CMU Lookbook

What started out as a passion project has quickly become a campus sensation. Darren Mok, the creator of CMU Lookbook (@cmu.lookbook on Instagram), sat down with me again this week to talk to me about what’s changed and what’s coming for Lookbook.

When I met with Mok last semester, his account had about 600 followers. However, it tripled in size by the end of the last semester, having amassed about a thousand new followers. He attributes a lot of his success to the fact that it started on a college campus, since it provided him with an “interactive fanbase.” People wanted to be featured and got excited when their friends were featured, gaining traction not only with students but also organizations. The Tartan, as well as the Life at CMU and official Carnegie Mellon Instagram accounts, featured Mok’s work on their respective platforms.

However, in addition to his support from the community, his dedication to CMU Lookbook and his consistent work cannot go unnoticed. Although his vision for the page has shifted and he has not maintained the daily posting schedule he once had, a lot of big things are happening behind the scenes for Mok and Lookbook. He did not want to spoil it for us, but these “big picture plans” include expanding — he hopes to get more people involved by recruiting photographers, bloggers, and other creatives to his team — and rebranding the account, as well as collaborating with more of the Carnegie Mellon community.

In the last few months, Mok has worked with the likes of White Porcelain Apparel, a clothing brand created by business administration senior Charles Y. Wang, as well as Lunar Gala, the SPIRIT Fashion Show, and Carnegie Mellon-based music duo AWFBEAT.

Mok has come a long way since the beginning of CMU Lookbook. In the beginning, most of his time taking photos was spent explaining to people what it was, but now that his account is pretty well known, he actually gets to spend his time engaging with the people he works with in more meaningful ways. The account has become more deliberate, and the background work he puts in “can’t be seen concretely,” but he hopes that his effort will show through when he relaunches the account after the “incubation period” is over and the rebranding takes place.

Although in some ways he feels weird being the man behind the camera, as he is often known by his account but not his name, he really appreciates the connections he’s made and the creative community he’s become a part of at Carnegie Mellon and in the surrounding Pittsburgh area. He acknowledged that even though everyone has their own thing, the community has been extremely supportive of each other, “thinking of ways to grow as our own entity” while also “bringing each other up.”

He argued that it’s a “big enough platform” for anyone to succeed, provided that you’re willing to put the time and commitment into whatever project you’re passionate about. “If you really want it to happen and you care about it enough, there’s definitely enough tools and [people] willing to work with you.” He knew nothing about the “creative space” going into it last year, but his passion and drive made everything possible for him.