This month we shine the spotlight on Echo members and recent graduates of our Creative++ programme, Contemporary Lynx…
1. Contemporary Lynx… what intriguing name! What do you guys do?
Sylwia Krason: Thank you! Since 2013, together with my friend Dobromila Blaszczyk, we run a print and online publication on art and culture called Contemporary Lynx Magazine. As we are both from Poland, it came naturally, that we focussed on contemporary art mainly from this part of Europe. We started Lynx, because we have noticed that, there is a lack of information in English language on art from Eastern Europe. So Lynx was born to fill this gap.
Today, Contemporary Lynx magazine is a biannual independent publication for art, design, collecting and photography, available in some of the most important museum and gallery shops across the world. To give an example, I was particularly proud that the previous issue of the Magazine was the only one recommended by the Tate Modern’s bookstore.
The Magazine includes specially commissioned artwork, bespoke covers and specific themes, and also interviews with key figures in the international art world – for example, the last issue included interviews with Gilbert & George and photographer Martin Parr, and a range of insightful essays that debate current trends in visual culture. Each copy is stamped and signed, and distributed all over the world.
2. Why the name Contemporary Lynx?
It is a funny story. Originally, it was supposed to be Contemporary Links, but the domain with this web address has already been taken. So, Lynx was the closest phonetically to ‘links’, and it also made perfect sense since the animal lynx is considered to be an elusive and mysterious creature with exceptional eyesight. So, I thought it will be a beautiful metaphor of Polish art – which is a bit elusive and unknown to foreigners. That’s how Lynx’s mission became to hunt for news on the Polish contemporary art scene with precision and a keen eye for talented emerging artists.
3. Have you had any lightbulb moments since starting the business?
Yes, a couple of times. One of the lightbulb moments was when I realised that Contemporary Lynx doesn’t have to be only a magazine on art and culture. Contemporary Lynx is a brand, with a strong, cohesive and consistent identity followed by a large international audience. So, a couple of years ago, we started to organise events, talks with experts, run a Concept Store on our website where we sell designs, photobooks, prints, our print magazine and so on. We also participate in the most important art fairs (Frieze London or Art Basel) and festivals, co-publish books, run workshops and networking events – all under Lynx’s brand umbrella.
4. You’re based in Hackney Wick – what drew you to the area?
I moved to Hackney Wick last year. I have always been a big fan of this place, coming here regularly for Hackney WickED festival or to party with friends in the summertime. I feel good here. Now, that I run my own company, by living here I have discovered plenty of opportunities for people like me – who work from home and who sometimes prefer to spend a working day in a friendly café with WIFI and delicious coffee or to go to one of the networking events for entrepreneurs, regularly organised in the area.
5. What attracted you to join Echo?
I was looking for a course on SEO, and through the Here East Facebook page, I came across Echo’s workshop offer run my Echo member Mike Loomey at 3 in 1 Web Design. Straight away, I fell in love with the main idea of how Echo functions – sharing tasks and skills for a virtual time-based currency and at the same time offering really high-quality workshops to bring people together.
6. What kinds of things have you traded on Echo so far?
I advertise my offer, which is one-to-one expertise in running an independent print publication. I was pleased to find out that there are wonderful people interested in such knowledge.
I took part in the workshops on SEO and digital marketing. I am always looking to improve my technical skills on topics, which I am unfamiliar with. It takes a lot of time and sometimes it is a daunting experience, but thanks to expert’s advice, I managed to tweak some seemingly small bits of the website, which greatly improved its visibility. I was super pleased.
7. What’s been your favourite Echo experience so far?
I was invited to take part in a CREATIVE++ monthly weekend course for entrepreneurs organised by Echo, which was a fantastic experience. The best part was that I made friends with the other participants. We still meet, mostly during other networking and start-up events for entrepreneurs and stay in touch via our the Echo++ Facebook group.
Apart from that, the workshops were very useful. For instance, for the first time, I had a chance to pitch my business idea to a professional panel of experts. This showed me that I still have a lot to learn and improve.
8. What advice would you give to someone just joining Echo?
Just focus on the skills you need to brush up, post your offer, start trading and meet like-minded people.
9. What are you looking for on the Echo marketplace?
We are always looking for freelance writers willing to share their talents in writing and editors/proof-readers. We would like to publish more videos in our online Magazine, and so people with skills of filming or vloggers are also wanted.
10. What’s coming up for you / are you focusing your energy on 2018?
In April, our new print issue with the main topic Art for All/ Art & Play came out. This time, we prepared something special for our readers; an exceptional interactive cover with stickers made by the artist Marta Antoniak. For the first time, our subscribers were given the chance to win an original painting and some hand-made brooches by this fascinating artist.
We also plan to again travel to the world’s most important art fairs to promote the magazine – including the original Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze London, Turin and we’ve already been to Art Brussels this April, where the new issue of the magazine had its premiere. This month, we are also starting our new initiative – a series of creative workshops on the topics ‘how to publish a print magazine’ and ‘digital storytelling’. It’s going to be another exciting year!
11. Finally, what’s your favourite hidden East London gem to visit and why?
I love White Post Cafe on White post lane in Hackney Wick for its nice atmosphere, background music and friendly staff. I sometimes go there to work when I need to a change of environment to get my creative energy flowing. Also, I like Hatch Cafe nestled next to Homerton Station. Again, it’s a great place for meetings in the early afternoon. And for relaxing, nothing beats having Victoria Park on your office doorstep.