Interactive Instagram Costume




Introduction: Interactive Instagram Costume

Halloween. My favorite "holiday" of the year; no travelling across the country on one of the worst travel days of the year, no worrying about what gift to get for who, no worrying about being "that guy/girl" without a date (for us single folks out there), no religious overtones (generally) to worry about... you can just dress up and act silly with friends. The only thing I'll be worrying about is finding a cab to get home at 2AM (which, based on past experiences, is bound to be its own disaster).

Living in San Francisco - the tech and startup capital of the world -  I've chosen to be a different website/app for Halloween for the past few years. And as an extrovert, I really like talking to people. This problem is compounded by the introduction of alcohol. While Halloween for "adults" in SF can turn into amateur night, over the years I've learned to handle my booze.* So with the ability to not act like a mess, I like to have those around me participate in my costumes.

My mantra with my tech-related costumes: Be instantly recognizable. Be interactive. Be fun and engaging, and provide my friends and those around me with something to laugh at during and possibly after (to a point).

This year, I decided to go with Instagram.

I registered the "SFHalloween" Instagram account. While I'm party hopping and bar crawling on All Hallow's Eve, I 'll take pictures of the costumes I see, the people I meet, and whatever else catches my eye. These photos will all be posted to the SFHalloween Instagram account. Based on past years, I don't think I'll have any problem finding people who actually *want* to be a part of this (my Twitter costume from a couple years back seemed to be a big hit with random people). If they're so inclined to just take whatever I'm handing out, I'll be carrying a stack of business cards with the Instagram account and an associated hashtag printed on them so folks can check out the pictures later (and contact me to delete any that might not be to their liking... you know, just in case. We will be drinking, after all).

*I do not condone excessive drinking. You shouldn't. It's bad for you.

Step 1: Register for Instagram!

This part is totally unnecessary if you just want to wear the icon. Since the whole point of my version of this getup is to be interactive, I registered a completely new Instagram account, separate from my own personal account.

Why? I try not to spam my friends/followers with too many photos all at once; if all goes well, I'll take anywhere between 50-100 photos over the course of the night. It just made sense to keep the madness contained in its own little debaucherous space.

If you want to snap photos of your Halloween misadventures but don't have an account or the app, it's available through the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores and you can register an account through the app itself. Technology!

(Side note: if you already have an account tied to an email address, you'll need a secondary email address in order to procure another account for yourself)

Step 2: The Image!

Create the image!

Instagram provides a 1,000x1,000 pixel version of their logo - which is great - but I wanted my icon to be 15"x15" without too much of a loss in image quality so I had to recreate the icon by hand in Photoshop (the large one that is second from the left).

Since I wanted the back to be different than the front, having a layered PSD available to write my text made it much easier than using the clone tool to eliminate the "lens" of the icon. I've attached my large PDF version of the icon for you to use.

If that kind of thing doesn't matter much, you can use the same icon image for the back.

(There's a 2mm bleed on the images just in case you're cutting it by hand and won't be cutting it perfectly.)

Step 3: The Icon Backing

Since we have an Epilog laser cutter available, instead of cutting plywood or cardboard by hand, I laser cut myself a backing for the front and back images I created. One of the big bonuses to this is that with the vector art that the laser cutter uses, you can use it as a template to cut your printed images (see next step). I used acrylic because it's light and doesn't absorb the application solution I used to position and secure the artwork on the backing.

I created two of 15"x15" backings for both the front and back of the icon. In addition, I cut out a circle for the lens, so it'd be a little raised from the flat surface of the icon front.

Cardboard isn't strong enough to handle the abuse of getting jostled in a crowded bar - even gluing a couple sheets together doesn't really cut it, especially if it might get wet. If damaging the finished product isn't a huge concern, it'd work just fine. Foamcore works quite well but isn't the easiest to cut (especially when it comes to getting nice rounded corners).

Step 4: The Printed Images!

Print the images! FedEx Kinkos or any similar full-service print shop should provide printing services for large format printing if your image larger than what you could normally print at home. 

I printed mine using a Roland VersaCAMM printer - basically a giant sticker printer - so mine had an adhesive side to stick to the laser cut backings. It also has this handy feature that will cut the image along the vector line (that I repurposed from my laser cutting file).

