Shannon McKinnon is the boss of Aisle6ix Industries screen-printers, operator of Secret Walls Australia division and an all-round all-Australian legend. He took a little time out of his busy lifestyle to give us the lowdown on his love affair with screen-printing, Australian art and Chilli.
Big Shannie Mac, tell us a little bit about what you do… What’s the crack with Aisle6ix, how did it evolve? And has it always been something you’ve wanted to do?
Aisle6ix Industries developed when I moved to Sydney from Canberra and fell in love with screen-printing. During my studies I met Greg Beer, VNA’s art director, and he and I would come up with designs and I would screen-print them. After four years in Sydney, I moved to London and spent two years working for Photofit, an amazing screen-printing shop just near Old Street tube. It was back-to-basics and an amazing experience. I then moved to Melbourne and worked for Screenplay in Fitzroy then made another move, this time to Sydney, where Aisle6ix Industries really got its roots. So after lots of travel and with a huge amount of support from my girlfriend, Shakira, Aisle6ix Industries is busier than ever.
More jump off after the jump off
How long have you been doing Secret Walls (formerly Secret Wars)?
I’ve been involved in Secret Walls since 2006, back when I was living in London.
How did you first get amongst all that?
I went along to one of the London events at Juno, on Shoreditch High Street, and got chatting with Terry Guy, the founder. I remember telling him that I had a few ideas and he called me to arrange a catch up. I joined the team and I’ve never looked back.
What’s the plan long term with SW?
My long-term plans are to keep pushing Secret Walls on this side of the globe. Australia and New Zealand have a huge amount of talented artists. We’ve had successful series in Melbourne and Sydney, so in 2013, we plan to get the event rolling out in other states.
You’ve been involved in some amazing projects, we first met when you were doing Outpost last year, do you find it easy to make creative projects happen in Sydney, or Australia on the whole?
There are some great projects here in Australia, however, there could be more. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing and prepared to work hard anything is possible. When I was in London, there were more people pushing artistic projects, but that would also be due to the extra population. Outpost was great and it was fantastic to be part of the inaugural event and to show a lot of people what Secret Walls is all about.
Who are your favourite artists right now and why?
Tough question, all of the artists that have taken part in the 5 Secret Walls series are so talented I couldn’t single anyone out.
With the Biennale on and regular shows happening all the time, there seems to be loads going on in terms of art at the moment, why do you think there’s such a strong representation in the Aussie art scene right now?
The Australian artists are really pushing themselves and prepared to step outside Australian borders to showcase their work. They can compete with the best international artists and hold their own. Australians are being taken seriously for their art and not being defined by living in an isolated country.
Is there anything else you’d like to be doing creatively now or in the future?
At the moment I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I do have a bunch of cool collabs in the pipeline. More to come on that later…
What are your biggest passions in life?
Chilli, music, screen-printing and art.
Big ups and shout outs?
Big ups to Shakira, Mum, Sue, D&L, Rori, Matt, Tom, Charlee, Tyla, Lena, Scott, my god son LJ, Greg, Bec and Rose, Eddie, TMFT, the Secret Walls Australia artists and crew.