VSCO, ‘Visco’, ‘that filter company’, is, in fact, better described as THE filter company. The VSCO app is, in my humblest opinion, the best mobile filter app there is, due to the quality right out the box, ability to tweak, ease of use and so on. However, having conquered the filter world through their film-type sets for desktop and through its app, VSCO has been showing signs it doesn’t intend on stopping there. There was the acquisition of Artifact Uprising, and now they’ve begun to publish original content in the form of VSCO Originals – strictly editorial content that you’ll only find on VSCO.
For those familiar with Medium, and perhaps high-end editorial publications, you’ll likely find that VSCO Originals is somewhat akin. However, it is immediately clear that VSCO Originals is much more than a photographic revue and digital venue. The content also spans the gamut of various types of art and the various mediums they utilize, and then presents it all in (at the time of this writing), four themed categories with four more en route, each unique in content and delivery.
Venue, a music-themed category was introduced last fall, and this month alone will see numerous titles within the category published as a collection of imagery and words to guide you through it. The experience is, well, just that, an experience. It’s something you do decidedly rather than in passing – it’s a destination endeavor, if you will.
Venue has since been followed by Cyclopedia, “discovering and learning science, history, and culture through visually experimental presentations.” -Illustrations by Josh Cochran
All Kinds of Human, “celebrating the complexity and diversity of humanity, showcasing the moments that unite us.” Photographs by Jared Soares
Manifattura, “featuring artists and makers in various fields from all over the world through collaborative projects.” Type by Göran Söderström, illustrations by Oscar Grønner
Soon to be followed by:
23.5 — supporting and exploring global cultural perspectives.
Max — celebrating the journey of self-discovery and growth for young women striving to express themselves.
CBN — broadcasting the maniacal personas that exist in the recess of an everyday world. Viewer discretion is advised.
Academy — informing and helping people of all levels, through tutorials and interviews, to learn, be inspired, and engage in the art of photography
It is worth noting that this isn’t simply a springboard to show off what users can do with VSCO products as much imagery doesn’t use them. The work is largely commissioned, and you can even, at times, submit. It can be enjoyed through their site or mobile app right now.
Given VSCO’s visual and artistic nature, the standard of curation of all the material is, as you would expect, very high. They are not picking from the bottom, and don’t take this the wrong way, but neither are they pandering to the lowest common denominator of viewer/consumer. The material within is, in fact, so highly refined, enlightened, and dare I say educated, that ‘mainstream’ it is not, and, therefore, is not exactly viral. VSCO, it would seem, is betting on the long game, and what becomes obvious rather quickly is that this is the move, the bet, the gamble that could matriculate VSCO from promotional publishing platform for others, to become a proper publishing house.
I yearn for material like this, not because I’m against the mainstream, but simply because in an age where most everyone is about the quick high, provided by easily consumed material that’s just as easily created, requiring little thought or appreciation, this is something else altogether. It’s brave.