As a-listers walked the red carpet at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, Little Rock resident Cyrene Quiamco was there chronicling it all—their “best Miley Cyrus impressions,” their funny dance moves—on her phone. Which might strike you as odd (Little Rock is, after all, a world away from Hollywood), until you realize the 26-year-old was hired by the VMAs to doodle celebrity portraits, create branded content and sketch interactive stories on Snapchat, an outlet where posted images live for only a fleeting period of time.
Why? Because Cyrene’s got clout. The UALR grad was a finalist for a 2015 Shorty Award for Snapchatter of the Year, and she says she earns—we kid you not—$5,000 to $30,000 from companies like Jolly Rancher, Wal-Mart, Samsung, Pixar and Disneyland for the digitally illustrated Snapchat images she whips up with her stylus.
It all started with The11thSecond.com, a website she founded to curate her favorite snaps from other users and post some of her own. Soon enough, she was discovered by Kevin Jonas, and the duo collaborated on several campaigns. Her snaps—videos, celebrity-selfies series, animated stories and more—have garnered the attention of thousands of users since she first kicked off her account in August 2014.
“I think what sets Snapchat apart from other platforms is that there is so much interactivity,” she says. “You can have your audience become a part of your story because you’re curating it live. You don’t get that with any other platform.”
1. “I really, really like Salvador Dali. And Jenny Saville. She also does these paintings that are really loose, kind of surrealist. I kind of turned my paintings into unfinished-but-finished artwork, where I do, like, part of the face but I don’t finish the hair, and Saville kind of does that.”
2. “My favorite movie is probably Enchanted. I think I’ve seen that in the theaters probably like 10 times. Then I bought the digital version, and then I bought the Blu-ray. I love the musical mixed in with cartoon.”
3. “I listen to a lot of American pop, Korean pop and Filipino pop. Anything pop, really. But as far as a favorite singer goes, I don’t have one particular artist. I don’t think I can commit to one.”
4. “I watch a lot of Korean dramas—I think my favorite would probably be Boys Over Flowers. It’s pretty popular. It was the first drama that got me addicted to Korean dramas. I visited all of the different spots that it was set in when I studied abroad in Korea and Hong Kong.”
5. “I do have a favorite restaurant. It’s called Jollibee, and it’s like a fast-food chain, but they have nontraditional fast food there. They have the greatest desserts. They have chicken, spaghetti—everything you can think of. It’s in the Philippines, but they also have some in New York and California. They don’t have one in Arkansas, unfortunately. They should.”
6.“I love shopping. I counted the dresses in my closet about six months ago, and I think I have over 150 right now. But then I can never find anything to wear. I’m like, Where are all my dresses?”
7. “I think my dream Snapchat collab would be Ellen DeGeneres. My ‘Ellen selfie drawing’ was the very first Snapchat to go viral. I’ve always been a fan!”