PerlerBuff is an Etsy shop that I opened in 2017 as a passion project. Learning how to run a shop was interesting and rewarding, but it was difficult to get many sales without a social media presence. In May of 2021, I started a TikTok channel to showcase my artwork and how it is created. A few of my videos gained some traction, and I ended up gaining over ten thousand followers within the first few months of the channel’s lifespan. While my presence on TikTok has been relatively steady, I have never been able to keep a steady posting schedule for Instagram. In this project, my goal is to develop my social media presence on Instagram by creating a photo series of my Pokémon artwork in a variety of interesting locations.
The primary audience for my project is people who are fans of Pokémon and/or Perler beads. I am hopeful that this project will lead a new group of potential followers/buyers from Instagram to the PerlerBuff Etsy shop. The secondary audience would be the general audience of Instagram, people who may stumble upon my account. I believe that these audiences will be interested in my project because it will be supplemental to the content that I am already posting on my social media channels. This will increase the amount of opportunities for people to find my brand, which in turn will lead to more sales on my Etsy shop.
My senior capstone will take the form of seventy-two Instagram posts that will be released on a daily schedule starting on March 1st and continuing until at least May 11th. I chose to make this project photography because although I have a lot of experience with recording videos and taking pictures of my Perler creations, I am not very well versed in editing photos for Instagram. As I envision the end of the project right now, I imagine someone scrolling through their Instagram and one of my posts catch their eye. They click on my profile and they are greeted with a wall of interesting and colorful pictures of Pokémon in different locations and poses. This will hopefully lead them to click the links in my bio that lead to my other social media platforms.
One professional Instagram account that this project takes inspiration from is LANDSCAPE & NIGHTSCAPE. Many of their pictures include animals in interesting and whimsical poses, which I hope I can capture in my photos. This account often uses optical tricks in their pictures as well, but this is not a style of image that I intend to emphasize during my project.
Another professional example that is similar to my project is 1x on Instagram. Similarly to LANDSCAPE & NIGHTSCAPE, this account also includes cute photos of animals and landscape optical illusions. I admire the diverse color palette that 1x’s photos have, and I hope to be able to replicate that with my account.
Technology and Materials
To complete this project, I will be using the camera on my iPhone 12 Pro to take photos of the Pokémon Perler creations. I’m hoping that this project will provide me with the opportunity to develop my photography skills further. After taking pictures of each Pokémon, I will upload them to my computer and edit them using Adobe Photoshop. The photos will then be uploaded to the PerlerBuff Instagram and scheduled accordingly. I also plan on uploading each image as a temporary TikTok story that will be automatically deleted after twenty-four hours. I will also collect data such as likes, comments, and views, and keep track of them through the use of Google Sheets.
Since the creation of the PerlerBuff Instagram account, I have attempted to take unique pictures of my Pokémon Perler bead creations a few different times. I was happy with the results but felt as though I could improve my work through better photo editing and a more thought-out posting schedule.
I also will be utilizing skills from prior courses I have taken throughout my college career. These include photography and writing skills from my Communications Theory course, design aspects from my Digital Aesthetics class, and the ability to run a successful social media account from my Civic Media course.
One aspect of my educational experience I want to display is the concept of the medium being the metamessage. This is a concept that has stuck with me since my Ethics in Communications class in 2019. A reading from that class that stuck with me was from Deborah Tannen, titled The Medium Is the Metamessage. This reading stood out to me because it taught me that the form in which you provide a message completely changes the meaning of it. I want to incorporate this idea into my project by contrasting the serious feel of nature photography with the colorful and goofy designs of the Pokémon characters.
Research/Obstacles and Resources
There will be a few different things that I will research to complete this project. First, I will need to look into various parks or eye-catching locations that would be good backdrops for the types of photos I take. One location that I am confident I will be able to take interesting pictures in is Wissahickon Valley Park because I have taken photos there previously. I also plan on taking pictures in some notable/interesting locations in the city of Philadelphia, such as the Liberty Bell or The Rocky Steps.
I will also need to research different techniques for editing the photos that I take. I have some experience editing photos of my Perler pieces indoors, but I haven’t taken any outdoor photos in a few years. I aim to use this project to research different techniques for editing and lighting outdoor photos in Adobe Photoshop. I intend to read articles and watch YouTube tutorials on various editing techniques, such as this video by Dansky.
I expect to encounter a handful of obstacles as I progress through my project. Since I am taking photos in bulk for posting on consecutive days, I am worried that I will have trouble finding enough unique locations for each of the Pokémon Perlers. The last time I took photos of my Perlers in nature, I noticed that eventually, the pictures started to look too similar. Another obstacle I’m anticipating facing is keeping up with the daily posting schedule. Schedules have always been intimidating to me, but I’m confident that I will be able to keep up with the schedule provided I can take enough unique pictures.
This project does not require very many resources. I already own Adobe Photoshop and all the necessary software for this project. I do not have a car with me in Philadelphia anymore, but I plan to take my friend with me when I take pictures and ask them to drive.
I will not have access to my Pokémon Perlers until the beginning of February, so the timeline for my project will begin on February 1st.
Feb 1st – Feb 29th
I plan to use this time to take all of the pictures needed for the project. There will be seventy-two photos posted daily to my Instagram between March and May. The main goal for February is to visit at least five unique places to take pictures of my Pokémon Perlers. I hope to take at least twenty unique pictures per trip. They will then be imported to my computer from my iPhone and will be edited in Adobe Photoshop.
March 1st – May 11th
The photos for the PerlerBuff Instagram will begin posting on March 1st, 2024, and will continue posting every day until at least May 11th, 2024. Even though there are only seventy-two photos required for this project, I intend on taking photos over the semester to keep the daily posts going as long as possible.
There will also be five checkpoint days on which I am going to gather all of the engagement data on photos posted up to that date to analyze any possible trends and search for ways to improve. These dates will be as follows: