“Creativity is Creativity”: Louisa St. Pierre on the Unifying Thread Connecting NFTs With All Art Forms
For nearly three decades now, Louisa St. Pierre has been helping people navigate the ever-changing media landscape, representing some of the world’s most prominent artists. As an artist herself, she’s well positioned for her role as Global Director, Art + Experiential, at MA+ Group.
Clients find their way to MA+ Group looking for assistance with NFTs in two primary ways: 1) They are companies looking for more information on the metaverse and NFTs and seeking to engage customers of the future through the Web3 community; or 2) They are individual artists looking for strategy and education around the creativity and artistry aspects of the space.
Choosing Values-Driven Artists is Paramount
A consistent theme across our interviews with players in the NFT space is a community-oriented view, and Louisa echoed that when we spoke. “I like that mentality—that we’re all going to make it and we can work together in a way that’s constructive, helpful, and purpose-driven.”
She’s also politically motivated, hailing from an activist family of spies. This influences her desire to not only bring amount harmonious, efficient solutions in her work, but to work with companies and artists that align with her values.
“With the artists I curate, they all have extremely strong value systems. The more experienced I’ve become, the more I’ve been able to discern and choose my people. So, working with someone like Faith47, who’s about wellness, meditation, balance, and self-care and was the first female artist to be an ambassador for Hennessey. There aren’t that many women artists in the mural space because it’s so physically demanding, so that’s special. We’ve always been involved with purpose-driven, political campaigns. In the last election, we were proactive about getting people to vote or it could be raising money for Ukraine. How else could you raise $25 million in two days and be able to transfer that to another country, other than through blockchain?”
Faith XLVII RoyalSpirits
As for other artists whose work is inspiring her, she calls out Kevin McCoy–the first artist to mint an NFT—as well as Krista Kim, who she acknowledges as a “prophet of a woman; Krista speaks so eloquently about the metaverse as this utopian ideal that will inspire us to do better things in real life.” It’s worth noting that Krista is not only a woman in the NFT space but a woman of color, which is rare.
Kevin McCoy's QuantumLeap
Krista Kim Mars House
“Just 5% of the NFT purchasing population are not-male,” Louisa points out. “And women’s art sells for about half the price as men’s work. I love that Krista, as well as Viktoria Modesta, speak about those issues for the Web3 community, which claims to be so egalitarian and progressive and yet is so male-skewed.” Louisa herself includes these issues in panels she’s asked to be on, like the recent PSFK Conference.
NFT Smart Contracts Ensure Integrity
Louisa was initially interested in the technology governing NFTs because of smart contracts and the associated efficiencies of allowing artists to get paid directly on the blockchain. Then the pandemic began and NFT popularity surged, as people searched for a way to establish identity while in isolation.
“At first, I was very standoffish about it,” Louisa concedes. “I thought it was probably a fad, but it’s my job to work out for my artists what the options are, and then I really got sucked in. I love the way Web3 is truly subversive and the whole decentralized idea. The interoperability of metaverses that’s going to be realized—if not now, then certainly in the near future—I find that really fascinating.”
Smart contracts not only enable artists to get paid in more effective ways, but they also ensure integrity and value adherence within the contracts themselves. For example, Shepard Fairey’s work, which is very values-driven and political, benefits from incorporating contract terms that disallow anyone from taking the work out of context or appropriating it in harmful ways.
Louisa is currently working with Stephen Bliss to develop Fear City, featuring a dysfunctional NYC-based world of characters with guns, avarice, vice, and the like. (Bliss previously worked on GTA.) “With a project like this, the audience wants to create their own narrative with the characters that they’re going to mint generatively,” Louisa explains. “And we want them to do that because this is such a loyal, committed community making fan art that’s mind-blowing—but there has to be rules and regulations around it. Don’t be evil. Don’t use this work to perpetuate messages of hate. That’s a difficult thing to police when you’re creating a fictional world full of guns, so putting the guidelines in place that will resonate with the community and don’t feel limiting but more guiding is key. We have to make sure the contracts reflect the artist’s personal values. What charity can we donate to signal that we don’t support violent acts? This technology allows creatives to generate the work that they want while expert teams facilitate the minting and contracting processes and handle the business side of things.”
Stephen Bliss's Fear City
Despite how “dry” contracts may sound, all of this is in fact creative. “Creativity is creativity!” Louisa emphasizes. “Whether that’s parlayed into a photographic or illustrative image or something more elevated like fine art, or focusing on the utility and purpose of NFT, it’s all creative. That’s the unifying factor.”
Socialization of NFTs
The LAGO frame is launching at an interesting time; as we emerge from the pandemic and more isolated times, NFTs will become more integrated with our social landscape. As Louisa points out, people need human connection and they’ll want to bond over this new technology and their collections. NFTs, like any artwork, provide an easy, relatable commonality for people to discuss.
Louisa spoke about the importance of art as a vehicle to drive conversation and experience beyond what’s trending on social media. She detailed a project she worked on for Westfield, in which they created an immersive experience that involved building a waterfall and river and having people row boats to a secret destination where mermen served drinks and cabaret performers were on site.
“It sounds ridiculous but it was so incredibly successful because it was so unusual,” she recalls. “It’s a talk piece. It gives people something to talk about beyond TikTok. It’s a different experience, going to a physical event and meeting Kevin McCoy, versus passively viewing content online. We are human and we need human contact and our humanity stimulated in real life.”
“Personalization is the Future of Luxury”
As we continue to see the evolution of NFTs and blockchain technology unfold, Louisa looks to increased personalization as the future of luxury brands. Whether that’s providing IRL and NFT products that give patrons digital and physical bragging rights or finding another way to weave in personalized elements, she believes this idea will only expand.
“For example, one brand we work with likes the idea of a spirit animal. It’s relevant to the brand. So generatively, you get your spirit animal but creating artwork around that concept is fun and can be done in a sophisticated way. The mentality of gaining personal insight or new knowledge, as well as something that’s beautiful and personal to you—that kind of exclusive, personalized content is the future of luxury and inherently unlocking some important utility, whether that’s getting invited to a particular flagship store, being able to meet the artist, or getting to go to a special dinner.”
Ultimately, no matter what else happens, the customization and personalization aspects of NFTs are here to stay.