If you don't have a massive professional grade sticker printer available, simply printing the image on some thick stock (100 lb cover or more) would also work. A few passes with a sharp Xacto knife and a straight edge ought to do the trick, but the corners might require a little more patience.

Step 5: Stick Away!

Attach the printed and cut images to your backings. If yours has an adhesive backing, spray both the adhesive and the surface you're sticking it to with an application solution; this will prevent the adhesive from holding until you squeegee the solution out from underneath the sticker.

Otherwise, you can just use a spray adhesive and use a roller to eliminate any air bubbles from underneath the printed image.

Step 6: But How Will You Wear It on Your Person?

I procured some faux-leather straps that my fabulous coworker Jessy had for one of her costume accessories and they just happened to match the icon. Using the time tested method of duct taping everything together, affix the straps to the back of the icon backings.

Attach the straps to the front and back icons so it's wearable like a sandwich board. You can vary the length of the straps so the finished costume rests on your chest/back however high/low you want - whatever feels good to you! 

Because it's just duct tape, I was a little worried that the strap might just slip out from underneath the tape. To fix that, I folded the strap over itself and secured that with additional tape as well. 

Step 7: The Finished Product!

And here it is!

Mine also has an additional piece hanging from it so the URL and hashtag for the account aren't cluttering up the icon itself. 

Step 8: Some More Thoughts

A few things I thought of, and questions posed by coworkers.

1) Why not make the Instagram icon take photos? I want the photos to be uploaded as quickly as possible after taking them. By taking them through the app itself, provided my phone has reception, they'll be uploaded immediately. Creating a harness for the phone on the icon itself with a hole to allow the the camera to "see" the outside world would pose a few problems - the first being the higher chance of losing my phone. Having lost my phone on Halloween a while back, it sucks. Creating a secure harness would mean not having my phone handy to add a caption for any interesting photos, texting a friend my location, looking up my own name just in case I'm inebriated to the point of forgetting, etc. I came across another Instagram costume and it utilized an actual camera and an Eye-Fi SD card (which you can link to a smartphone). Awesome! Except that's more money to spend and more weight. At the end of the night, you aren't going to want any added weight. And that'd just one more step that'd be required to upload pictures and I'd rather be socializing than fussing with that.

2) I learned with the Twitter costume that my phone will be in and out of my pocket quite frequently. I had to find a way to secure my phone to my person and sometimes, the quickest and easiest (albeit somewhat inelegant) solution works best - I simply duct taped a small leftover strap scrap to my phone's case. Grab some paracord - at 5'11", 2.5' will keep it attached to me without restricting it too much and it won't hit the ground when I inevitably drop it. Thread it through the strap and tie it with a double half hitch or square knot or whatever secure knot you know on one end, the other end affixed to a belt loop on your pants. The sticky residue should come off pretty easily after your shenanigans have come to an end.

3) Because I like to match things, I purchased a dark brown shirt and khaki colored pants to go with the icon. Added bonus: I can look fly after Halloween with those threads. That's right - I'm bringing back "fly."

4) Battery life. I plan on carrying my Mophie with me - taking pictures (especially with a flash) will drain the phone battery quite quickly. Be sure to carry a spare battery for your phone. With an iPhone, be sure to carry a portable power source.

Step 9: Post-Halloween Update - With Pictures!

The costume turned out to be a great success - people were into it! People were pretty consistently asking to take a picture of the costume or were happy to have their pictures taken. Met some fun and awesome people, took a bunch of pictures, and the best part: people asking how I made the costume - "you can go to and search for "Instagram costume."

Here are some of the snaps that were taken throughout the course of the day/night, first during the day at the Autodesk Pier 9 office and later throughout San Francisco.

2013 Autodesk Halloween Contest

Runner Up in the
2013 Autodesk Halloween Contest

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    9 years ago

    what's can it do?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    HI GARY. Look what photo I found...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    How many people punched you in the stomach while wearing that Digg costume?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    None! Not because of the button being right there at least. For some reason, I remember it being a little lower, actually. I *did* get Pillsbury Doughboy poked quite a bit.