Jody G Johnston: Stuff that Pilgramers Say by Brad P
The best part of community is covering…the community. Instagram is a great platform for individuals to find one another, relate, share, support, and ultimately build and foster a community. In February of this year, Ryan Coleman, hit me up and was ECSTATIC about this video about Instagram. It was a parody yet the best part is how everyone, including myself, felt like it was really closer to the truth that we had thought. Instagram was an addiction for many of us. The community aspect was an addiction for many of us. I remember watching the video and actually loving Jody in the video (not that I didn’t dig the others). Jody was hillarious! AND he was spot on!
“Stuff Instagramers Say” was the video that started our video documentation of Instagramers. We joined the parody meme that was popular on youtube by basically poking fun at all of our friends and ourselves here in Lynchburg, Va who used instagram. We quickly found out that our addictive behavior to the mobile app was shared with the rest of the world.- Jody
Fast forward to the Pilgramers coming to Seattle. I didn’t really know about them at all and surprisingly a lot of the folks in @igers_seattle didn’t really have an idea of who they were (although there were a lot who weren’t involved with igers that did) . I had to look through and Jody was that dude from the “Stuff that Instagramers Say” video. I had to go down and see what these cats were about. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay long, and I wasn’t able to vibe with anyone because of it. Coleman hit me up again and asked me if I had asked to interview any of them and I told him I didn’t even get a chance to chop it up with any of them. No interview, no connection.
Ryan Carl and myself created “Stuff Instagramers Say”. After creating that meme video, we realized that the community we experienced on Instagram was much more that special. We decided that we wanted to dive deeper into the relationships we had already created through the app and make personal, real life connection with the people whose photos we “liked” on an everyday basis. Our journey began through east coast instameets with individuals that we had, through the app, built friendships with. Our experiences with the instagramers led to the desire to grow the demand for instameets throughout the entire Instagram community. Instagram allows people from everywhere to share the beauty that they are surrounded by, and experience in there adventures and explorations. The main idea behind Pilgramers is just that – to grow community all across the world through personal, real like relationships that can challenge and inspire continued creativity. – Jody
Fast forward again, to three weeks ago and I saw a Pilgramer’s tweet or something about them and linked me to Jody. I hit him up because I wanted to learn more and I wanted to share with you all not just the great community that the Pilgramers is a part of, but the love they have for the culture of Instagram and its creative connections. He was real responsive and here I present to ya’ll: Jody G. Johnston of the Pilgramers.
Photo Credit to Kevin Gilgan for this photo — Instagram: @Gilganizer
B: BP J: Jody
B: Who is Jody G Johnston? Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from? Who do you hangout with? What is the daily life of Jody like?
J: Well, my name is Jody Johnston. Like most people, I was born at a very early age. Yeah… I absolutely love dad jokes. I was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Do you want to know what year/ date? Cause I was born on October 18th, 1990. Boom. I’ll be 22 next month, light the candles? I lived in Nashville until I was 17, but then moved down south to New Orleans, LA. I worked for a retail store selling outdoor gear for the year I lived down there. I also worked for this guy in Ponchatoula, LA who had a small saw mill operation. I operated a 36in ban saw, turned logs, and end result- made lumber. It was nuts.
In 2009 I moved up here to central Virginia to go to school at Liberty Universtiy. I lived on campus for a year, but then found an incredible community of creatives in downtown Lynchburg that are all basically rockstar creatives. I moved in with them into an old four story produce warehouse, there are ten of us right now but its always changing. We live life together, from pancake breakfasts to camping trips to creative projects. I thrive off of intentional community, it is so important to keeping my passions alive.
My everyday life is somewhat structured, but I am a firm believer in planned improvisation. I am a full time student, graduating in may with a B.S. in advertising and a minor in graphic design. So classes are frustratingly time consuming at this point in my life. Growing up in Nashville, and having a mother that taught piano at Belmont University, set music as a pretty solid structure point in my life. So I play a lot of it, everyday actually, it functions a major creative outlet that brings groups of people together and plus I really enjoy shouting The Bands version of “Atlantic City” with everyone in the building. Wow, I am terrible at answering these question directly.
So here is the deal, to answer your questions – I began thinking of my general weekdays and realized that there are very few days that I don’t spend some significant amount of time outside doing some sort of stereotypical, hipster generation, driven activity i.e. riding my fixed gear bicycle, slack lining, wasting time in an eno hammock, reading steinbeck, or discussing sustainability. So…I realized my life sounds kind of cliche? heh. I mean, I play in a band… oh wait. Thanks for interviewing me, I now realize I have become a stereotype, woot.
But seriously, my day consists of people. I serve as a pastor to a community of christians here in central virginia. It involves lots of one on one time with people at homes, in hospital rooms, and where ever else they are living life. I find joy in meeting others needs, I am tempted to say that I can’t explain it, but I can. I love sharing love that has been shared with me. Living life with others in a way that reminds them that they are not alone, the impact is truly life changing. It changed mine. Community is my daily life, when I find myself retracting from it or trying to put walls up to live without transparency I tend to lose the spark that pushes me to creativity.
B: Besides mobile photography and sharing on Instagram, what other parts of your life are you artistic?
J: Oh creativity. At my roots, I am a problem solver. Initially, that is where I find creativity begins for me, when I am presented with an opportunity to meet a need or find a solution. Even if the “problem” is not a problem at all, just a job that needs to be done – I enjoy the challenge of doing what needs/ wants to be done the best possible way.
