Editor & co-founder of Ala Champ Magazine – Tokyo
“We are strong believers in the longevity of print” – those who thought that print is dead, will quickly be disabused by Joanna Kawecki and her sister Monique. Joanna is co-founder of Ala Champfest Magazine, a London- and Tokyo-based printed publication which features emerging talents but also those established in the international art, design, photography, travel and sport communities. By introducing their readers to “influential people of our time, the image-takers and creators, movers and shakers”, Ala Champfest Magazine, which is published three times a year and switches between languages with each bilingual issue, aims to establish a like-minded creative culture ahead of its time.
But Joanna’s creativity doesn’t stop here: While working in different hemispheres – Joanna in Tokyo, Monique in London -, the sisters also run Champ Creative, a creative team of art direction, consulting and editorial conception which has working with brands such as Nike, adidas Originals and Stussy to create original content from leading and emerging artists. Moreover, Joanna works as a contributing writer for SHIFT, POST-NEW, Design Quarterly and Assemble Papers to name a few. Please welcome a like-minded friend from the other side of the world!
Which is the most important of the senses to you?
What is the most beautiful thing you ever saw?
Spectacular landscapes of nature! A foggy morning at Honmura Port in Naoshima Island or The Pillars at Mornington Peninsula are captivating. However another type of beauty is kindness and patience shown to strangers – really rare and captivating in today’s fast-paced urban environment.
You and your co-editor and sister Monique are twins but you live in Tokyo whereas Monique moved to London. Usually twins have a stronger inner connection than “regular” siblings – how do you manage to keep this alive even though you are based in different continents?
It would be pretty good to have telepathy (and much easier!) but unfortunately we rely on Skype. We speak almost everyday, but also trust plays a big part in our work vision and curation. It is faster to confirm new projects, when there is confidence in instinct and trust.
Tokyo and London – the cities are not only far away from each other but also very different when it comes to climate. How important is light to you?
Light plays a big role in our lives consciously and unconsciously – never underestimate a dose of Vitamin D for vitality and health.
Sunrise or sunset?
Twilight. Just before sunset, no matter which city or hemisphere, is always captivating. I recommend a walk through Soho in London or T-Site Daikanyama in Tokyo at twilight, where the natural light dims and the contrasting artificial neon lighting begins.
Does the difference of environment exert disparate influences on you and Monique?
Our urban landscapes seem to be fairly similar, the metropolitan lifestyle is a hustle and concrete jungle universally. However, for Monique – Poland or Paris is just a few hours away, whereas for me Hong Kong or Melbourne is more accessible. This helps make the international potential disconnection seem closer and more connected. The diverse environments also provide influence and inspiration from their unique and historical cultures developed over time and generations – some with the most fascinating heritages.
Some years ago, print was declared dead when online magazines got stronger and stronger. But you still believe in the power of print. What makes it so unique to you?
We are strong believers in the longevity of print. The death of print is such an iconic statement that is constantly questioned, with the same response – that it isn’t. Chain bookstores do close, but new and fascinating niche spaces are popping up – even concept stores and boutiques utilise the reputation of curated printed matter – leveraging on intelligence and knowledge that can’t be found online.
Online magazines will also always have their place, they cater for fast-paced communications and importantly – accessible to almost everyone. Print is kept for its aesthetic and textural elements, ownership or collectibility. However whether print or online, the importance of emphasis is just in genuine communication and sharing of knowledge in general!
Once you said „We’ve always been incredibly interested in magazines and sought inspiration from their designers, those featured and the visual aesthetics as an easy yet dynamic form of expression“. How important is print’s visual appearance to you?
Simply so the design or visual appearance does the content justice. We are so humbled by the calibre of work and people featured, and the wisdom or inspiration from words shared. We simply want to do them justice, and encourage readers to pause and stumble upon insight from another – leisurely time is a rare moment in our lives these days, we have to make the time or convince ourselves of its value!
Champ Magazine focuses on contemporary culture. Who do you want to reach and what is your intention?
We want to reach the international community, cross-cultures, cross-disciplines and strengthen relationships between remarkable work and original thinking. Our contemporary focus takes influence from past generations and cultures, but presents it in relevance to todays culture and lifestyles.
How do you select artists and curate in Champ Magazine?
From insightful nature and interest to listen and explore, and see all mediums as information. It’s an editors job to be open to everything, and curate later. From friends to online feeds, to a random brochure or passing mention – we listen and examine everything. In the end, everything is connected – it’s all about joining the dots – the world and communities are small, yet always changing – and it’s important just to keep up and communicate it.
What is your vision as a creative person for your own work?
Always be open to learn from others, but be true to your vision and never compromise.
Work hard and be nice to people. Nothing is too serious. Have fun!
Do you have a vision to make this place a better one?
Yes! Really, the world is so small. It’s so rewarding to work genuinely and connect friends, and to be a catalyst for great and memorable work.
When was the last time you gave back and what did you do?
Our presence is the most important and valuable thing we can give – human kindness and genuinity is rare and invaluable – and so consciously and unconsciously appreciated. Be honest and genuine in all you do, generous with knowledge, and expect nothing in return.
Who is your personal hero?
My inspiration is taken from my remarkable friends and family I keep close!
What is your image for IWISHUSUN?
For it to continue to reach as many persons in need as possible.
Each of our human senses are so important, our vision is so precious and the gift of sight is even more remarkably precious.