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Event Production, Consulting,
& Photography

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Hello there. I’m Erik Westra. I plan, produce, and manage events around the world. 

I am the former director of media and events at Brain Traffic, where I produced Confab Events, an international series of conferences for content strategists. I’m also the cofounder of Contents, an online magazine for people who care about the contents and policies of the internet. From 2000 to 2007, I was the head of promotion and publicity at two legendary concert venues: The Empty Bottle and First Avenue

You can contact me by phone at (773) 243-9791 or via email at [email protected]. You can also find me on Twitter @erikwestra.

I’ve been planning sold-out events for more than ten years. These are a few of them.

 

I directed Confab Events with Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic. Our inaugural event in 2011 sold out three months in advance, and the series has grown steadily since then. I produced nine different conferences, including one each in London and Barcelona, and developed niche events for people working in higher ed, nonprofits, and government.

 

The Knight-Mozilla OpenNews team brought me in to help plan the first-ever SRCCON, a conference for developers, interactive designers, and other people who love to code in and near newsrooms. I helped develop the SRCCON code of conduct, which was very important to the success of our event for all the reasons wonderfully detailed by Erin Kissane.

 

I was part of the three-person team that launched Empty Bottle Presents, the offsite events arm of Chicago’s heralded music venue, The Empty Bottle. We put on everything from pop-up shows and art openings (including this Tragic Beauty show, still my favorite ten years later), to touring art installations and large concerts that simply wouldn’t fit in the Bottle-proper.

Have a great idea for an event? Here’s how I can help.

I create events that are meaningful, memorable, and seamless for your attendees, speakers, and sponsors. I believe in equality, open access, quality over quantity, and building safe and respectful spaces. My goal is always to create inclusive events and make everyone feel welcome.

PLANNING AND STRATEGY

  • Goals and budget
  • Accessibility, inclusivity, and diversity
  • Safety and conduct policies
  • Venue sourcing 
  • Vendor sourcing (A/V, internet, catering)
  • Contract negotiation
  • Speaker selection and outreach

MANAGEMENT AND PRODUCTION

  • Onsite logistics
  • Venue and vendor oversight
  • Programming and scheduling
  • Marketing
  • Partnerships and sponsorships
  • Staff and volunteer management

I'm also an experienced event photographer.

I'm available for standalone photography gigs (conferences, concerts, headshots, etc.) or we can include it as part of your overall event project. Here are a few examples of my work. 

Jenny Toomey and Simeon Oriko, Mozfest 2015, London

Jenny Toomey and Simeon Oriko, Mozfest 2015, London

Erik is a fantastic event organizer. As a sponsor, I felt like he anticipated all of our needs and delivered way more value for us than was necessary. The guy is a pro.
— Mark DiCristina, head of marketing at MailChimp

Erin Kissane, director of content at Knight-Mozilla OpenNews

“Erik has event logistics down cold and can keep the attendant chaos at bay, but he also offers something much rarer—a commitment to running inclusive, humane, supportive events where people can come and be comfortable and just focus on learning and having fun. That commitment informs the million small decisions that go into planning an event, and having an event specialist on our team who genuinely cared about those aspects of conference hosting helped make our inaugural SRCCON a huge success.”

Kate Kiefer Lee, author and speaker:

I love working with Erik and speaking at his events. Public speaking can be stressful, but Erik and his team go out of their way to support speakers and make them feel comfortable. His events always seem to go off without a hitch. Erik really knows his audience.

Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic:

“People constantly tell us Confab is ‘the best conference they’ve ever attended,’ and it’s in large part due to the work and vision of Erik Westra. His commitment to excellence in every area of event production is just unparalleled. From speaker communication to hotel negotiation, from budget planning to money management, Erik’s attention to detail has been the bedrock of our success.”

Margot Bloomstein, author and speaker:

“In every way conferences support speakers and attendees, Erik deftly manages both the details and big picture to ensure everyone has an excellent experience. It’s no secret among conference speakers and participants: the events Erik organizes will spoil you for all other opportunities.”

Austin Kleon, author and speaker:

“I’ve given a lot of talks over the years, and Erik is one of my absolute favorite people to do business with. The level of his preparation, the clarity of his communication, the quality of his events, and the delightfulness of his demeanor all make my job easy and fun. Add to that his exquisite taste in music (as evidenced by his legendary conference mixes), and I not only give him a wholehearted endorsement as an event planner, I also highly recommend him as a wingman while sifting through record-store vinyl bins!”

Sarah Cancilla, content strategist at Facebook and speaker:

“Erik is the best of the best when it comes to conceptualizing, planning, and executing memorable events. I’m always confident that every detail is being addressed with imagination and tremendous care. I’d jump at any chance to work with him.”


Here are A FEW MORE current and past clients:

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