Six seconds to express Endless creativity

By: Saul Berrios-Thomas | Layout Editor

Six seconds.

That is how long videos are on the social media platform Vine. Vine is changing the way media is consumed, at the blink of an eye. Literally.

The platform is unique and it quickly created a community of talented people who could create whatever they wanted to, as long as they could do it within the allotted time restraint. while many use the app recreationally, Vine has been slowly making it’s way into the news sharing world. The much talked about Oklahoma University fraternity who made a racist chant were filmed on Vine and the video was shared to all different news sites.

“Vine is being embedded everywhere on the internet,” said Meagan Cignoli, one of the early Viners who has built a career using the social media platform.

Cignoli was a freelance photographer from Long Island who was living in Manhattan. She worked mainly in the fashion industry and had her photos featured in magazines like Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire. Now she has over 500,000 followers on Vine, and counting.

Cignoli was an early adopter of new social media platforms, so it was natural for her to join Vine when she first heard about it. Once she started posting videos she was hooked. Cignoli discovered her style of Vine videos by accident.

“I was decorating my house and I was styling things and taking images and moving things around and then I realized ‘Wow I really enjoy that,’ it never was like a strategy it just kind of happened,” she said.

Jessi Vasquez, or, as she is known on Vine and her other social media accounts, Jessi Smiles, didn’t plan to become a Viner either.

“I was working as a makeup artist when one of my clients at the time told me about Vine. I’ll admit, I thought it was the dumbest idea when I first heard of it. But boredom struck one day and I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did,” she said.

Vasquez, who now has 3.6 million followers on Vine, was an entertainer from an early age.

“I have videos from before I could even talk and I was doing weird dance moves or whatever I had to do to get the crowd’s attention and make people laugh,” she said. “I’ve always been the person that would crack jokes or embarrass herself just to get a good laugh.”

Vasquez was scrolling through the popular page and she found the inspiration to start making her own Vines.

“When I first actually got into making comedy Vines it was because I had visited the popular page for the first time and saw a Marcus Johns Vine. Then I remade it and thought, ‘Hey. I think I can do this too,’” she said.

Vasquez, a Cuban-American, grew up in Miami. She didn’t go to college because she knew she wanted something different for her life. She credits her upbringing with her desire to create entertaining content.

“I think growing up around a family of musicians and artists played a huge part in who I am today. I was always told I could do and be anything. And I was always encouraged to pursue a life of chasing my dream. I know a lot of families can sometimes look down on not going to college and becoming a musician, but my family never did. They just wanted me to be happy,” she said.

Their stories may be different, and their content certainly is, but one thing they have in common is both Cignoli and Vasquez, had talent long before they started making Vines. They have both been catapulted to the top tier of entertainment because of their ability to capture audiences, six seconds at a time.

Cignoli has built an enterprise around her ability to create unique videos. Her company now makes videos for brands to advertise through social media.

“It changed my career completely. After a couple of weeks on Vine people saw what I was creating and a lot of brands reached out. Lowe’s reached out and then Puma and Ebay and since then we have worked with over 150 major brands. I went from being a freelance photographer to getting a huge studio, and now I have 15 employees. We are shooting 10 videos a week for different brands,” she said.

“Now we shoot all different kinds of videos, we shoot Instagram videos we shoot for companies’ Facebook or their Tumblr or sometimes commercials for TV, but a lot of it is social media videos, so three-15 seconds long,” she said. “The reason my company grew so big is because of Vine. There was a lot of press because I won all of these awards for my Vine videos for Lowe’s so it was in all of these magazines.”

Vasquez posts a combination of Vines. She started making a name for herself by posting Vines of her doing and saying funny things.

“When I post a Vine, it’s usually a reenactment of something that actually happened in my life or a random idea that just popped in my head. If it’s a random idea I’ll just open the Vine app and keep trying different lines and deliveries until it becomes something I find funny,” she said.

She started to gain attention for her comedy, but her first love has always been music. She began to post more videos of her singing both #SixSecondCovers and unique creations.

“It’s been a blessing. I’ve been able to do what I’ve always wanted to do – write music with my brother and actually have people who want to hear it. Like that wonderful Andy Grammar song goes, ‘All I need are some ears to hear me dream.’ That’s really all I need,” she said.

Like Cignoli, Vasquez expanded to other social media platforms. She has a YouTube channel that features her Vines, her music and her vlogs. That is also where she put her music video for her debut single “Bitch, Please!” and she is still working on new music.

“I’m in the process of writing and recording my new EP now. Hopefully I can have it out sometime this year,” she said.

The growth of Vine has allowed both of these women to make a living by making social media content. And both are looking beyond Vine and taking the necessary steps to have a future beyond the app.

Their paths to success have not been without backlash though.

“I think at the beginning it was pretty shocking. I always had a community that I interacted with and they interacted with me so the first time that there was this even larger community that was looking in and saying whatever they wanted it was overwhelming,” Cignoli said. “There are people that say “you suck, you are a loser, kill yourself” things like that … There were some days that I just laughed it off and didn’t care and then there were some days that I did care.”

Cignoli can’t help but think about what people are going to say about whatever she posts.

“You do think about what people are going to say before you post. I was having breakfast with my friends. I took a picture and they were like ‘oh post it’ and I was like ‘well the fork is on this side and the knife is here and people are going to say something’ and they were like ‘what are you talking about.’ I posted it and all of these people were like “the knife is on the wrong side, the fork is on the wrong side.”

They have to face criticism that can be harsh and overwhelming. But, both have stood strong through the turbulence. They have built successful careers surrounding the app. They have done that because they had talent long before they posted their first six second video.

“What happens with social media is that there is this ability to get a lot of attention, but I think that at the end of the day there has to be talent behind that,” Cignoli said.