St Laurent Jr
@StLaurentJr Published July 21, 2023

What’s your background and how did you get into AI art?

I come from a programming background. I’ve spent years coding, troubleshooting, and collaborating with designers at various companies. But there was a creative spark in me, a desire to build something unique. So, I left my stable job and launched my own online fashion store. Some of my designs were so successful that they were replicated and sold on sites like AliExpress. Even though it was a bit disheartening, it made me realize that my ideas had value.

During this period, I started exploring art more deeply. I travelled, visited museums, read art books, and attended lectures. The more I learned, the more I wanted to create. But there was a roadblock - I didn’t have formal training in art. Then AI came along, and it changed everything. It lowered the barriers to entry into art. And my programming skills came in handy. Tweaking scripts and using tools like Stable Diffusion was easy for me. So, I began my journey in AI art. And I’m really glad I took that leap.

An outsider’s view” by St Laurent Jr exclusively for AI Surrealism, 2023. Available on Foundation.

What drives you to create?

I recently encountered the idea that the drive to create art and express oneself is a fundamental human need. In my travels to various ethnographic museums, I’ve seen how people have crafted ornaments while living in the harshest of conditions: for example, in extremely arid parts of Africa where cotton cannot be grown, people have invented ‘Barkcloth’ technology to produce fabric from tree bark; or in the freezing North, where icy emptiness is pervasive, and ornaments are carved out of animal bones - the very animals people hunt for survival. This is all art. This is all self-expression. It’s an innate desire to portray the world through one’s own unique lens. I share this desire. It fuels my drive to explore, understand, and realize my own self through art.

Darkness Embraced” by St Laurent Jr, 2023.

What does your workflow look like?

My process is fairly straightforward: I read books - both fiction and those related to art, I listen to lectures, and crucially… I take walks in nature. The latter is of particular importance because it is during these moments of relative inactivity, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, that the most impactful ideas emerge. At this point, insights gained from books and ideas from lectures somehow converge and amalgamate with my personal perspective, crafting vivid mental images. I meticulously record these visions in detail in my Notion notebook. Once back home, I translate these notions into sketches on paper. Then, I start employing tools such as Photoshop, (if I need to establish the correct human posture), Stable Diffusion, ControlNet, and so forth. Among neural networks, I predominantly use Stable Diffusion as it offers me more control over the creative process than Midjourney does. While I also appreciate Midjourney, the constant pressure of maintaining a subscription and not utilizing it can be somewhat irksome.

The Jack of Hearts” by St Laurent Jr, 2023. Available on Foundation.

How do you imagine AI (art) will be impacting society in the near future?

On a global scale, AI is already being recognized as a pivotal technology for the next phase of technological transition. This tool is poised to potentially replace high-paid professionals such as iOS or Android developers, and integrate into logistical processes, thereby making routine and mundane tasks more accessible and easier for people. It’s crucial to note that AI is not likely to replace everyday workers like couriers or those who interact directly with people in the next 5-10 years. For such roles, AI would need to exhibit exceptional flexibility, and that comes at a significant cost; so, who would require it? As for AI art, I see it merely as a new tool. I’ve reiterated this viewpoint on my Twitter - to an artist, AI is akin to an advanced pencil equipped with a myriad of features, but one that still necessitates understanding and skill to wield effectively.

Egocentrism” by St Laurent Jr exclusively for AI Surrealism, 2023.

AI Surrealism show by Exquisite Workers on display at Superchief Gallery NFT at the Oculus, NYC, 2023 with St Laurent Jr, True Camellia, Sasha Veres, and 97 other artists.

Who is your favourite artist?

Are we discussing artists who are still living, or those who have passed away? I can name a few pieces of work that have deeply impressed me.

“Mast-Tree Grove” by Ivan Shishkin may appear to be a simple landscape with trees, but it truly narrates a story. The trees depicted are destined to become masts; this is their nascent state, and their future is filled with voyages. It’s simple and brilliant.

“[Still Life with The Dance” by Henri Matisse is quite literally the behind-the-scenes of his genius work. I have a fondness for the impressionists, and I believe that AI artists are, in a way, the impressionists of our time.

And of course, there’s “The Last Day of Pompeii” by Karl Brullov. This piece inspired me to create “Venus and Mars’’ because I wanted to produce a work replete with fine details that can be closely examined. I think I succeeded in doing so.

Naturally, Marcel Duchamp and all of his works, which upheld the premise that the IDEA is crucial, are significant to me. I appreciate this concept in contemporary art.

Therefore, among the artists who are currently alive, I hold Maurizio Cattelan in high esteem for his work “Comedian”, which is essentially just an idea.

