Written by Creative Lives in Progress
Mention by WePresent

Get to know the team and story behind WePresent, WeTransfer’s inspiring editorial platform

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Founded in 2018 by file-sharing service WeTransfer, WePresent serves as the company’s very own magazine and platform for all things creative inspiration. Brought to life by a full-time team of eight, as well as a huge range of freelancers, each month it attracts millions of readers from all over the world. With a stack of incredible projects under its belt, WePresent has produced films, features and exhibitions, in collaboration with artists including the likes of Solange Knowles, Riz Ahmed and FKA Twigs. Here, editor-in-chief Holly Fraser gives us insight into the backstory, approach and mission – including how you can pitch your own ideas – before we get to know more of the talented team.

WePresent


Based

Amsterdam, with additional locations in New York and Los Angeles

Founded

2018

Team Size

8
(WeTransfer’s total workforce is 200 people)

Working Hours

Flexible

Links

WeTransfer Website
WePresent Website
WeTransfer Instagram
WePresent Instagram
Twitter
LinkedIn

Overview

How would you describe what WePresent does?
WePresent is the editorial platform of WeTransfer, and we tell stories of creativity from all over the world. Whether it’s a photographer from South Africa documenting what home means to them, a musician discussing subculture in Taiwan, or an artist making work in Greece based on ancient techniques.

We’re interested in what makes artists tick, and how creativity manifests itself in all of our lives – no matter who you are or where you come from. Representation is at our core, and to date, WePresent has worked with over 1,000 artists from more than 100 countries. But we don’t just seek out fascinating artists to profile, we also collaborate with them to make their ideas come to life.

Wepresent creative lives in the studio with 09

A selection of articles on the WePresent website: Featuring Marina Abramović

Wepresent creative lives in the studio with 083

A manifesto by Yuri Suzuki

Wepresent creative lives in the studio with 088

A feature on rapper Tkay Maidza

Wepresent creative lives in the studio with 082

A feature on photographer Tim Franco

Wepresent creative lives in the studio with 087

A feature on artist Nils Völker

Each year we commission original work across photography, film, music, art and literature, working closely with artists to ensure that we authentically represent their vision and use our platform to amplify their voices.

So far, we have worked with creatives like Riz Ahmed, FKA twigs, Solange Knowles, Bernardine Evaristo, Michel Gondry and Rennell Medrano. These projects have resulted in award-winning short films, music videos, short stories and even an exhibition.

A still from WePresent’s collaborative film with Solange, ‘When I Get Home’
A collaboration with Michel Gondry, Olivier Gondry and IDLES
A still from a collaboration with FKA Twigs

How did WePresent come about?
WePresent started life as a number of curated artist wallpapers (you know, those beautiful backgrounds you see when you use WeTransfer), managed by a team of two. This was way back in the early days of the company, but these wallpapers attracted a huge amount of attention, demonstrating that there was an appetite for creative work and artist stories.

That led to the start of a company blog called This Works in 2016, which profiled artists from around the world, and began to commission original pieces. Then in 2018, WePresent was born and, as the team grew, so did the amount of stories we told and the number of artists we worked with.

Today we are a team of eight, producing between three and four original stories a week and working with some of the most exciting creatives in the world. We’ve come a long way, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

“Simply put, we believe more voices equals better ideas, and we’re striving to showcase as many of them as we can.”

Inside the WeTransfer office in Amsterdam (pre-lockdown)

Does the team have a mantra or philosophy?
We want to be the most representative creative platform on the planet. This means that we are constantly searching for emerging artists and voices from around the world and pushing ourselves as a team to step out of our own bubbles when curating.

We also work with a huge number of freelancers – from writers to illustrators to photographers – to bring our stories to life. Simply put, we believe more voices equals better ideas, and we’re striving to showcase as many of them as we can.

The Work

In terms of projects and content, what have been the highlights from the past year?
There’s been a lot! In 2020 we collaborated with photographer Renell Medrano on a feature that saw her travel back to the Dominican Republic (where her parents are from) to create a photography series documenting her homecoming.

