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Interview with Hannah Stouffer, Founder / Director of H+ Creative

During the pandemic, consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels, and companies and industries have responded in turn. Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap in the business world and made a rapid shift toward interacting with customers through digital channels. The need for digital strategies is obvious, among that the world of digital arts can help to visual innovative ideas. Custodian.Art's Annette Doms met with H+ Creative, Founder/Director to discuss secrets of leading an agency through this day and age.

A: Hannah, what is your background?

HS: I have a long history of being a creative in the creative world and the art world. I was a commercial creator and exhibited painter for a long time. I also worked as a writer for a couple of publications, all about creative platforms and as an art curator. I wrote books about art, one about psychedelic art, one about new modernism, one about light and one about ceramics. I started H+ 5 years ago. The launch event was a curated exhibition at Art Basel Miami, which was a kind of first showcase in presenting and promoting artists who work in what I was calling new futurism,

futuristic or media. There were 3D artists, 2D artist, sculpture artists, painter and from there we focused down to 80% digital artists.

A: When was the moment you decided to open an agency for the future of visual media? What triggered you?

HS: That was about probably 6 or 7 years ago, working as a creator and curator, wanting to build something bigger than myself. I always really liked pushing and promoting other people’s work. I always was aware of the work that was being created: in themes, in movements and I saw this kind of futuristic, digital themes, these kind of utopian and dystopian themes started to happen and I really wanted to figure out what that was.

A. Who was your first client?

HS: The first launch was the curated show with Art Basel Miami, where we partnered with Hotel 1 and with four other partners. We were building a fine art exhibition, a group show with 15 to 20 artists. That was our first showcase. It wasn’t client based, it was exhibition based. We also made prints, booklets, we got press, we had an exhibition, we had an opening reception, it was like a week long showing at Art Basel Miami.

A: What was your biggest challenge so far?

HS: It is a raising landscape as you have have seen obviously in the last couple of month, that is constantly evolving and technology moves very quickly. I think that the reason why H+ went so successful is because we are able to also move quickly and the artists we work with are also evolving with their skillsets and knowledge of technology in AR and VR or NFTs, but it’s a very fast moving space. It’s a kind of being aware of what is happening on the creative side and the technology side and also in what clients, collaborator or partners are invested or interested in. There are really big waves: VR / AR, the waves of 3D and now the waves of NFT – it’s just about riding those waves and being able to support and assist the artists and also to accompany our clients and corporates. Yes it is a challenge, but a positive challenge, because it’s also fun, it’s a kind of just think to navigate the next new thing.

A: And what do you think the future of visual media will be?

HS: It’s always gonna keep changing, we are more and more integrated into the digital, into the technological advancement: in VR, AR and experiences in the digital space and NFTs . You have seen it in the last 5 years when all of these digital platforms have just exploded. Social media is huge, NFTs are huge, everyone has a phone, a computer, it’s just like what the focus is.

A: Will current developments change the perception of visual media?

HS: Yes of course. People are really inspired by technology. There will be some digital direction that we don’t know yet, there will be some things people get really attached and used to… I don’t know if AR will last forever or if we find a better way to do AR. I don’t know if NFT will last forever, but that’s all a kind of societal demographic conversation, as to what works and what’s too much. I's more a global conversation what people are interested in accepting. The new generation is definitively more open to it than I was. These artists just start with 3D, with digital tool from the beginning.

A: Is H+ like a model firm? So that I can chose an artist from a set card / or your Website for my special project and you mediate the artists?

HS: Yes we represent the artists in all assets of their space and their career, and of course based on the availability when there is an artists you want to work with we overtake the whole communication, we manage everything from their schedule to their projects, to the contracts, the agreements and everything that is involved in advance of their career.

Work by Grace Casas

A: Do you represent them exclusively?

HS: Some we do, some we don’t. Every contract is different depending on the artists needs, but most of them we represent exclusively for a while.

A: Do YOU choose the artists? Are the artists able to apply?

HS: I do and it’s a very curated and intentional selection. We do accept submissions, we also have a submissions link on our website. And we have had some amazing artists that have come to us, but also some amazing artists that we approached. It’s definitively a mix. But at the end of the day it’s a very intentional curation process – and the factor of the work, the skillset, the talent and their own personal art direction as well.

Work by Blunt Action

A: How to become an artist for the future of visual media?

HS: It’s nothing that you can learn in school. But there are meanwhile online courses available, many artists learn from YouTube tutorials. There is such a great online community with artists offering their own tutorials and sharing their secrets in making art. It’s more a self-taught, a self-chosen direction and all of these artists have really put time in creating their own style and watching artists that they admire and respect. All of these programs are so new, you can’t take a class where you can learn about AR filters, you can’t take a class on how do I create an NFT. It’s more a self-driven direction for these artists working in the 3D digital space, which is super cool because the driving factor is their own intension and desire to make this kind of work. It is not as simple as just like learning in school. They all have their background in design, graphic design, architecture, painting and all that is a part of what their creative output looks like now.

A. What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?

HS: I would say it’s being flexible, it’s about myself staying educated and to be open to learning and knowledge, to technological advances and it’s a kind of shifting our grounding to accommodate both the creatives and the clients.

A: Did anything change since the NFT market went through?

HS: A lot is changed. It’s become a whole new brand to our business It’s become a whole new outlet for the artists that we work with to showcase and have collectors. It’s a whole new marketing platform for our clients. It’s a whole new platform that the work that we do can exists on. It’s such a new option because it’s all based in the blockchain. It’s validated our artists a lot working in this space, because their work can be seen now as more collectible and more secure. There wasn’t really a space for them to sell their originals before or to own their work. So now it is a kind of snowball, people and clients want to be part of it, people want to be engaged with this space and want to use it for their own private purposes. There are a lot of possibilities that we can merge for our own business – for sure.

A: What do you think about the competition in this industry?

HS: We are the best, to be honest. There isn’t much competition in terms of agencies or representation firms. We are definitively the highest curated and highest level talent agency. We all have the same goal in mind, which is success and support, advancements and working on cool projects.


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