And, of course, Jeff Koons. A gigantic “Balloon Dog’’ crafted from stainless steel? It’s awe-inspiring. Having worked with this metal, I can imagine how labor-intensive the creation process was, given that stainless steel is not as pliable as other metals.

Among AI artists, I have a deep admiration for Stephan Vasement, graphica.png, MOONCHILD, and speakingtomato. I’m a major fan of their work. They each have their unique worldview, and the way they convey it garners my utmost respect.

From left to right: “Still Life with The Dance” by Henri Matisse; “The Dance” by Henri Matisse; “Mast-Tree Grove” by Ivan Shishkin. Inspiration of St Laurent Jr.

What is your favourite prompt when creating art?

Last year, when I started diving deeply into AI art, I began saving successful variations with full information about them: steps, seed, model, etc. I have thousands of them. But this is only for the start; I significantly refine my works. Here are some examples of prompts that were the basis:

Smoking Beauty before and after. Prompt: Photography smoking human in the room, smoke, bed, windows, mirrors, trees, morning mood, deep blue and black walls, high details, intricate oil painting, white space, golden ratio, cinematic.

More often than not, my works consist of different parts that I combine and refine. For instance with the following prompt, I made drafts:

man with a rake, winter, nature, overgrowth, deep blue mood, close-up, high details, intricate oil painting, white space, golden ratio, cinematic, by stanley kubrick

And then, I refined these sketches into the work “Cold Season’s Change”:

Cold Season’s Change” by St. Laurent Jr available on Objkt.

Do you have a specific project you’re currently working on? What is it?

Currently, I’m working on several projects. These include animations and static works. For the animations, I’ve already written the script and created storyboards. I’m studying TemporalNet to convey the necessary movements. One animation is dedicated to the idea of violence, another to the denial of reality, and the third emphasizes the necessity of flexibility in this complex world. As for the static works, after immersing myself in religious art and Greek myths, vivid images have formed in my mind. These images have been carefully described, and about 50% of the final art pieces based on them have been completed. I’m eager to finish these works as soon as possible, but there is still some work left to be done.

From left to right: “Raw Material” and “Walking Through The Storm” by St Laurent Jr, 2023.

Would you tell us about the AI Surrealism exhibition in NYC?

First and foremost, I want to extend my thanks to the curator Anna Dart. The theme of surrealism gave me the motivation to delve deeper into this style. I managed to create three beautiful pieces under this theme: “An Outsider’s View”, “Egocentrism”, and “Girl with a Trowel”.

I am ecstatic that the Superchief Gallery NFT was one of the organizers of this exhibition. I appreciate their work style; they are genuinely dedicated to bringing digital art to the mainstream, and they execute it wonderfully. What’s more, everything is still in its early stages, and those who manage to secure a place for themselves now will form the foundation of the entire movement in the future.

I was impressed with the effort Anna Dart and Roger Haus from Exquisite Workers put in, coming up with daily social media activities; their dedication is truly inspiring.

I am confident that if we all continue, curating exhibitions in digital art will take a significant leap forward. As many of us grow and make substantial contributions to the field, these connections will become a springboard for greater strides.

AI Surrealism official flyers featuring, Roope Rainisto, St Laurent Jr, 2023.

What does it mean to be an AI Surrealist for you in the times we live in?

While I don’t fully consider myself a surrealist, I have a deep appreciation for the genre. Surrealism has a unique capacity to challenge our perception of reality and present a distinct, often fantastical, viewpoint. Life can be cruel and unfair, yet its complexity renders it simultaneously beautiful and abundant with amazing people. This rich diversity fosters a desire to live, to explore novel concepts, revisit the old, and express oneself through art - via images, color arrangements, words, or expansive texts. I’m confident that, much like surrealism, AI art will empower many to share their unique vision of the world. These perspectives, far from being bleak, will be imbued with hope and aspiration for improvement.

Girl with a Trowel” by St Laurent Jr, 2023.

Suitor” by St Laurent Jr, 2023.

Anything else you would like to share?

I would like to express my profound gratitude to all my collectors for their faith in my creative endeavors. Their support allows me to delve deeper into the astonishing world of art. Despite the challenges we face in these times, I firmly believe that diamonds are formed under pressure - these difficulties only serve to strengthen us. When brighter days start replacing these strenuous times, all the wisdom and experience we have gathered will lay the foundation for a better world.

From left to right: “The Kind of Spades” and “Rehearsal before the concert” by St Laurent Jr, 2023. Available on Foundation.

by @dreamingtulpa