300: Meet the UT student behind your favorite Snapchat geofilters

Collyn Burke

If you’ve ever opened Snapchat on UT’s campus, you’ve probably shared one of Jordan Villarreal’s geofilter designs with your friends hundreds of times, but unless you know Jordan, you’d never know that.

As a senior in high school, Jordan Villarreal stumbled upon the up-and-coming world of Snapchat filter design. Now a biology junior, Villarreal estimates he’s designed around 25 Snapchat geofilters, including a majority of the filters for the UT campus.

“I just kind of did one here and there over the course of two to three years,” Villarreal said. “And now its just kind of amassed into this collection of mine.”

Although Villarreal was never formally trained in graphic design, creating the filters became an exercise in his artistic abilities throughout the years.

“My first one was pretty basic — just fonts (and) basic shapes,” Villarreal said. “As I started getting more comfortable with it, I would start basing them off references and real life, and eventually it got to the point where I would just free-hand stuff.”

According to Villarreal, Snapchat doesn’t compensate him for his designs or publicly credit him for his art. 

“I realized a lot of people use these, and Snapchat doesn’t really credit the artist,” Villarreal said. “When I did (the Twitter thread), it just went to show that everybody knew about the filters collectively, but they didn’t know that one person designed them.”

While Villarreal doesn’t currently know of anyone else who creates filters, he encourages others to join the competition, to both keep him on his toes and to increase the overall quality.

“I think it would be cool to have a small community of designers,” Villarreal said. “It’s always been an obscure process. Not a lot of people know about it, but I encourage people who think they can do it to try their hand at it.”