Louis N. LaPierre is a conceptual artist whose work stretches across multiple mediums. The work that flows from his hands is relevant, thoughtful and I daresay a little defiant (in the best possible way of course). There is nothing commercial about what Louis creates, he is first and foremost an artist, silently challenging people to get the joke and/or deeper meaning of what he makes. Every time I see something new from him my mind bends trying to understand it… The body of his work is exciting and expansive, bouncing between humor and complex thought. I’m happy to have a piece of his included in my growing art collection and absolutely humbled that he agreed to be interviewed.
MM: Hi Louis, Thanks so much for chatting with me today. If you’re ready to go, we shall begin.
LL: We’re on the record…
MM: Yep. So, I know you work with a bunch of different mediums, but do you consider yourself a certain type of artist? Have you labeled yourself? Hahaha….
LL: I guess I don’t care too much about labeling myself. Labels are for other people to understand what I do, and I do too much. At the core I’m just a creator, and I enjoy making things. My go-to’s are glassblowing, street art, and studio art. But I really love anything I can literally get my hands on…..
MM: You know that’s a really good point you just made, I don’t like labeling myself, or my work either. I think that many Creatives and/or Makers hate this. If you’re a creative, you just do.
MM: You love to work with just about anything… With this in mind, what are you inspired by? If it’s not materials, what is it? A cultural issue? Is your work a form of self-expression?
LL: I don’t like to limit things. Even thou I work in different veins, I find that the creative process in general informs all mediums. I believe that you really have to keep an open mind and allow things to happen. My inspiration is just a snow ball of were I am in life. The key for me is to be open-minded and aware of everything around me. Inspiration comes from my daily life, the things I see in the streets, science —I love science—and really kind of working out my frustrations. Creating makes me feel better.
MM: How do you stay open-minded? Often makers/creators stay in a creative rut because it’s comfortable… I’m guessing that being open-minded is an important personal trait to have, for an artist to stay innovative.
LL: Honestly I’ve got myself so spread out I’m rut proof… And that’s a key for my art practice.
MM: I love that! I can totally see how it’d be easy to stay open-minded when you have your hands involved in a lot of different things. I know you have a few different projects going on, but what are you working on at the moment?
LL: I’ve got a ton of things I have to get done and so many things (ideas) I’m brewing over. My studio painting is my main priority, but I don’t rush that, that happens when the time is right. I don’t plan my paintings I jump right in. I usually have at least a dozen going at a time, I think of them as puzzles. Some I solve rather quickly, some I have never solved. Either way I let them take on their own pace, they kind tell me when they’re done.
LL: In addition to that, I’ve really been into making glass replica animal skulls. Their instantaneous, not much content, but they just become beautiful little objects. I’m always ready to do a burning (graffiti term for fancy graffiti piece). Plus, I’ve been tinkering with half a dozen other mediums and/or mixed mediums, not sure were any of those will go, but they’re all teaching me new things.
MM: I’ve been totally into your glass replica animal skulls lately… Did I read that this is a collaboration? Are they available for sale? If yes where?
LL: I make the glass skulls and on occasion I’ve collaborated with a friend who does wire wrapping— he’s made some headdresses for a couple of my skulls out of silver. I’ve had a hard time building up a stock of the skulls, I’m trying to keep up with custom orders. Custom work keeps things fresh and pushes me….. it’s much more fulfilling to me than production work.
MM: Ugh. I hate production. Making 100 of the same things kills me inside. The skull replicas are amazing, are they connected to your interest in science?
LL: My interest in science is what sparked them. When I was younger I would poke dead things with a stick along the train tracks, but never had the guts to actually play with them. So, I started making my own. The skulls aren’t a main focus of mine, but they’re a go to thing …
MM: Ahhh, dead things… My mom collects skulls that she discovers while working in the woods. When I was younger I thought her skull collection was freaky. Now, of course, I think the collection is pretty cool and want it for my own home.
MM: Besides studio painting and glass blowing, you’re a pretty great graffiti artist. I’d like to know more about Graf. I know nothing of the culture. Can you give me a little insight?
LL: Ahhh, Graf is a very selfish act. There is defiantly some sort of sociological thing that drives people to do it. Every one in the graffiti community is on there own agenda. I personally am a purist and think it’s about placement and pushing your skills, but some kids just want to destroy stuff.
MM: That’s interesting, I’ve never thought of it in that way… When you talk about placement and pushing skills, what does that mean to you?
LL: Well, in my mind just running down the street and writing on stuff doesn’t do any good. It’s thoughtless. The right colorful and crisp piece of graffiti, on the right piece of urban decay can become majestic. It’s the whole thing, not just the graffiti, but it’s joining with the landscape that gives the graffiti content. When you don’t consider graffiti’s surroundings it’s just color and shape. In the end it’s the placement that gives the art its voice. The city experience as a graffiti artist is unique, I covet it and hesitate to share it ‑ ultimately it’s a driving force in my studio work.
MM: I hear you. I believe that when created thoughtfully, graffiti can have such a positive impact on a city. It’s art uncensored for everyone to enjoy. There’s something brilliant about that. Cameron and I hunted down some graffiti in San Francisco. The act of searching for these specific pieces brought us to a part of the city that we wouldn’t have ventured too. Ultimately, the hunt for it caused us to experience an entire city differently. It was a powerful experience for me.
LL: It’s funny that it’s art for everyone, but at the same time it was created under the umbrella of someone being like, “Everyone’s gonna see me— that’s my name up there!!!”
MM: So, then are graffiti artists exhibitionists? (Metaphorically speaking of course.)
MM: You sent me a couple shots of some of your street art. Will you share where those are located in case anyone reading wants to go exploring, or is that a big no-no?
LL: I can’t spill the spots. If people want to go exploring they should go. This city is filled with crazy nooks and crannies, you’ll definitely discover a bizarre form of exhibitionism.
MM: I guess it’s time to go hunting! I know I get to enjoy a lot of Graf Art in my neighborhood (Lake and Chicago) so that would be a good place to start for those that are curious…
MM: Alright, time for last words—Any advice to other Creatives who need some? This is your moment to pay it forward.
LL: I would like to circle back to a point I made earlier, Comfort. Comfort doesn’t bread progression. Not a signal aspect of my creative process is comfortable. Glass can break at any time, the act of graffiti is never comfortable, and my studio process is mostly hair pulling. It’s that conflict and resolution that breathes energy into my work. Embrace it….
Want to know more about Louis his work? Check out his site, louisnlapierre.com or follow him on instagram @louiedafinga