Last Friday 20 July saw the inaugural Sol Workshop Session Live Build event kick off at our Camperdown store. With the shop packed to capacity we undertook the massive job of completing a custom Mercury 250 build, commissioned by our friends at Jagermeister in just 1 night.
Adrian and Steve from Sol were joined by Brad and Faidon from Rising Sun Workshop to assist with the epic task. Also on hand was Dave from Bad Arse Trim Co. to upholster the seat on-site, Roger from Retro Line with some live pin striping and Sam from Colourfuel who provided the paintwork.
We ended up completing the task in just on 2 hours!
Photography by Alexandra Adoncello.
The complete run down of the Mercury 250 build went something like this:
1. Remove seat, tank, handlebars, mirrors, indicators, grips, side covers, rear mudguard & taillight, front guard and brackets, chain guard, exhaust, emissions unit, rear footpegs.
2. Install clip ons, grips, Bar end indicators
3. Upholster seat
4. Install speedo
5. Headlight bulbs swap
6. Front fairing install
7. Relocate horn
8. Cut subframe
9. Tack on new hoop
10. Wire in taillight and indicators
11. Remove stock muffler
12. Weld on supporting bracket
13. Wrap exhaust
14. Install new muffler and exhaust
15. Remove rear wheel, swap tyre and reinstall
16. Remove front wheel, swap tyre and reinstall
17. Install tank, new seat, rear cowl, side covers
18. Apply tank, fork and headlight decals
19. Apply hager bottle cap on rear engine mount
20. Start her up!
Melbourne business graduates Liam and Ali have three key things in common: a degree in commerce, an unwavering wanderlust for Australia and their beloved Bilby – a 1990 Toyota Coaster (a school bus in a previous life). Their travels take them, Bilby and their custom Mercury 250 up and down the East Coast. And while the South and West Coast are on their radar, the plan for the next journey is to not plan it at all.
How did you end up on this journey? What are your backgrounds and what brought you to this point?
We are Liam and Ali, both 25 year olds from Melbourne, with commerce degrees. We had an epic dream of travelling around Australia in a converted school bus. We both had just finished uni and didn’t want to jump straight into corporate jobs. We also both wanted to travel for a long time without spending huge amounts of money. We knew Europe and America would mean expensive quick holidays so we decided we’d do something different, so we bought a bus, made it into our dream adventure vehicle, whacked a motorbike on the back and took off to explore the great coastlines that Australia has to offer.
Tell us about Billy. What sort of van is it and how did you end up with it?
Bilby is a 1990 Toyota Coaster, ex-school bus that we ripped the seats out of and converted ourselves out of scrap wood and recycled materials. We have a bed, kitchen, couch/spare bed, along with a full solar powered electrical set up that runs our TV, fridge and devices. We bought him from a school in Shepparton, VIC and have had him for nearly 2 years now. We live full time in the bus now and have been on the road for a whole year and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
What are some of the favorite places you’ve visited?
So far we have travelled from Melbourne up the East Coast of Australia twice and we have always struggled to narrow down our favourite spot. We wrote a blog post on our website (bilbythebus.com) about our favourite spots and could only narrow it down to 15 of our favourite locations. These included places like Wilsons Prom, Crescent Head, Noosa North Shore and the Whitsundays. We absolutely love the beach and haven’t ventured too far off the coast just yet. Most of our days are spent parked up at a beach somewhere and enjoying the sunshine.
How do you plan your itinerary?
We have absolutely no plans in advance ever. Everyday is a new day and we take it as it comes. If we are sick of a place then we move on and we find somewhere new to explore. A lot of the coolest places we have found have come from getting lost on the way to somewhere else.
How does your Mercury 250 fit into the adventure?
Liam has always been a massive café racer fan and wanted a motorcycle desperately before we left. We had no idea how it was going to fit into our trip that we were planning when he went to have a look at one on a whim and came home saying he had put a deposit down. It wasn’t until a week before we left that we found someone to build us a rack on the back of the bus to put the motorbike on so we could take it with us. From the very first day we purchased the Mercury we knew what we wanted it to look like. We actually painted the bike before we did the bus and we loved the colour so much we thought why not have them matching. It is incredible how many questions we get every day about the motorcycle and comments about how vintage it looks.
Where’s next for you guys?
At some point soon we’d like to head over to the West Coast of Australia via South Australia and explore the other side of the country, but for now we are happy cruising up and down the East Coast catching up with friends we have made along the way and surfing the winter swells.
We recently caught up with Aisle6ix Industries founder and screen printing virtuoso Shannon McKinnon to talk industry hustle, influences in music and art, and why printing by hand is always key. The Aisle6ix crew is all about creative collaboration and are one of the most sought after screen printing studios in Sydney. It’s no wonder – they’ll print on just about anything.
How did you get started in the industry?
I’ve always been interested in screen printing as an art form so I studied screen printing at Tafe one night a week in my 20’s. I moved to London a few years later and worked in a print shop called Photofit. That was such an important learning experience for me, and so much of what I learnt in that print shop I use in my business today. I stayed in London for two years then moved to Melbourne and worked in a print shop called Screenplay. I later moved to Sydney and participated in the Australian Government run NEIS program. Instead of getting the dole you do a small business course, write a business plan and then you put that into action. So Aisle6ix Industries was born. I shared a studio with a couple of mates and the business has grown from there. Seven years later and Aisle6ix is busier than ever.