It turned into a stunning body of work called PAMPARA, which explored how the culture of the Dominican Republic had informed not only Renell’s photography, but who she is as a person. We then exhibited the work with Renell in London – her first ever exhibition in Europe.

A month after that, we released a short film that we had collaborated on with Riz Ahmed called The Long Goodbye. The film is one of the most powerful pieces we have ever had the privilege to be a part of. Directed by Aneil Karia, the film depicts Riz’s feelings of breaking up with his country. It’s a hugely important watch, and we’ve been delighted to see it go on to win a number of awards this year too.

An image from PAMPARA, a collaboration with Renell Medrano
A still from The Long Goodbye, a film collaboration with Riz Ahmed

In 2020 we also launched our literature series called Literally, led by our story editor Liv Siddall. It’s a beautifully designed series of short stories that is slowly turning into our own WePresent library. It was launched with an original story by Bernardine Evaristo and since then we’ve worked with Raven Smith, Jarvis Cocker and Oyinkan Braithwaite among others.

Finally, the last year has seen us work with a number of hugely inspiring art institutions too. Led by our senior commissioning editor Suzanne Tromp, we partnered with both the Royal Academy of Arts and the Serpentine. Our partnership with the Royal Academy saw us showcase the entire Summer Exhibition digitally on WeTransfer wallpapers for the first time ever, while our ongoing collaboration with the Serpentine is focused on how art can positively impact the climate crisis.

If we’re on the WePresent Instagram, what’s one thing we shouldn’t miss?
Every Friday we commission an illustrator to create an original work just for Instagram: Have a look here.

“For WePresent, the story is key... We look at originality, who is telling the story, and what the likely impact of it could be.”

WePresent’s Literally series

How do you choose who to feature or collaborate with?
For WePresent, the story is the key, so any feature or collaboration we work on has to have a compelling narrative that we feel will be of interest to our readers and will start a conversation.

We look at originality, who is telling the story, what the focus is and what the likely impact of it could be. We also have monthly curation meetings, where team members have to bring emerging artists into our meeting and discuss why they feel they are important.

Team and Culture

How would you describe the working environment and culture at WeTransfer?
The main WeTransfer office is based is in Amsterdam. It’s a buzzing, vibrant space with plenty of breakaway areas for brainstorming, a recording studio and loads of books and art on the walls.

Right now we’re all working remotely, so we have daily catch-up meetings online to discuss upcoming projects. And even though we were used to video calls already, we do miss the social aspect of being together.

At WeTransfer there is a shared belief in the power of creativity and the huge impact it can have on the world. We encourage each other to push our ideas forward and think big. Plus, as a B-Corp, the entire company shares a commitment to responsibility and sustainability, encouraging debate around how we can continually improve as an organisation.

Inside the WeTransfer office in Amsterdam (pre-lockdown)
Inside the WeTransfer office in Amsterdam (pre-lockdown)

If someone is applying to work with you, what makes them an appealing candidate?
We look for enthusiasm – it’s vital for our team members to love what they do and be passionate about bringing stories to life. If you can tell us what it is you like about WePresent, and how you can help drive our mission forward, then that’s a big plus.

Outside of that, we look at experience, team fit and applicants that bring fresh perspectives to WePresent. We also love people getting in touch; you can always send ideas to us on [email protected], but it’s best to ensure you have a clear subject line and concise pitch, as we do receive a lot.

The best way to approach us is to be specific and include links to your work, or include a mood-board for the project you’re pitching. Outside of that, you can slide into our DMs on Instagram – we check them all!

“It’s vital for our team members to love what they do and be passionate about bringing stories to life.”

Inside the WeTransfer office in Amsterdam (pre-lockdown)
Inside the WeTransfer office in Amsterdam (pre-lockdown)
Inside the WeTransfer office in Amsterdam (pre-lockdown)

What kinds of projects do you work with freelancers for?
We work with freelancers constantly – writers, photographers, illustrators and artists are integral to the stories we publish. Beyond features, we tend to work with freelancers on specific projects and big commissions. This can include freelance help, from production to event coordination.

