Can you describe what you do?
I’m a freelance illustrator, designer and print developer. In a nutshell, I’d describe my work as distilled illustrations and forms, stripped of all the unnecessary details. I reduce objects to their fundamental elements: colour and composition. Abstracting daily reality.
Where you are based?
I moved to the neighbourhood of Borgerhout three years ago, to one of the busiest and most multicultural streets around. My apartment is on the fourth floor, so I’m literally above the hustle and bustle of the streets. It’s a light and spacious place where I implemented composition and colour the same way I would in my work. Being a freelance, I spend a lot of time in my home. I used to head to coffeebars to work, but since we moved to this appartement, I’ve managed to set up a nice studio where work happens more efficiently. When I have meetings, I do try to schedule them somewhere in the centre. Most of my clients are based in Antwerp, and I’m lucky to be able to cycle to nearly every appointment.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it?
I’ve been living in Antwerp for more than ten years now, and I have to admit to having a love-hate relationship with the city. I often feel the need to spend time in busier, bigger and, most importantly, more international cities. But simultaneously, I do enjoy life in Antwerp. I like how it’s a walkable city, and I feel like Antwerp had a boost in entrepreneurship as of late, with more and more things happening. There’s also an interesting art scene, with lots of good galleries so although it’s not an enormous city, it can still be very inspiring one.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives?
I think one of the biggest benefits is that Antwerp is still really affordable when you compare it to other cities. You can easily find nice places to live or work, in whatever neighbourhood you want. There’s no need to go and live in the suburbs to find a spacious place. Another big plus is the mix of different disciplines in which Antwerp excels.
What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?
I studied in Antwerp, and had the pleasure to be taught by some excellent, Antwerp-based teachers. It’s also the city where I met Anne Kurris, Veerle Wenes and Mattia Vanseveren who I worked with and who gave me a chance to do what I love.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
I would love to see more of a mix between the different cultures because now it’s more like ‘living apart together’. I would also love to see more good restaurants, bars and small shops (like a good bookstore) in our neighbourhood and especially on our street. I think Borgerhout lacks these, because entrepreneurs in Antwerp prefer to play it safe. They’d rather open another coffee bar in an already popular or gentrified neighbourhood, rather than take a leap and do something new in a less obvious area. It would also be great if the city council would do more for cyclists.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
That’s a difficult question, as there are a lot of different neighbourhoods and places I would like to show. I would opt for a walk from one part of the city to another, and stroll along different places to eat, museums, shops and green treasures like the Botanical garden.ingerylant.be Photography Miles Fischler