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Site Spotlight: We Occupy

finding out more about inspiring gallery cum shop cum blog format...

Site Spotlight: We Occupy
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Working outside the traditional gallery format means that We Occupy remains flexible as a concept, this inherent freedom has allowed me to approach each brief individually and create continually fresh, challenging and ambitious projects for a global audience...

Mario Hugo

Running under one name or another (We Occupy is the artist formerly known as Occupy, formerly known as WIWP) for almost a decade, We Occupy – in web terms, at least – is an old hand in online creativity. Darren Firth is the man behind the monitor and, along with juggling his position at illustrious design agency Six and doing his own freelance thing under the moniker Sane, has transformed his site into one of the internet’s hottest properties for the art-conscious consumer; whether you’re looking to improve the state of your walls by exchanging dollar for the physical, or merely stalking a myriad of retina-bothering inspiration – Firth has got it covered.

Ultra-limited prints and originals, from the likes of Mario Hugo, HelloVon and Mr Bingo, are available in Firth’s personally curated online art store – whilst, over on his Seen & Heard blog section, luminaries such as the aforementioned HelloVon and Dr ME assist the founder in carefully selecting some of the planet’s most fascinating artists to profile.

We caught up with Darren for a chat about all things We Occupy, and to find out more about the freedom this unique format affords him, how we manages his workload, and what’s next…

Site Spotlight: We Occupy

Wot God Forgot (Physic),

Site Spotlight: We Occupy

Modern Rural,
David Bray

I remember your original site WIWP, before the change to Occupy. Can you tell those who are new to your sites a little about the history – and why you changed the name?

Occupy was founded in 2003 under the name Wearitwithpride (WIWP). What started out as a humble badge design site, has now evolved into a global platform, actively pushing artist collaboration through various publications, printed matter, original art and exhibitions. When the focus shifted away from pin badges, the name Wearitwithpride no longer had any relevance – so it was changed accordingly with the refresh of the website. Unfortunately for me, several years later this name was adopted by an international protest movement demonstrating against social and economic inequality. For that reason I now use the handle We Occupy.

Working outside the traditional gallery format means that We Occupy remains flexible as a concept, not confined to a dedicated gallery space or a favored roster of artists. This inherent freedom has allowed me to approach each brief individually and create continually fresh, challenging and ambitious projects for a global audience.

How do the relationships begin with the artists whose works you sell? Do you approach them/they approach you etc.

We Occupy is a side project of mine, so I have never relied on it as a main source of income. I feel this has been the single most important factor in running the project, since it has allowed me to work with artists whose work I genuinely love, rather than approaching people purely on the basis that they will sell a lot of prints/originals. Occupy is a platform for presenting cutting edge work, to some degree sales are a bi-product of that. We Occupy still remains a BIO project for the foreseeable future.

Site Spotlight: We Occupy


Site Spotlight: We Occupy

Greg Eason

The blog section – Seen & Heard – is largely curated by yourself, with contributions from the likes of Dr ME – can you tell us a little about this relationship?

A blog can be a very personal thing and it’s easy to get attached to your own tastes. Although I definitely found it hard letting go at first, having multiple authors with completely different tastes has become integral to the increasing success of the blog (I realise that now). Whether I like what other people post is irrelevant, it’s all about presenting variety and serving the audience.

We currently have 6 additional authors – Dr ME, HelloVon, Melvin Galapon, Greg Eason, Nick Cannons and Emily Forgot; some post more than others, but there is no pressure to post anything.

What advice would you give to someone starting out a blog or online store?

A blog can take up an inordinate amount of time, despite how easy it may look on the outside. It’s a draining passtime, and dare I say that it can become ‘an inconvenience’ at times. Think about what you want to achieve from your blog and weigh up the ‘time spent’ versus ‘benefits’. Will people give a crap about what you are saying? And more importantly, do you give a crap whether they do or not?

Setting up a blog soley to provoke an emotional response will probably cause big disappointment. The internet is awash with blogs covering all kinds of subjects, so what will make yours different, or if not different, how will yours be better than those covering the same topics.

Site Spotlight: We Occupy

Arn Gyssels

Site Spotlight: We Occupy

The King and Pie,
Mario Hugo

How do you manage the day job/Occupy balance?

With great difficulty! We Occupy currently runs at around 25% of its full potential, which is a real shame.

What’s your favourite part about running Occupy?

I’ve had the great privilege of meeting and working with some extremely talented and inspirational people. For that I am a truley thankful!

Your favourite websites…

In no particular order: Booooooom, Synaptic Stimuli, But Does it Float?, The New Graphic, FormFiftyFive, Arrested Motion, Hi-Fructose… oh, and yours obviously!

Ha yeah, obviously… do you find that you’ve built a loyal fan-base/readership?

To be honest, I don’t really monitor my stats, so I couldn’t tell you with any accuracy. I hope so; I would rather have a smaller, loyal fan base than a larger, sporadic one.

What’s next for Darren Firth?

From a We Occupy stance, my ongoing focus is to continually commission and collaborate with some of the the world’s leading creatives; hand picking both recognised and emerging talent to create exhibitions and products that transcend a definitive style or genre… so who knows? I have a million and one ideas, with very little time to implement them. Hopefully at least one will see the light of day in 2013.

Aside from that I’ll continue my duties as Design Director at Six, whilst juggling freelance work under the name Sane. No rest for the wicked.

Site Spotlight: We Occupy


Site Spotlight: We Occupy

Mario Hugo