Do you have any particular influences?
I’m a huge fan of Mambo, Morning Breath, Fail, Marks of The Beast, Juxtapoz Magazine, VNA Magazine and I love a wide variety of music, including anything Giles Peterson broadcasts, LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead and everything in between.
What are some of the more interesting items you’ve printed on?
Over the past seven years we’ve printed onto perspex, timber, yoga mats, book covers, pennants, hessian sacks, guitar pedals, flags, pencil boxes, tablecloths, leather, MDF menu holders and bandanas. We had a saying that if we can get it flat we’ll have a go at printing on it.
You’re an avid hand printer — why is hand printing superior?
Hand printing gives us complete control and the flexibility to make changes as we go. If we start printing a colour that you’ve asked for and then you decide it’s not actually what you want, we can stop, adjust the colour, and then start printing again. It’s all about producing the best possible product.
All photography by Billy Zammit
At the ripe old age of 20, Sydney based photographer / videographer Billy Zammit has already established a firm industry foothold and sought after aesthetic, shooting for global brands, bands and everything in between. Oh, and more importantly he's one of the most humble blokes you're likely to come across - good vibes are the order of the day.
You’ve shot for some big name brands, how did you get started in the industry?
As a teenager I always had camera in hand, exploring Sydney city and frequenting hardcore shows at the local PCYC. This lead to me working for a handful of publications covering live music and festivals. I was using the best gear I could afford and attempting to match the quality of the gear I needed - however this wasn’t a possibility at the time and I had to make do!
Whilst slowly ticking off artists and acts from around the world, shooting on behalf of various clients - I was also collaborating with some of Australia’s best street artists and muralists.
This allowed me to lend my affinity for street photography and graffiti to a new light, commercialising their works for client projects and leading some incredible campaigns.
Fortunately the combination of all night editing sessions and all day shoots - I was very fortunate to encounter and grow friendships with so many likeminded incredibly driven creatives, eventually establishing a client base in fashion and commercial advertising.
What is your individual style? Do you think your images exude a particular technical or stylistic quality?
It’s taken some long nights and hard work to establish my aesthetic. I like to believe that my work stands out in a saturated market and hopefully be identifiable as my own. It’s taken me the past five years to establish my current treatment and ‘look’ - however there’s always room to grow and I’m truly afraid of getting comfortable, so I like to mix it up whenever I can. Looking forward to whatever the next move is!
I have always had an appreciation for street photography and this is somewhat where my branding elements stem from. I’m a huge believer of capturing a moment and not curating (in the appropriate setting) - this is then reflected in my post production.
For example, If I were to be shooting a live show, I like to work on the images the same night until early hours of the morning - the energy from the crowd, the stage performance, the mindset of shooting stays with me. A combination of this and also playing music representative of the project on hand, it’s extremely important for me to find a middle ground between my personal post production techniques and ensuring the energy from the image or video is represented in the treatment I apply.
What is it about shooting motorcycles you enjoy?
Every opportunity I have to work with motorcycles and shoot these campaigns I can’t help but get excited! From hanging out of car windows, the wind whistling in my ears as we shoot down a highway - to working in remote locations and showing the beauty behind the machine. It’s always an incredible experience and never taken for granted.
The ‘talent’ on these shoots are always the most down to earth people and the whole ‘personality’ behind riders is reflected in their bike! There’s always a story to be told or a complaint to be had about their machine - it’s what keeps it interesting. If it’s creating a campaign around a new release or a blog post about a sick little cafe racer that barely starts, there’s just something special you can’t replicate.
Do you have any particular photographic influences?
Unfortunately not! I try to keep ‘references’ to a minimum and create my work from scratch. Although it’s impossible to not be indirectly influenced from the mass amount of imagery via social media etc.
My post production colour palette and treatment is loosely based on analogue film - not in the way of presets and VSCO. More so in the treatment of desaturated colours and lowered vibrancy, usually including some grain in my images and not being afraid get a little dirt on my filters.
As for my actual image capture - Im always trying to improve on my compositions and move to angles that can’t be replicated with a zoom lens. My whole kit is made up of prime lenses (fixed focal/zoom lengths) which allows me to find a frame and use my body rather than stay static and zoom into an image. I also try to keep my amount of captures to a minimum and not over shoot - try a frame and if it’s not right, move into a different position and find the next one. Again almost bringing it back to the roots and limiting myself to a set amount of exposures rather than having 500 images on a card after a shoot.
What would your ideal project or assignment consist of?
The ideal project to work on would be with an incredible crew, making some magic happen for a client with an open brief. Having a brand bible to adhere to and an aesthetic treatment to create.
An incredible atmosphere followed by a burger and few beers on wrap.
I’ll always take a Euro/States project when they come up though. They’re pretty ideal...
The global phenomenon that is the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride took place last Sunday 24 September, and it's not too late to make a contribution to the very worthwhile cause of men's mental and physical health. Sydney based photographers Kel Bush and Pete Cagnacci were on hand to shoot some of the riders who started the day from our Sydney store.
If you have any flicks of dapper don's riding a Mercury or Nemesis at any of the rides we'd love to see them. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Congrats again to the team at DGR - take a bow boys!