VSCO’s Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Greg Lutze shares his journey to founding VSCO and what’s next for the company in our LEADERS issue.
What is VSCO?
Simply put, VSCO is a photo company. We build creative tools and a community that’s all about self-expression. Whether its image editing tools like presets, education to teach you how to take better photos, or inspiration to keep you going, we want to help you reach your creative potential.
VSCO is built for creators, by creators. My co-founder, Joel Flory, is a photographer, and I am a designer. We wanted to build a company we believed in, something that valued people who create and their creative process. We wanted to build a company that really stood for creators, that was there to help them all along the way.
What surprised you along your journey founding VSCO? Did entrepreneurship come naturally?
Previously, I ran a small design shop, but never anything close to the scale of VSCO. In many ways, entrepreneurship is another form of creating. There are lots of parallels between the work I was doing for design agencies and the process of creating a business out of an idea. The team at VSCO is extremely creative, so we were able to approach developing VSCO in a similar way. We are always trying to push things further while maintaining our values, and to build products from the lens of a creator.
Starting your own thing is both an amazing and difficult thing. If I’m honest, there are days I feel so alive, and others I just feel exhausted. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity and the people around me. It’s also incredibly important to surround yourself with people that have different skills than you — no one can be great at everything, so building a team with different experiences and perspectives is imperative.
What defines a creator today?
Anyone can be a creator — you just have to start making. Whether you’re just starting photography or you’re a professional, if you’re sharing something from your own perspective, you’re a creator. It can be intimidating to start, but you have to put yourself out there and try. You’ll soon realize that there are others out there who deeply relate to your work. And that’s why our tools and our community exist — to help you unlock your creative potential.
Who or what inspires you creatively? What drives you?
I’m always inspired by music. There’s something amazing about walking around the neighborhood taking photos while listening to music like some kind of soundtrack. They go hand in hand. I also am inspired by design, particularly clean, minimal design with an emphasis on typography and grid layouts.
I am driven by the hope of photography to bring people together, to be a positive, creative energy in the world. When I see an image from someone who lives on the other side of the world, I develop a little more understanding, a little more acceptance, of them.
What do you want to do this year that you’ve never done before?
I would love to learn how to speak French, make instrumental music, and develop my own line of men’s clothing.
What’s next for VSCO?
We have a lot of exciting things going on and we’re looking forward to expanding in the future. Recently, we launched VSCO X, our premium membership, providing our community with better tools, presets, and education. If you want to invest in yourself from a creative perspective, joining VSCO X is a great way to do so.
We want to help creators connect with brands and get paid for their work. That’s why we started VSCO Connect, our new service that matches brands like Nike, Timberland, and Strava with VSCO’s content creators for custom original content. This allows brands to produce interesting, on-brand content and connects creators with opportunities to generate income for their amazing work. It’s a win-win for everyone!
As a creator-first platform, we want to continue to support the community that makes VSCO so special. This year, we launched VSCO Voices in partnership with Access Ventures, a six-month grant awarded to five creators dedicated to empowering marginalized communities through art. The grant includes $20K in funding per grant recipient, hands-on mentorship, and a visit to the VSCO headquarters in California.
STORY ANNA ZHANG
PHOTOS ADRIAN OCTAVIUS WALKER
Read more in Volume III, Issue No. 002 – Spring 2018.