Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.
I’m Charlie magazine’s chief editor. Our office is located in Antwerpen’s Noord, just next to the MAS museum. We share a co-working space with LDV United advertising agency, which means we’re surrounded with young and creative people on a daily basis. I live in a completely different part of down, way down south in Wilrijk. It’s a pretty cosy area, close to a few pretty big parks, which makes cycling to work quite enjoyable. As far as I’m concerned, I have the best of both worlds: accessibility to the city centre, and green surroundings at the same time. Our backyard touches de “green roof” of the Craeybeckxtunnel. where no houses can be built. The view from our house is amazing. In fact, if Antwerp would cover up the Ring and make it Ringland, more people will be able to enjoy the same view.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?
It’s small and easy to get around by bicycle. One word of advice: never take your car into the centre. It’s horrible. Antwerp has a rather social vibe. You can feel that people want to hook up and meet. Park Spoor Noord for example is designed to bring people together: families, young people, people who like to exercise… And I really love the river as well. I don’t think I could live in a city that has no river or water nearby.
One word of advice: never take your car into the centre. It’s horrible.
What would you say gives the city its edge?
The city breathes freedom, and fresh initiatives like Bar Paniek and Bar Left pop up like mushrooms. I once read that Antwerp’s creative sector for 17% of the city’s revenue. That’s a lot! We should cherish our talented people, cause they made Antwerp into the city it is today. In Antwerp you often see global trends popping up, but always with a European touch to it. Creative people customize them with their own heritage and culture and make it their own.
How would you say Antwerp has contributed to making you who you are today?
I’ve met people from all over the world here. Most of my co-workers, for example, have different roots, Irish, African, Mexican,… I also like the Dutch influence we have here. I feel like the Dutch exiles are more open and spontaneous. Creative people have always surrounded me, because I studied graphic design and illustration at Sint-Lucas. Going out for us often meant going to exhibitions and openings. Creativity always comes first for me. How to make money is a secondary question.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
More green, more bike lanes, more parks and playgrounds. For parents (I have 2 boys) there aren’t a lot of places where you can go with kids. Park Spoor Noord has a very nice terrace and playground but usually it’s very crowded, just because there are so few of these places in town.
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? A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?
I would take them to Middelheim park for a walk around the statues and installations followed by a drink at Bar Mika, a wooden chalet. Maybe later we’d head to Linkeroever. There’s just something about the area, it feels like the setting for a scary movie. It’s like looking in Antwerp’s skewed mirror.charliemag.be Interview Eva Janssens Photography Thomas Ost