When the team is in need of a bit of fun or inspiration, what do you do?
It has obviously been harder during the pandemic, but whenever possible we get together as a team to celebrate successful project launches. That can involve going to exhibitions, screenings or talks, and always dinner and a few drinks afterwards.

Our head of music, Tiff Yu, is based in Los Angeles, so we also try to do one team trip a year, where Tiff comes to Europe or the rest of the team heads Stateside.

When you think about WePresent in 10 years’ time, what comes to mind?
In 10 years’ time we will have featured artists from every single country in the world and will still be pushing the boundaries of creative storytelling. We see endless possibilities – creative conferences, exhibitions, books, a global network. We’ve got big plans, watch this space.

Meet some of the team

Below we get to know some more of the brilliant team members working behind-the-scenes at WePresent.

Phil van der Krogt, senior creative producer

How would you describe your role at WePresent?
I’m one of two producers on the WePresent team. My focus is primarily on music and branded content projects, but I’m also responsible for our website, tracking how stories perform, and working closely with our editorial team, designers and creative engineers to find unique ways to bring our stories to life.

Did you complete a degree, and has this been helpful to your work?
Two, and both were a far cry from the work I’m doing today! While I wouldn’t change a thing, so much of what I do now is learnt by doing. As a producer, you need to be able to focus on the detail without losing sight of the big picture, get yourself and your team organised, troubleshoot on the spot, and make tough decisions. The best way to hone all that is to just get stuck in.

What do you recommend as a source of inspiration?
If there is one person who can wash away all of last year’s woe, it’s Sohla El-Waylly. I haven’t always been a sucker for YouTube cooking shows, but Sohla strikes a cheerful, hopeful and soothing balance between ridiculously silly and ridiculously talented. Good clean fun, the perfect antidote.

Tiffany Yu, head of music

How would you describe your role at WePresent?
I look for interesting music stories from artists around the world. I read pitches, listen to a lot of music and keep up with industry news, to stay aware of what artists are producing. Artists have a unique talent in leveraging emotion, and I look for that in what they create.

Did you have a formal education, and has it been helpful to your work?
Yes, I graduated college with a degree and it’s sort of been helpful. College is really there to broaden your mind and make you think more independently. My role and past roles don’t need formal training but plenty of experience and perseverance.

What advice would you give an emerging creative wanting to do the same kind of work?
Don’t wait for the perfect time or moment. It doesn’t exist. Jump on a train that you think goes towards what you want; it might not be exactly what you imagined but it might also be better.

What do you recommend as a source of inspiration?
The Pudding. They have the best infographics. It’s all visual and sometimes explains complicated topics.

Suzanne Tromp, senior commissioning editor

How would you describe your role at WePresent?
I oversee all visuals on WePresent – from developing the visual strategy for every article on the site, to commissioning creatives for stories and WeTransfer at large. I also head up the art and illustration commissions, bringing to life projects with artists like Polly Nor and Edel Rodriguez, and institutions like the Royal Academy of Arts and Serpentine.

How did you land the job?
I started as an intern at WeTransfer. I had heard they were looking for someone and I emailed in. Back then we were only a company of 17 people, so the process was a chat with the founders and my manager – and that was it. Over the years, my job evolved from editorial manager, to deputy editor, to editor, and now I’m the commissioning editor.

My advice would be: stick around and be patient when you are in a company you like, and be prepared to grow with it. I did this and it allowed me to be a part of WePresent from the very beginning.

What do you recommend as a source of inspiration?
I’ve been following this Instagram account called another___kind for ages and I’m obsessed with it. The curator James shares a bunch of random visuals, and they’re just things you won’t find anywhere else. It’s exactly the kind of crazy I love and need to get inspired, as it helps me make new connections in my brain to come up with different ideas.



WePresent is a Creative Lives in Progress brand partner. Every year, we partner with like-minded brands and agencies to support our initiative and keep Creative Lives a free resource for emerging creatives. To find out more about how you can work with us, email
[email protected]

Written by Creative Lives in Progress
Mention WePresent