the csm student who photoshopped himself a new identity
“I think everyone takes these sort of things far too seriously. I just find it really interesting as a modern phenomenon.”
Image via Instagram
Look at Anthon Raimund’s Instagram and you’ll find images that tell the story of a decadent London socialite with a taste for fine dining, lavish clothes and an extreme Photoshop habit. But the man in the pictures, a 21-year-old in his second year at Central Saint Martins, is an entirely different person day to day. Welcome to the age of the Instagram impostor.
“Part of what’s so fun about my Instagram is that it’s completely fake. I’m really fascinated by people being such fakes on the internet. I love pretending to be a completely different person,” Anthon explains. Born in Berlin and raised in the English countryside, IRL Anthon is a down-to-earth guy without a trace of cosmetic work.
He does, however, enjoy donning the long blonde wig and make-up even when he’s off camera. “I definitely identify as a man,” he clarifies, “but I do dress up the way that you see on my Instagram, it’s how I go to school every day. If I’m dating and hanging out, I’ll always be really stripped back and wearing men’s clothes. If I don’t have that wig on I have no make-up on.” For Anthon reality is a board to bounce from into the limitless world of online identity.
Growing up on sites like Bebo and Myspace, he was a part of the internet revolution of self- curation. Back then, social media involved creating a persona with selfies, music links and ‘about me’ paragraphs. In 2018 all of this has been reduced down to carefully chosen images on Instagram. People are fixated on projecting the perfect life with just the right array of images. Appearance has never so significantly defined a person -- with Instagram connected to Tinder, even the fate of modern romance owes itself to edited photos. And when the world became obsessed with basing themselves on an airbrushed image, @anthonraimund followed, “I always edited my photos of myself, like everyone does, in a very normal way but then it kind of just evolved. At first it was a bit of a joke but then as I did it more it started to become a character, which has been really helpful for my design work. Essentially fashion is all about creating a character.”
Anthon saw the potential for Instagram to become an elaborate extension of identity, and used that to create his own realm of superficiality. With plump pillow lips, porcelain skin and razor-sharp cheekbones, his Photoshopping has taken his look beyond that of mere mortals, reminiscent of the warped, CGI version of herself that SOPHIE presented in her recent Faceshopping video. As editing became a hobby for Anthon the whole thing became a game: “I wanted to try and convince everyone that this was my real hair and I looked like this all the time.”
The unrealistic proportions and overtly sarcastic captions of @anthonraimund naturally critique modern celeb culture. We’re living in a world where fakery is concealed, causing people to idolise unachievable aesthetics. The account @celebface, reveals original shots next to celebrity Instagram posts of the same image, exposing everything from Bella Hadid’s waist editing to Kendall Jenner’s nose slimming. Just like Anthon’s transparent fakery, the reality check is that Instagram is full of cartoon ideals.
Anthon sees excessive editing as hilarious and the explosion of online celebrity culture as inspirationally entertaining. “I think everyone takes these sort of things far too seriously. I just find it really interesting as a modern phenomenon.” Perspective is key: designers reflect the times in their work, so to Anthon flawlessly edited images of famous people are the ultimate contemporary inspo. “It’s the only new thing I see today. It’s unique to our times and we’ve never seen anything like that before so I think that’s really fascinating.”
His current muses are a group of Russian rich girls who pose, airbrushed, against glossy backdrops of palm trees, sports cars and yachts. “They’re all really bizarrely perfect online and vulgarly take pictures of all their expensive clothes and cars in a different country every week. They’re insane.” He sees these profiles as glossy, highly elevated realities, like his own. Inspiring in their creative imagination and definitely not a reflection of real life. Anthon emphasises the amusement of social media’s blatant shallowness and other-worldly beauty standards: “I want my Instagram to be funny in a playful way. I love how people on Instagram are flamboyant and shameless. I think that has a lot of flair and humour, I find them genuinely really exciting and interesting.”
In our cat-fishing, Photoshopping, face-swapping society, believing everything you see online seems a bit ridiculous. Life according to Anthon means we can laugh at our creepy obsession with celeb perfection, accepting it as a low-key twisted craze. The Claudia Schiffer come Donatella Versace wunderkind, born through 21stt century fakery can only make you love it and laugh. The vital key, though, is to see through the façade, as Anthon tells us, “I look at it all as a complete fantasy. I think that’s what’s so great about it.”