A humble ten years ago, Sydney’s Inner West was blessed with the birth of Aisle6ix. The bespoke screen printing studio is a thriving, homegrown business with a talented crew of 6 who can print... well… just about anything! With a diverse client base under their belt and a passion for the traditional printing process, Aisle6ix has, and deservedly so, become a force to be reckoned with. We caught up with Shannon, the brains behind Aisle6ix, to dig a little deeper into what it means to be a part of such a homegrown landmark.
INTERVIEW: RUBY AVERY DE-WAAL / PHOTOGRAPHY: BILLY ZAMMIT
NC: Tell us your love story with screen printing! How did you discover the process?
Shannon: It all started when I moved to Sydney from Canberra when I was 26. Aisle6ix started as a T-shirt label as I’m a huge fan of the clothing label Mambo and I loved that they were constantly coming up with new ideas and designs. I loved buying the T-shirts on the racks that I thought were one offs so my plan was to make limited runs of T-shirts under Aisle6ix and the first ones that I printed has slogans on them such as ‘sarcasm = honesty’. In the early days when I was doing screen printing classes at Tafe everyone started to become graphic designers but no one was printing, so I started doing super short print runs. Then in 2005 I went to London and worked at Photofit, which is a print shop near Old Street Tube, and that’s where I learnt most of my printing skills. Returning to Australia I set up my studio in Redfern while doing NEIS and being supported by my wife, Shakira. Fast forward to 2017 and the studio is now in St Peters, Sydney, and we’ve been here for five years. I have an amazing crew working with me.
NC: What does a typical day look like in the Aisle6ix studio?
Shannon: We start early, which means coffee, ovens are turned on and jobs are set up by Matty V and Benny C. If Orbski isn’t printing posters he’s setting up screens, mixing ink or packing finished work. JC, our art guy, is in the artwork preparation zone working his skills and all of this is going on while I’m taking calls, answering emails and running the studio.
"We’re a bespoke printing studio, handmade with passion and skill. We’re interested in delivering products that are well made, durable and unique so they won’t be thrown away in four weeks time."
NC: In a world full of mass production and outlandish consumer demand, it has become increasingly difficult to find businesses with the same level of passion and craftsmanship that exists at Aisle6ix! What is so special about owning a local business?
Shannon: We feel that having control over all aspects of production means that we produce a superior finished product. We are a small team but we all work really well together to ensure attention to detail is maintained throughout every step and we all love what we do. Being based in St Peters which means that clients have easy access to us to discuss their projects.
NC: How do you feel about the nature of mass production in the consumer market right now?
Shannon: I understand that it has a place but it’s at the other end of what we do. We’re a bespoke printing studio, handmade with passion and skill. We’re interested in delivering products that are well made, durable and unique so they won’t be thrown away in four weeks time.
NC: A key part of what you do at Aisle6ix is collaboration! Tell us about that!
Shannon: We love doing collaborations and some of our past clients have included, Kindred Studio, Headset Apparel, Garbett and Formist Studio. Collaborations also push us out of our comfort zones so we’re continually expanding our skill set. We worked with the amazing Jess Scully to put together a fundraising exhibition for Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney. The exhibition included some of Australia’s best artists and graphic designers including Luca Ionescu, Vince Frost, Jumbo, Collider, WBYK, Numbskull, Toby and Pete and Nadia Hernandez. We printed 26 different A2 poster editions of 10.
NC: What is the most memorable job you have received so far?
Shannon: We were contacted by a production company to do some filming for the Mambo: Art Irritates Life documentary that was broadcast on ABC. Mambo is one of the key reasons I got into screen printing so I didn’t hesitate to say yes. At the end of filming, Scott Dettrick, the creative director, said that the studio was the closest to what Mambo was back in their prime. That is easily the best thing that any one has said about the studio. The icing on the cake was printing some original Mambo T-shirts that were used in the tv production.
NC: What’s the grand plan for Aisle6ix? What can we expect to see in the future?
Shannon: We’ve just launched a new website with a bunch of collaboration T-shirts that we’ve been working on and we have our 5th birthday in early 2018 which means it’s going to be a busy and exciting couple of months. We’re always looking to work with different collaborators on projects and our collaborations keep getting bigger and better. One arm of the studio is live printing at events and we’ll be expanding this in 2018 which is really exciting.