Rose Bishop ’17 created the original Kenyon geofilter — location specific overlays — for the image messaging app Snapchat during her sophomore year at Kenyon. During spring break, Bishop — who is also the Collegian’s design consultant — noticed that all her friends were sending Snapchats with geofilters specific to their towns.
After researching the sudden influx in geofilters, she found that Snapchat had recently released a website where users could create their own geofilters and assign them to a specified location. Once a geofilter is submitted to Snapchat’s free geofilter website, the company will eventually publish the geofilter if Snapchat employees feel it meets the app’s standards. Bishop took it upon herself to create one for Kenyon students.
Her geofilter reads “Kenyon College” on the bottom left corner of the screen in white text of various fonts.
“Initially, when it first rolled out, I was super excited to see people using my geofilter, especially since not a lot of people knew that I made it,” Bishop said. “But then I eventually forgot that it was even mine, and it wasn’t until this article came up that I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I did that.’”
Following Bishop’s creation of a Kenyon geofilter, others began to follow. The Old Kenyon geofilter launched a few weeks later, followed by the Kenyon flag filter, which was developed by the college. This year more specific filters have begun to emerge, the first and only one currently released is for Horvitz Hall and was designed by Miles Shebar ’20.
“I was really excited when that one came out,” Bishop said, “because I spend a lot of time in Horvitz and it’s nice to be able to let people know that I’m there suffering for my art late into the night.”
Shebar began creating Snapchat geofilters for Kenyon landmarks last fall with former member of the class of 2020 Jack Spano. Their only available Kenyon geofilter is a Horvitz Hall geofilter, but Shebar hopes to release Peirce Dining Hall and Gates of Hell geofilters soon.
The process to create specific geofilters for campus landmarks began when a friend of Spano and Shebar’s suggested the idea. Shebar thought the project sounded interesting but was unsure where the geofilter would appear; many geofilters encompass entire cities, and he didn’t know if the system could accommodate specific buildings. Horvitz turned out to be a perfect match. “Horvitz is a super nice building that worked well with the parameters of Snapchat,” Shebar said.
Shebar created his first geofilter using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, layering effects on top of a reference photo of the Horvitz’s sign. The sign is a black rectangle with Horvitz spelled on top in light grey text with neon pink, yellow and blue outlines.
Shebar chose to make a Horvitz design first because he spends most of his day in the building: He works as a Digital Lab Assistant to Professor of Art Claudia Esslinger, who specializes in experimental technologies, for her digital imaging and experimental film and video classes.
The two geofilters for Peirce and the Gates of Hell should be released soon, but Shebar said it has been difficult getting back to work on the projects without his partner Spano, who stopped attending Kenyon late last fall.
Shebar plans to return to geofilter creation in the future. “I think if I’m going to do more, there are going to be more popular places,” he said, explaining that Horvitz is secluded from other locations on campus. Middle Path and Peirce geofilters would be accessible in much more heavily frequented areas. Shebar receives priority over first-time contributors on his Snapchat geofilter submissions, because he has already had a filter published, but Snapchat doesn’t offer a definitive timeline for the process of releasing geofilters to the public.