I have several outlets for my creativity other than instagram, which really is my newest outlet. Music is a major creative outlet in my life, Im a mandolin player. I started playing bluegrass growing up, never really stopped. Nothing like the sound of the bark of a mandolin, and the roll of a banjo. Besides instagram, photography, and music I have major passion for good design. I am still an infant in creating good design, but I consider myself a lifelong student of the world around me, so I tend to see creative outlets everywhere. Especially outdoors. Thats probably the largest reason rock climbing captured my interest about five years ago. There is no other environment for me to find both solace and personal challenge as on the side of a mountain somewhere. My roommates and I are climbing partners, we spend just about every weekend outside somewhere in the Blue Ridge mountains either tied into a rope or climbing on 15 to 25ft boulders. Climbing isn’t just a weekend creative thing of me though. I built a 16 ft 45 degree wall in my loft, and train just about everyday. It keeps me dreaming of potential possibilities on a daily basis. Thats what creativity should do right? Challenge us to reach higher, and accomplish/ create something that never really existed in our own lives before? I think so.
B: When you first started, what was your typical subject shot? Did you find that you’re photography changed since being on IG?
J: When I first started posting photos to instagram, I was very fortunate to be roommates with @studiojohnny and @simonasher who showed me what IG was all about and the potential it held to bring people together through photos. Initially I was excited for it to be the new flickr, but quickly realized it plays an entirely different role. My first shots were of what I was doing, where I was, or who I was with. Which My IG shots still are, but after some time I gain confidence to take a few extra minutes to say “I am gonna shoot some mobile shots”. That little confidence changed my shots to be more thought out, rather than just twit pic content on a different platform.
B: Can you share with us your favorite shots and tell us a bit about them?
J: My favorite shots tend to be the ones that are the most personal to me. Whether its shots that are of great memories, people I love, or moments that really impacted me as an individual.
B: Tell us about how you got started on Instagram and what it felt like when you started to realize the community aspects of it.
J: So funny story, I downloaded instagram a few weeks after its release but didn’t take the time to explore that it was in fact a stand alone social platform. I thought it was just a couple of photo filters, so I deleted it. In december, this past year, I downloaded it because several of my roommates where talking about this “awesome girl from Chicago named @swopes” that they had met from instagram while they were in the city for a video job. I didn’t understand what they meant by “from instagram” so I asked and my education and journey on instagram began. I think I am partial to Instagram, because my (real) first impression of the app was from a conversation about relationships created through a cell phone app. I was immediately infatuated with the idea of sharing passion and community with people all over the world through creative photo sharing. As I began to spend time using instagram,I realized how much potential was in those little square framed images and the impact that communication with strangers was actually impacting a new form of community via cell phone app.
My own personal life has fully adopted Instagram as part of my everyday experiences. Whether it is the people that I am spending time with, the trials that I am hiking, or even the challenges in life that I am facing; I use instagram to capture, share, and document my life.
B: The “Stuff that Instagramers Say” video was viral with the community. Can you tell us a bit more about it? The idea, the vision, the process. The whole bag of chips.
J: Oh, what fun. “Stuff Instagramers Say” was a blast to make, and honestly it was super easy to flow through the creative process. It started with my buddy @ryancarl sending me an email with a bunch of one sentence lines titled “stuff instagramers say”. I was rolling with laughter because the entire list of lines were all, at the time, inside jokes between the downtown lynchburg crew of instagramers. Ryan suggested we film the meme video, so met up on a friday afternoon and just started quoting anything and everything we could remember our friends ever saying while instagraming. Im being serious, every line in that entire video was a direct jab at one of our friends. We were all aware of how ridiculous we act with our cell phones, so we thought it would be fun to follow in the already trending meme video series that was all over YouTube.
It was that laughter, and fun that we had from making that video that led us to realize that we were by no means the only crew of creatives who came together over instagram. We were aware of the community of the app, but after that video was shared so extensively, and we received so much feedback about how people “related” to it that we had the realization of meeting the need to bring as many grammars together in person and through video as possible. Thus, we went into brainstorm mode and came out with the vision for Pilgramers! A group that every instagramer could be part of, in search of beauty, laughter, and community with other people who are passionate about life.
B: Pilgramers. A great idea and story. Can you share with us some of your favorite stories with people you have met along the road?
J: Well thanks, yeah the story of the instagramer community truly is inspiring. The people who have adopted instagram as part of their lives are amazingly all incredible individuals. Pilgramers hopped in a car and traveled across the United States this summer, and no matter where we were in the country were greeted by the most passionate, kind, and loving people. I expected to meet great people but there was no way I could’ve realistically had expectations high enough for just how awesome the people we came across were. While we were on the road I began to realize that I really wanted to be able to remember some of the people who were so greatly impacting me, so I bought a Fuji Instax camera and began taking instant film pictures of some of the people that were impacting me so greatly. I’d like to share a few them with you! So here they are!
B: What’s next for Jody? J: Next is Australia! We are excited to announce in our newest episode of “Pilgramers” that we are headed to Australia in November for Hamilton Island’s “Ultimate Australian Instameet”. Myself along with Ryan Carl, Thomas Fischer, and John Carl will be meeting up with instagramers in Australia November 19th- 27th. So excited for this opportunity, and can’t wait to continue to growing relationship with people here in our local community, and across the globe.