Meet the Artists of Boston Snapchat Geofilters

No, they don’t work for Snapchat.

Snapchat composition is important. Filters, captions, spewing rainbows, and emojis are great and all, but the only real way to bring a snap to the next level is by adding a geofilter. With a swipe of the thumb, Snapchatters know they can unlock doodles and graphics to enhance snaps depending on where they are.

You’re wrong, though, if you thought these location-based geofilters were magically conjured up by the Snapchat ghost. They’re made by locals, and Boston caught up with four of them to pull back the curtain on the people behind the filters.

Snap by Michael Rolincik

Snap by Michael Rolincik

Boston College — Michael Rolincik

Michael Rolincik had never ventured into the world of graphic design until a year ago when he started doing marketing and making posters for the BC Orchestra. But his Photoshop dabbles became a jumping off point for creating geofilters.

“I thought ‘Why not? I’ll give it a try,’” he says.

His first accepted filter was for Vienna, Austria in May 2015, when he studied abroad there. Next came the geofilter for his hometown, Wellesley, and then the classic Boston College one, where he’s a senior sociology and music double major.

Rolincik says it’s cool knowing his efforts are shared with people he interacts with on a day-to-day basis, and it’s cooler when they find out he designed the filter.

“People are like ‘Wait, do you work for Snapchat?’” he says. “Uh no, no, I just do this for fun.”

Snap by Elizabeth DiBenedetto

Snap by Elizabeth DiBenedetto

Mission Hill — Elizabeth DiBenedetto

On a trip to New York City in December 2014, Elizabeth DiBenedetto sent a lot of Snapchats, cycling through the various Manhattan geofilters.

“I googled how many were in Boston and noticed there weren’t that many,” she explains. “There was a page that said you could make your own. Graphic design has been a hobby since I was younger and I thought ‘Oh, I can make them for places I go a lot.’”

The Winthrop native made one for her hometown and one for her school’s neighborhood: Mission Hill. A sophomore computer information systems major at Wentworth, DiBenedetto says it almost feels like she’s famous even though most people don’t know that she created the filter.

When geofilters are accepted by Snapchat, creators are notified via email. But before DiBenedetto had the chance to check her email this May, a friend who resides in Mission Hill happened to send her a Snapchat with the filter.

DeBenedetto recalls “I was like ‘I made that filter!’”

Snap by Julia Rowe

Snap by Julia Rowe

Tufts University — Julia Rowe

Tufts senior Julia Rowe realizes that most people don’t know anyone can submit a community geofilter. But when she stumbled upon Snapchat’s submission instructions, she got to work.

“I’ve wanted to get into more graphic design, so this was my starting point,” she explains. “It’s a creative idea—how do you want to represent this area geographically?”

To her surprise, her geometric Tufts mascot filter was accepted quickly, even though there were two existing geofilters at the school. Rowe attends Tufts as a double major in physics and computer science.

“When I see random people who go to Tufts using it, it’s kind of validating,” she says.

Snap by Madeline Bilis

Snap by Madeline Bilis

Davis Square — Spenser Hasak

Creating geofilters was a no-brainer for professional graphic designer and photographer Spenser Hasak. Although there’s no compensation involved in designing the filters, the 22-year-old Topsfield native says it’s a good feeling to have people appreciate his work and use it actively.

He’s created filters for the North Shore, Davis Square, and Plympton, Massachusetts. When Hasak’s friend told him about the opportunity to make filters, he told his group of friends he’d have a big surprise if everything worked out.

“We were all hanging out when I got the email,” he says. “I flipped through my phone to see if it was there and sent Snapchats to all my friends. It was one of my more gratifying moments as a designer to see something that would be so wide-reaching.”