5 minutes with... in association withAdobe Firefly
5 Minutes with… Laszlito Kovacs
London, UK
VP of creative at WeTransfer on the creative soul of the company, his non-stop drawing and how one particular Disney scene shaped his inclinations
If you’re reading LBB, you’ve almost certainly used WeTransfer to send or receive files as part of your creative life. Headquartered in Amsterdam, the tech company founded in 2009 to help people send large digital files around the world, has grown to become a creative powerhouse to match many of its users. 

WePresent, the company’s in-house editorial platform, exists to inspire the community WeTransfer serves. It publishes profiles of the coolest artists on the planet, featuring their existing work as well as newly commissioned projects. The team there has recently collaborated with the likes of FKA twigs, Björk and Parra. Its homepage is a showcase for creators of all disciplines and if you want to advertise on the platform you’d better be ready to meet their exacting creative and ethical standards. Each month the company gives away ad space to under-represented artists in support of the creative community.

Laszlito Kovacs is the VP of creative there. In this role he oversees WeTransfer’s entire creative direction, ensuring an alignment of creative values across every aspect of the WeTransfer brand. 

His background ranges across broad fields, from illustration to design and creative direction more generally. Before joining WeTransfer in 2016 he’d worked at a range of creative design agencies and startups.

LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with him to find out more.

LBB> Where did you grow up in Spain? What was your childhood like there?

Laszlito> I'm originally from Barcelona, Catalunya. I grew up next to the beach, devouring comics and paella. Sesame Street was my favourite thing, second only to going with my uncles to the movies. I vividly remember going with them and see the The Empire Strikes Back, Jaws, Superman, Indiana Jones, E.T. and re-runs of Dumbo, there is a scene in that movie called Pink Drunk Elephants that I think somehow defined my creative inclinations.

LBB> What were you like as a child? What sort of things did you use to draw?

Laszlito> My favourite thing in the world was to draw hammerhead sharks, obsessively. Why? I don't have a clue. 

LBB> If you're Spanish, why did you take on a Hungarian-sounding pseudonym?

Laszlito> I've always loved movies. When I was about 18 I watched Godard's ‘À bout de souffle’. In it Jean-Paul Belmondo is nicknamed ‘Laszlo Kovacs’. I immediately fell in love with the sound of it; it sounded exciting and exotic so I started signing my illustrations with that name. Funnily enough many years later some Hungarian friends told me that Laszlo Kovacs is one of the most common names in the country! It’s like calling yourself John Smith in the US or Pepe García in Spain. 

LBB> How did you get your first jobs in illustration?

Laszlito> I always have been illustrating and trying out different styles, however, I would say my very first professional gig was with a Japanese stationary boutique called Winged Wheels. My collaborations with them somehow got noticed and right after that I started illustrating for Monocle magazine. 

LBB> How did you make the shift from being an illustrator to creative director at WeTransfer?

Laszlito> Well although illustration is essential for me, I started my career very early as a designer when I was 18 when I opened a design studio with a couple of friends. I've always combined illustration and design, creative direction how I see it, there is no such thing as a shift, call me crazy!

LBB> So, devil’s advocate… Why does WeTransfer need a creative director?

Laszlito> WeTransfer is all about creativity, we now have a full set of tools that help millions of creatives around the world move ideas on a daily basis. We regularly collaborate with designers like Paula Scher to artists like FKA twigs, Bjork or Parra to name a few. From a curation perspective, and a lead on our visual identity and advertising, I would say WeTransfer definitely finds its use for a creative director... 

LBB> When and how did WeTransfer advance from being a file-sharing platform to a more all-encompassing creative force?

Laszlito> I would say since day one almost ten years ago WeTransfer's ambition has been of transcending being a file sharing service. We have creativity at our core and have always donated 30% of our advertising impressions to creative projects or causes that push the boundaries of creativity in exciting new ways.

Last year WeTransfer doubled down on its commitment with the creative community through the acquisition of sketching app Paper and presentation tool Paste, in addition to launching our own app, Collect by WeTransfer. 

LBB> What was the rationale behind WePresent and how did it develop?

Laszlito> WePresent was born because we felt we could go further in our commitment to the arts and creative endeavours, so we set up WePresent to tell unexpected stories of creativity. The editorial team has been doing an incredible job at showcasing stories that are representative of the exciting diversity (in terms of geography, age and gender) that the creative industry has to offer.

LBB> What creative collaborations are you most proud of and why?

Laszlito> I know that this will sound corny, but I'm most proud of the creative collaborations we have in-house, between the editorial and marketing team and with the many talented designers and coders that are part of our product teams and our in-house studio. I'm sorry to disappoint, but, for me there is nothing else like it. 

LBB> What do you like to do in your spare time. Do you still draw a lot?

Laszlito> Non-stop. Drawing is not only therapy for me but a tool that helps me share ideas across effortlessly. The best thing about drawing is that there is no end to learning; every day you learn something new. It’s like learning an alien language, that somehow helps describe your inner world with precision.

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