Interview with Petra - Owl Agency and Droplove
Last week we spoke with Petra Kemkova. Petra is the co-founder of Owl Agency, which represents artists and connects them with advertisers, digital agencies and other commercial clients and lately she has been working on a new platform for NFT artists called Droplove. We talked to Petra about her experiences with blockchain, what she likes or dislikes, and what she considers to be the biggest obstacle in this industry.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and about your current projects
Hello, my name is Petra Kemkova and I’m a Co-founder and CEO at Owl Agency, an agency representing illustration and animation artists for commercial collaborations and licensing their work. We are helping to find talent to work with global advertising, digital and communication agencies, as well as established publishers. Owl Agency is the mother company to the Minty platform to hire illustrators and its image bank with illustrations. The newest addition to the portfolio of companies I co-founded is an emerging blockchain tech solution we call Droplove.
In my previous professions (various designer positions), I was always somehow surrounded by image banks, so naturally, it got my attention when, quite a few years back, even the biggest stock images platforms on the market (Getty images, …etc.) published that they are not going to charge companies for licenses to digital assets because lawsuits are more expensive than leaving the whole market free of charge. So when I first read about NFT being a unique proof of ownership to digital assets, it got my attention.
But the reason I started working more closely with NFT technology is that we (in agency) are always on the lookout for interesting opportunities for our artists, either for marketing or finding new markets and distribution channels to sell their art. For example, we have a collaboration with Adobe Stock to resell licenses for existing images. So when the first NFT minting platforms popped-up, we evaluated it as a new distribution channel that we wanted our artists to be on. We started to sell moving images via a few accounts on Foundation. Later we joined forces with the smart contract developer and started to work on our own minting platform.
The idea was to make our own curated minting platform, where we would help artists to create smart contracts for their NFT projects. We started when only about four platforms existed. Along the way we pivoted and we are now working on democratizing NFT drops by building a tool that will enable anyone to deploy their own smart contract, even if they are unable to code it themselves. It’s not about art projects anymore, you can deploy your own profile image, create event tickets, deploy wearables, or tokens. With Ondrej Sarnecky as the CTO and Andrej Kiszling as the CEO, I have big hopes for the project.
At the same time, we are helping with a few NFT art projects that will become use cases for our smart contract minter tool. Two of them I would recommend keeping an eye on if you are into collecting or trading: Unimpressed Geisha and Crystalians. Tech is solid, art exceptional and we are still working on utilities and fiddling roadmaps to make them interesting for collectors.
2. Why are you personally interested in cryptocurrencies and/or Blockchain?
New tech usually means new opportunities. I see all blockchain projects as use-cases of what blockchain technology can do. Many of them I expect to either die, or stay as a small subculture, but a few of them I think will define the market of the future. It may also only be the change of the technology in the background, it might not be visible to many people after all. But overall, it may be a huge technology shift.
3. What was your first experience with crypto-currency or blockchain?
My first transaction was testing on the Kovan network, Ondrej had transferred Ether money to me to test what we had developed. I wasn't a miner or trader before. In my head, I had the technology associated with illegal stuff, which later I learned was just to test the security of the network. Because of this bad PR, and lack of regulation and possible issues with law enforcement, many people hesitate to enter, and I was one of them.
4. Other than your own, what do you consider to be the best blockchain project and why?
This question is out of my scope. I feel I know very little about most of these projects. I find it fascinating that someone was able to pull off currencies as big as Ethereum, or Bitcoin. I would need to have another life to study it (besides my education in Economics), but there is a ton of financial trading stuff that is certainly very interesting. I hope Jakub Gregus’s Hydra DX, the multi-headed liquidity omnipool, will be successful, and I hope David Stancel’s Fumbi will hit it off as well. I’d love to have successful friends ;) I love many art projects, like Damien Hirst's elaboration about the value of NFT art, where he gave his collectors one year to decide whether they want to keep an NFT, or whether they would rather exchange it for his offline art piece. It’s all very exciting.
5. If you could change one thing about blockchain and crypto in general, what would it be?
I would love a well-made wallet in terms of UX, translated to all languages for people to set them up and start using it. I would like to be able to set up a company wallet account and make it part of the accounting of the company. Recently, we were to pay an artist with company money to his crypto wallet and it was impossible to do it the proper way. Also, I would love to be protected by law from scammers and thieves. I think these are currently the biggest barriers that prevent many companies from using the technology.
6. What is a question you most often ask in relation to cryptocurrencies and blockchain?
“Why? How? What?” Are always my questions if something doesn’t work as it should and there is no one to go to. If you have a problem, there is no one to help. In the old world, market mediators or gatekeepers were the ones, providing such services. But who is going to provide them in a decentralized system?
7. What is the most common problem you have, and how would you solve this problem?
The vocabulary. When people who understand blockchain start to talk to each other, many outsiders feel like they are talking in a different language. This is not a blockchain problem only. Every time you work in a startup or new project or new tech there are communication errors. I found out about this phenomenon in the first startup I worked for in 2010 in London. We were an international team working on a project, designing newspaper templates for the very first iPad. I love this example. When you look at the newspaper layout, there are always 5 elements. Title, subheading, abstract, article, and signature. Only 5 elements. Even if we all spoke English, British English, American English, New Zealand English has all different names for those 5 elements, plus there are like 8 more synonyms for each. Now we invented new elements for digital use only and had to call it something. We found it very hard to communicate between different departments, developers were calling it differently than designers. Now imagine that there is a 100 of new words that we use in web 3.0
8. Where do you see the future of blockchain?
There is way too much money in it for nothing to happen, but mediator/support/guidance services are absent. I see it as a technology switch in the background of things. Your father might not even notice it. He will just start using a new app or open a new bank account, or buy a new online book, and it will just run on blockchain. Of course, anything can happen at this point, so let’s keep our eyes open and prepare for our minds to be blown.
We thank Petra for having this interview with us. If you are interested in the Owl Agency, head over to their website. If you are interested in their NFT platform, you can also check out the Droplove website
Do you know of an interesting blockchain project that would be interested in having an interview with us? Feel free to send me an email, we’d love to hear your thoughts and publish them on our blog.