By day, Ilias Pistopoulos is a graphic designer, but by night he creates effects on TikTok using AR, and owns AR company FAM.
Courtesy of Ilias Pistopoulos
I’m a 30-year-old graphic designer and AR artist making filters for TikTok.
My effects have over one billion views, but I don’t get any compensation.
Effect House is an AR tool used by TikTokers who want to create filters for the video-sharing app.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with 30-year-old Ilias Pistopoulos, a graphic designer in Greece who creates viral filters for various social media platforms. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m a graphic designer with a degree in engineering, and for the past four years I’ve been creating augmented reality effects — also known as filters — for Facebook, Instagram, and most recently TikTok.
For me, AR is the most powerful technological evolution. Last year, I had the opportunity to be a part of a private beta effects test for Effect House, an AR tool used to easily create effects for TikTok, so I’ve been with the platform from the beginning.
It has helped me create viral animal filters like “Maxwell The Cat,” “Maxwell In The Sky,” and a “Capybara” filter based on the popular sound on TikTok. The filters are free to be uploaded to the app once they’re approved, but I make no money from it.
I get most of my inspiration from trends on my TikTok “For You Page,” and I research different media to find the best ideas for filters. After I have my concept, there’s a lot of software involved to create the design, and it requires some 3D modeling to know how it will look in the real world.
I have a 9-to-5 job at a marketing firm, but I spend time after work scrolling TikTok and working on effects. Three months ago, I worked on “Maxwell The Cat” for hours before it was ready to be submitted for review on Effect House. I found the cat, which is from a video game, and a sound, and I thought, “Yeah, this definitely needs to be an effect.”
As of Saturday morning, Pistpoulos’ effects have been viewed over one billion times on TikTok, and he’s gained 37,000 followers only one year into creating effects for the app.
Courtesy of Ilias Pistopoulos
Now, my effects have been viewed over one billion times on TikTok, and the whole world is using my creations. I may not get paid for it, but the benefits are exposure and the chance to grow my audience. Thanks to these effects I’ve been able to grow my TikTok following from 200 to 37,000 in a matter of months.
My viral effects have helped me grow my AR business FAM because big brands have reached out to work with me and being a part of Effect House comes with a community of creators learning and sharing information.
I know most times I won’t be tagged by a TikToker when they use my filters, and I’ve seen places like Clancy’s Auto Body Shop making merchandise with my effect, but I don’t care.
I think it’s really cool to see how others can be creative with it, and I can use those analytics to show how well my effects are doing. Branding is everything, so that’s what I try to keep in mind when sharing my effects with the world.