TikTok star Maris Jones can time-travel—well, sort of. On the app, the Brooklyn-based photographer and filmmaker specializes in making mini short films that capture the essence of virtually any year. On her page, which now has over 578,000 followers, Jones posts “through the decades” videos, in which she fully gets into character and embodies the mod tights of the ’60s, the big hair of the ’80s, and the grungy fashions of the ’90s, among others.
Jones spans the eras in many different formats, whether it's exploring outfits, bedroom decor, and even cell phones. The campier her filming style is, the better. Making shorts is something she has been doing since she was young. “I used to take my toys and film them,” she says. When she joined TikTok in 2019, she saw the app as an opportunity to continue her love of filmmaking as an adult. “I saw it as another way to do what I love, and share it with people in hopes that they might have some fun and get a bit of enjoyment from what I create as much as I do,” she says. “I love being taken out of my everyday life and being whisked away on an adventure. If I can do that for someone else, that’s pretty neat.”
As Jones began posting her cinematic creations over the past few years, she saw her followers responding to her more nostalgic TikToks, which have now become her prime focus. “I love the idea of nostalgia and how we feel so comforted by our memories,” Jones says. “I am fascinated with how it always seems so rosy when we look back at them.” She says her favorite part is always finding the right retro fashions to wear in her videos. “Everyone I know gives me their old clothes or vintage pieces, because they know I will find use for them,” Jones says. “Half of my closet is filled with family members' old clothes that they don’t wear anymore, but they don’t want to get rid of.”
Below, Jones talks about her creative process, what her favorite era is, and what her next TikTok will be.
What's your process for creating TikToks?
My process is a bit chaotic. I am so disorganized, and I would be lying if I said I did any form of planning other than jotting down a few words on a piece of paper before I start creating. I then get to work building a set, if needed. I like working this way because I don’t feel any pressure of a specific end product. I just let my mind run free. After I build a set, I set up lighting and camera, get dressed, and shoot! I get my ideas from music usually. I get these vivid visuals in my head that I can’t shake when I listen to music, and then I toss the images around in my head for a bit, trying to find a cohesive concept that I like. I tend to treat all of my videos like creative exercises to see what I can accomplish! It’s so rewarding when what I see in my head comes to life.
What programs do you use? How did you get so good?
I have been using Final Cut to edit my videos. I use photoshop for animations, and a little after effects depending on the video for a little extra pizzaz. I have been working on my craft continuously for years now and all I can say about getting better at what you do is that I create constantly. Whether the idea is amazing to me or just fun, I like to try it out. As creators, we are forever growing and changing, so I am always trying to push myself. I also realized the only way to continue to get better is to enjoy the process and just go for it! Trusting your imagination is so key in finding an external creative voice. I am excited to see what the next 5 years does to my work.
How would you describe your day-to-day style when you're not "in character?”
I would say my style is “young ’80s professional” mixed with a bit of contemporary and giant chunky shoes. I have been wearing blazers and giant shoulder padded coats since as long as I can remember.
What's the most special piece in your closet?
My most special pieces are definitely coats. My grandmother has passed down a few really amazing ones that I am so afraid to ruin. One is a custom, floor-length green velvet coat from the mid ’60s that has large gold buttons. The other is this bright orange, camel-haired long coat from the ‘80s.
Your fashion by the decades video is epic. How did you find the perfect look for each era?
Over the years, I have tried to pick up on the legitimate styles of each era, so at this point I feel like I have general knowledge of each time period. That being said, I still sometimes like to double check just to make sure, and I know I can always learn more. It gets complicated because style changes throughout each decade. There is the beginning which is similar to the previous decade, the middle which is probably the true vibe of what people think when they think of a time period, and then there is the end, which is the transition into the next period. Sometimes it’s so hard to choose what style you want to go with.
What would you say is your favorite decade for fashion?
My favorite decade for fashion is definitely the ‘80s. It was such an absurd time for style, filled with decadence and bold designs.
What has been your most viral video, and why do you think it went viral?
I made an evolution of bedroom decor, and it got about 7.5 million views. I think it went viral because I put so much effort into the detail of the room. I get so nerdy about detail in the videos, and I usually go beyond what I need to do. I also think that something like bedroom decor is a universal thing that people have in common. I try to really stick to the general pop culture vibe when I do evolutions, so even if your room didn’t look like that, you know someone who did have that bedroom.
What's your favorite TikTok of all time? And which one took you the longest?
I made one at the beginning of the pandemic that I called “The Great Rock N Roll Escape.” I love it so much because it sort of started me on this new trajectory of creating more narrative videos that involve adventure. I had been making stuff like that over the years, but I felt like I finally had the time to create what was in my head. I also think that may have been the one that took me the longest to make, and I think I spent about two weeks on it overall. The video is of me driving down a road, then I shift gears and fly away through the clouds with a giant rainbow trailing behind me. I spent a few days building a car out of cardboard, then a few other days making miniature sets for the other shots followed by a bunch of animation. I love it.
What's the next big idea you want to attempt on TikTok?
There is one idea that has been bouncing in my head for months now that I haven’t had the time to make yet. That moment I have some time I will be so excited to execute it. It’s a roller skating-themed video and it involves a lot of magic. I have to build a giant magic road among stars, so let’s see if I can pull that off. I also should probably get a tiny bit better at roller skating before I attempt to shoot it.