The Antwerp Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

To mark the release of our Warriors edition, we've teamed up with This is Antwerp to bring you 100 Antwerp Warriors, a 100-strong selection of local movers and shakers setting the tone for the neighbourhood of tomorrow. From design and architecture to contemporary art and politics, these are the creatives shaping the narrative of the future.

Stephanie Specht

Stephanie Specht

Graphic designer

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 am a freelance graphic and illustrative designer living and working in the centre of Antwerp. The only routine I have is drinking loads of coffee in the morning. The rest of my day is never set, it all depends on the project I’m working on. I work alone, so the only people I ‘work’ with are clients, and these are lately almost all creatives, from different fields like architects, artists, fashion designers or photographers. That’s why I love my job. My clients often inspire me with their work. I guess I feel the closest to the music and architecture scene, I draw a lot of inspiration from both of these.

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?

I perceive Antwerp as a city that is slowly waking up. I’ve lived in many different places – I moved back to Antwerp in 2013 – and ever since, I’ve met  a lot of like-minded people. People who are either returning Antwerpians or strangers trying to discover the city. Those people help me experience my city in a different way. It’s a very creative one, and lately there are more and more people taking the plunge to become self-employed, taking initiatives to pursue their dreams – which I love. I love that kind of mentality, people who take risks, who are ambitious. For a long time I felt as though this was not really happening here but now I feel like it is.

What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?

It’s a pocket size city, easy to discover, with enough different creative scenes to get inspired by without having too much distraction. I think it’s a good place to focus on work. It’s very convenient to live here too.

How would you say has Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a good place to focus on work. There’s not too much distraction, but enough to not be bored. I feel calm and focused here. And just because of its small scale it’s easy to get to know a lot of people in a short time. So network-wise it’s also a good place.

Lately there are more and more people taking the plunge to become self-employed, taking initiatives to pursue their dreams

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?

Initiatives like Born in Antwerp or Het Bos for example. I love the variety they offer: music, movies, dinners.

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?

I love to just drink a coffee somewhere with friends and catch up or visit a bookshop like Copyright or go visit a gallery. I never shop during the weekends, I think the large crowds are horrible. There’s one place which I absolutely recommend to anyone here visiting and that’s Middelheim open air Museum, especially the Braem Pavilion. It’s an amazing building.

A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?

Both Raf Simons and Willy Vanderperre are legends to me. Raf Simons is, and will always be, seen as a cult legend; a symbol of intellectual prestige intertwined with Antwerp’s avant-garde movement. Vanderperre is a legendary photographer and filmmaker occupying a highly influential role in the fashion industry.

stephaniespecht.com
Photography Thomas Ost