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.

Younes Benfquih

Younes Benfquih

Tattoo artist

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 a tattoo artist with a shop in the city centre, close to the cathedral. I’m a lucky guy because not only do I get to work with some really close friends, I absolutely love the profession of making art come to life on people’s skin. We are all designers in our hearts and our clients love the work we do almost as much as we do ourselves. We all grew up together, there’s a very amicable vibe. We used to be the little skaters from the hood and, while we might look more grown up, in a way we still are little thugs cruising on the skate ramps in the citypark.

How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it?

This city is a mix of lots of different cultures and ethnicities. There’s a lot of creative genes flowing through the city. It feels like anything is possible. I was able to pursue my dreams and I’m so grateful for that. I’m pretty sure many others in this city can say the same for them. And even though I love our city, I’m a true traveler. I’ve been all over the world and love to take a long break every year to explore unknown territories and especially gather some new insights about life which, as a bonus, gives me some extra inspiration for my designs.

The diversity brings about a good atmosphere, which is above all a perfect starting point for people to pursue their dreams.

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

Like I mentioned earlier, the diversity brings about a good atmosphere, which is above all a perfect starting point for people to pursue their dreams. And there’s of course the solid base of people ready to invest in talents, like the designer schools.

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?

Antwerp is, thanks to its low rents, an easy city for young people to live in, and allows them to take the time to explore and practice their skills and talents. I wouldn’t have been able to start my own studio at such a young age somewhere else in the world simply because of the financial aspect of it. People here rely on each other and when you have happy clients, others will follow soon. It can go quite fast.

Available as tattoo #branoshandtattoo #bold #classic #tradional

A photo posted by Younes Tattooer (@younes_tattooer) on

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

More initiatives helping young people to grow into creative professionals would be much welcomed. It’d also be nice if Antwerp’s citizens would have a more tolerant and progressive attitude towards others.

If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

I usually take out-of-towners on a complete tour.

A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?

Last year, an angry extreme right group held a manifestation and wrecked my neighbour’s store window. We decided to fix this horrible deed and held a fundraiser where we sold flash tattoos and printed t-shirts – and, more importantly, spread the word of tolerance.
Interview: Cleo Klapholz