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!
If you've spent any time in Sydney's Inner West chances are you're familiar with illustrator / pirate Sindy Sinn's work. His bold-yet-loose hand drawn style is instantly recognisable and perfectly characterises the fun, creative, laid-back vibe of brands and venues such as The Courthouse Hotel, Mary's and Young Henry's to name a few.
What do you consider yourself as? Artist or designer?
I consider myself an illustrator. Mostly working in the band, bar and beer aspects of the world. I have a hand-drawn style, which I translate digitally in preparation for commercial-reproduction. So whilst I spend a lot of time at the computer, my artwork has a hand-done feeling to it, which I like. I’ve actively avoided things like rulers my whole life, there’s a lot of character in a wonky line.
To answer the question, I guess I’m sort of neither and both. Maybe more of a drawsigner? At the end of the day, I like to draw fucked up skulls with a cold beer to a soundtrack of sabbath.
How did you get started in the industry?
I’ve always liked drawing, and I got started years ago drawing posters for my mate’s bands. Over time I got better and figured out my process, while the projects and bands I’m involved with have gotten bigger. Working for some huge bands like The Misfits, Kreator and Parkway Drive has opened a lot of doors.
At the moment I run an art-studio in Newtown, and we’re very fortunate to have a great crew around us. Being nice, working hard and knowing when to shut-up can get you a long way in any industry.
Do you have any artistic / stylistic influences?
Millions. With the internet at everyone’s fingertips, it’s easy to tap into a world of incredible artwork. Artists like Jim Phillips, Sketchy Tank, Tallboy, Burrito Breath, Alex Lehours, Ben Baker and Mike Watt inspire me.
I think inspiration is one of those things you can really find anywhere if you’re looking for it. You could see someone walking down the street and wonder what’s in their lunchbox, maybe it’s an octopus! From there draw the lunchbox with a slimey-tentacle hanging out of it, maybe a lollypop or a juice-straw stuck to it. And your individual style will dictate how that looks, how detailed it is even down to what colour the tentacle is. Being confident in your style and your process is as important as the ideas you funnel into it.
You recently collaborated with us on a tee. In your mind what makes a killer collab?
Killer collaborations happen when both parties are onboard and willing to share the experience and the process. I regularly collaborate with local beer-legends Young Henrys, and it’s always a really satisfying experience.
Working with Sol Invictus has been equally amazing. It started with an email which I turned into some sketches. We had some beers over sketches, we made some changes and we massaged into place what became the final design. And I think the result looks fucking rad. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together, we bloody nailed it. Plus the crew down at Aisle6ix Industries did a great job with the print, a killer team from start to finish.
What would be your dream project?
I have a list of bands that I’d love to work for… the dream list. Bands like Red Fang, Queens Of The Stone Age and Rob Zombie are on that list. Being given some artistic control on one of their projects is a bit of a wet-dream scenario for me.
So far I’ve been relatively fortunate to have worked with some dream clients.
Designing shirts for Mambo and The Rolling Stones have both been pretty big ticks on the bucketlist. But at the moment, I’m working on a range of shirts and prints for my own website: www.sindysinn.com.au
Making time to work on my own stuff has been really enjoyable (...even if the client’s a bit of a jerk).
And if anyone is keen to get their own rad artwork, get in touch. I won’t bite.
We recently sat down with prolific Sydney based artist and creative Lauren Webster, whose retro inspired and playful illustrative pieces have been exhibited in solo and group shows across Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Paris.
What do you classify yourself as? Artist or Designer?
I am an artist. I dream things up and splash them straight down. Work that requires rulers and measurements or specifics of that nature aren't really my thing. I started drawing as a kid, then studied painting and drawing at art school and I have carried on doing just that until today. My art is what I do to satisfy that need all artists have to create. It is also how I make money to buy coconuts.
How did you get started in the industry?
I lined up my first solo show not too long after finishing up at art school and spent every spare minute that I had creating that body of work. The show went well which put some fire under me to continue creating in that same way. I would work intensely for a some months and then exhibit. From there I just started shaking it up and fusing my art with other interests and played around with different ways of sharing my work.
Today I still create paintings to be hang on the wall, but you will also find my work on surfboards, clothing, out on the street, on skateboards, and more. Oh, and on motorcycle helmets!
Do you have any artistic / stylistic influences?
I have a broad range of influences both in the art world and outside of it. I’m constantly influenced by vintage graphics and retro design elements. Whether it’s album art, vintage cars, tee shirts, or vintage postcards. All of that goodness makes my heart flutter and I use it in my work.
You recently collaborated with us on a helmet. Who else have you collaborated with recently?
Yes, the helmet was such a fun project! I thought a motorcycle helmet was the perfect fit for some of my retro/road-house kind of imagery and had been thinking about that for a while before teaming up with Sol Invictus.
Recently I have also been working with Mctavish Surfboards and Mambo amongst some other awesome brands which I really love and keeps me on my toes.