Contributors - Issue 169 - Magazine | Monocle

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Belgian comic-book artist Pierre-Yves Berhin goes by the moniker Hamo. He developed his artistic talents at the École Supérieure des Arts Saint-Luc in Liège and now lives in a small Belgian village where he works from his home in a 1950s former bakery. He is also a talented musician who plays the accordion. We commissioned him to create an exclusive story for monocle to celebrate the creative culture of the comic strip.

What does the place you live do really well?
For me, one of the most important aspects of a good life is to have easy access to culture. I must say that here in Belgium, and France, we have lots of things to see, hear and learn about. And this is available for everyone, especially for families. That’s probably the reason why I stay here.

Julia Lasica

When London-based Lasica isn’t hard at work researching stories for monocle, she can be found wild camping. “I would do that every weekend if I could – and if the sun was shining,” she says. “Hiking and outdoor swimming too.” For this issue, she profiled Natalia Kamenska for our Ukrainian designers in exile story. “It was a serious topic and it was fascinating to speak with a designer whose work I have followed since she co-founded her brand Gunia.” 

What would you improve about your city?
I loved playing pétanque when I was in France this summer. Outdoor spaces for playing communal games with neighbours would be my big change. Despite London having a lot of parks, there isn’t that much free public infrastructure for sports.

Kevin Serna
Iowa survey

Chicago-based photographer Serna has a deep regard for place and portraiture so he was the perfect pick to capture the many inspiring spots to visit in Iowa, as well as the influential people of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Davenport. “When not doing photography-related activities, I’ve been having fun doing diy projects at home and playing with design. It’s a rewarding use of my creative energy,” he tells us. 

How would you improve your city?
It might need an entire culture shift at subway stops but I would love to see more investment in Chicago’s public transit and for it to be more than just a way to get to and from your destination.

Naomi Xu Elegant

Elegant serves as monocle’s writer in Singapore, though she was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. For this issue, she visited the Mud Rock ceramics studio to find out more about its creations being given as diplomatic gifts to other countries. “The founders’ dog is a serene and dignified Scottish Highland terrier named Buddy, which lounged on the table for the duration of our interview,” she says. “He was a very good mascot who did wonders for Mud Rock’s own soft-power influence.” 

What can your city be doing better?
Singapore’s urban design, from speedy trains to abundant greenery, makes it comfortable but I’d love it if shops could sell alcohol later than 22.30.

Clara Tabales
Iowa survey

Tabales is an illustrator from Seville who worked on this issue’s Iowa Survey. When not putting pen to paper to create her characterful sketches, she loves being outdoors, either skateboarding or walking on the banks of Seville’s Guadalquivir river. The work on this issue kindled a desire to spend more time in the US. “I realised the vastness of the country and how little we know about its interior states and lesser-visited places,” she says.

How would you improve your city?
I would like Seville to have more green spaces that could refresh the city centre as it can get very hot. Recently an old tree that provided a lot of shade in a square was cut down. Such situations could be avoided with better maintenance.

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