Generate app adds artful complexity to mobile image manipulation - Brooklyn


Apr. 7, 2015 7:31 am

Generate app adds artful complexity to mobile image manipulation

Instagram on steroids? A team with one foot in Vancouver and one in Brooklyn has built an image manipulation app that is fostering collaboration across art forms.
A Generate-branded Generate image.

A Generate-branded Generate image.

(Courtesy photo)

Correction: An earlier version of this story misinterpreted Generate's user count. The numbers have been updated. (4/8/15, 2:32 p.m.)

There’s a choice that startups have to make: simple or complicated. Generally, the idea is to go with simple. Figure out what you can do really well, make it so easy that your mom can figure it out the first time she opens her smartphone and build up from there.

Generate is a new app that grew out of an artist-run music label, Hybridity, from Vancouver. Principals of the team are living in Ditmas Park/Lefferts Gardens when they are in New York, though lately they have been working from the New Museum’s incubator, NEW INC.

Generate currently has 165,000 total users, according to an email from founder and CEO Malcolm Levy, who also founded Hybridity. Generate has been internally curating artists who either stand out to the team or who have reached out to them directly. The app’s Artist Series has about 10,000 users, according to Generate’s Sarah Cole-Burnett.

The photo and video editing and sharing service has elements in common with Instagram. The basic idea is that users can edit and filter photos and videos. The big difference, though, is the way that they can overlay filters in any combination they want.

Check out this Thriftworks music video shot and filtered using Generate:

Generate is an app that you need to figure out. It’s not hard to use, it just has a load of possibilities.

It introduces a level of complexity that most apps in this space try to avoid. It could be, though, that Generate is building on the user education that previous apps have already established. Maybe Generate wouldn’t have been possible before Instagram, but millions of users later, some Instagram users probably feel like its one-and-done filter system is boring now.

We asked Generate what layers define their product, and here’s the list we got back: audio reactivity, layering multiple filters, videos from still images and creative masking.


Download Generate for iOS Download Generate for Android

Levy said Generate will soon be more actively pushing featured artists on the app, curating really interesting work and also upping the involvement of musicians.

“When one thinks of artists, technology, music and the creative community there are few places with the ecology of Brooklyn in terms of people working on next-level projects,” Levy said. “It makes sense to be in Brooklyn from the perspective that if you want to be working with the most interesting and emerging people in any field, than you want to be in a place where that sort of culture and ethic is supported and flourishes.”

Kristin Tretheway, Generate’s product manager, gave us a breakdown of its users, saying that they are 60-40 male-female, with 24-35-year-olds leading and 18-24-year-olds next. Generate sees a strong overlap with music and film fans, she said.

Tretheway said that to encourage users, the company often runs contests or challenges. Last year, Generate asked users to layer their city with photos of where they lived with filters that spoke to them. They’ve also partnered with events, such as TEDxVancouver, Art Basel Miami and the SEASONS Festival Vancouver.

Levy is an artist himself and showed digitally generated images recently at Bushwick’s Transfer Gallery. Generate is currently a team of ten, according to Levy.

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Companies: Generate, Instagram
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