Wondereur | An Interview With Co-Founders Olivier Berger and Sophie Perceval

By Cory Angeletti-Szasz ● November 30, 2015 10:00

Artist featured: Mideo Cruz. Curator: Dayang Yraola, a driving force of the South Asian art scene. Photojournalist for Wondereur: Xyza Bacani Cruz. Gapan City, Philippines.

If you’re an art lover with a keen interest in contemporary art and enjoy exploring and discovering new art and artists, then you’ll definitely want to familiarize yourself with Wondereur, an award-winning cultural platform that documents the creative process of the most inspiring artists worldwide through an immersive approach to art journalism. Leading art figures from Jean Max Colard to Ed Burtynsky reveal their top artist picks exclusively for Wondereur, and give users, before anyone else, access to the artist world and artworks to collect.

An IDEABOOST Portfolio Company (2013), Wondereur is the winner of the 2015 Applied Arts Interactive Awards, a double Nominee of the 18th Webby Awards for Best Art Platform and Best Use of Photography (NYC 2014), an Official Honoree of the 17th Webby Awards (NYC 2013), and a finalist of the 2013 Digital Magazine Awards (London, UK). Moreover, they recently launched a long-form article series with The Globe and Mail entitled “Why we love the art we love.”

We recently caught up with Olivier Berger and Sophie Perceval, co-founders of Wondereur, and got some insights into the groundbreaking art platform. Read the full interview below.

CFC Media Lab: What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

Olivier Berger and Sophie Perceval: The desire to build something meaningful that could have a big impact.

How did you come up with the idea for Wondereur?

To start, we both share a deep passion for contemporary art. When you think of it, artists open new ways of seeing and understanding the world. They are true pillars of a diverse and vibrant democratic society. A few years ago, when we saw that the art world was moving online, we quickly realized that the essence of contemporary art was getting lost in the process: art was becoming a commodity, a shallow experience made of infinite scrolling. We thought there had to be a more meaningful and powerful way to bring art into the digital realm and we started Wondereur.

What prompted you to apply to CFC Media Lab’s IDEABOOST accelerator program?

Digital storytelling plays a major role in the platform we created. It’s a resource for specialists and non-specialists, based on high-quality curation and authentic, intimate and thought-provoking storytelling. Choosing documentary storytelling over party blogging is what set us apart from others right from the get go and we totally owe it to Canadian documentary culture. Documentary filmmakers have a respect for human stories that allows them to go beyond the surface. It was super important for us to work with the Canadian Film Center’s Media Lab to help bring this quintessentially Canadian expertise into the world of art online. It’s our secret weapon against cynicism and speculation.

What is the one thing you want audiences to know about your product?

You’re in for a treat! We’ve done all the legwork so that users can relax and enjoy a meaningful and worry-free art discovery process. We work with the best art experts – collectors sitting on acquisition committees for the Tate Modern, curators from Centre Pompidou, and visionaries like Bruce Mau or Ed Burtynsky. We make their knowledge magically accessible to you as they share their exclusive take on which artists they believe are going to make it big. Every two weeks, you get a free tip on which artists are worth investing in now, so you can focus on what matters: buying art that resonates with who you are and enriches your life while supporting diversity.

What’s the biggest challenge you currently face or have faced in terms of development?

Quality is key to who we are, which means we cannot rush our development. We had to resist the pressure to show more artists, quicker. A lot of competitors have gone down that route and lowered the quality of their artists roster in order to get a larger inventory faster. People come to us to discover carefully selected artists and that’s the reason why we are showing fewer than 100 artists. Our play is 100 per cent quality versus volume and it means it must scale at a different pace.

What's the most important thing you've learned since starting your company?

The art market is moving online faster than expected and this transition is mostly led by art buyers. Real art lovers are leading this revolution of the art market, whereas gatekeepers are trying to protect their power by resisting change. It’s a fascinating process to be part of.

Can you tell us more about your partnership with The Globe and Mail?

With the Globe and Mail, we launched a long-form article series called “Why we love the art we love” in February 2015. We reach out to personalities like Ed Burtynsky, Joseph Boyden or Susur Lee and ask them to share with us the work of a Canadian artist that deeply touches them. The series is structured as a co-production, meaning each partner keeps complete editorial control on its content. The series has been widely successful in terms of reaching out to a national audience. It’s a full page in print in the weekend edition every month, reaching millions of Canadians. We’re super happy with the outcome of the series and are now developing other concepts to take the conversation a step further and really connect art with what matters to Canadians.

What other projects do you have on the horizon?

We’ve bulked up our research and development (R&D) team with people coming from very different backgrounds. Our objective is to become the “Tesla of art” and drive the future of the art market. We’re spending a lot of time rethinking what the experience of seeing artwork should be, how to dive into the artist’s mind and expand our perception of the world. Right now, we’re busy preparing the launch of a series of augmented reality experiences that we think will disrupt our relationship to art. That’s what keeps us up at night!

There’s a world of exceptional art waiting to be explored on Wondereur – feed your creative soul by becoming a member and get instant access to tips from key art experts and visionaries, and stay tuned for more developments from Wondereur!

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Cory Angeletti-Szasz

Director, Marketing & Communications