The big picture: reusable bags from reused billboards

Wellington designer/maker Stu Whibley of 6by3 is walking the walk when it comes to promoting less wasteful practises in production. His range of hand-made, hard-wearing, versatile and fashionable messenger and tote bags showcase eco-friendly and affordable carryware – and a great use of what would otherwise be unwanted rubbish.


What do you make?
I make a selection of bags and carry-ware from old billboards and damaged prints which occur during the printing process.

How did you get into your craft?
The original spark for this idea came from being up close and seeing how much waste the printing process produces.

One day I grabbed a scrap print, measured up a co-worker’s laptop/satchel bag and began drawing something up. I then asked around and found someone in town who let me use one of their sewing machines, they helped me out with the basics and when it was all made up it turned out better than expected, so I ended up using it as my day to day bag, until I brought my own machine around a year later.


Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No formal training, the only sewing and fashion skills I’ve picked up are from my time at intermediate school and college; everything else is self-taught or picked up along the way. I’ve always been into the creative side of things. I studied Graphic and Multimedia Design, so being able to apply some of those skills has helped a lot.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
The billboards are always interesting and exciting to see, I’m unsure what some of them look like, so unfolding these large sheets, taking in all the colours, patterns, textures, going through the motions, breaking them down and shaping them into a niche product feels satisfying when you are holding it in front of you.

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
There’s no special techniques involved, most of the time I only have one banner of one design to work with, so it’s how to get the most out of it. Sometimes that is easier said than done, but I like to think I still manage to do it.




What inspires you?
Nature alway plays a part when it comes to ideas and projects that recycle, upcycle, reuse. My dad got me into the outdoors, camping, hiking and on his famous tiki tours around New Zealand, so that has always stuck with me. Then it’s listening to people talk, pod casts, DVD commentaries, music and movies – making you think a little differently so when you come back to the project your perspective on it has shifted slightly – whether it be the project itself or your mindset, being more motivated and inspired to reach the goal.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Of course reducing waste is the overall idea, keeping things simple, leading by example and using my bags for day to day use and shopping myself, because if I don’t use them why should other people?

Describe your creative process:
The process is pretty mundane when you break it down, which isn’t a bad thing. Put on some music, a movie or podcast and fall into the routine!



Describe your workspace:
All over the show! I don’t have a single workspace, I still work in the print industry so I use some of the factory space and benches to cut them down into more manageable templates and I also do that outside at home. I have another room to prepare all the velcro and webbing needed for the bags, trim and piece together each element and then into the sewing room to put them all together.

Five words that describe your mind:
Visual, ambient, unusual, self-deprecating, thinking.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
It’s always good to hear positve feedback from customers, but the comment that stands out most was from a meeting with a creative team leader. After getting in touch with them and explaining and showing my work to them, they have since begun to source and track down their previous billboards, and begun a more sustainable process in their advertising. It was interesting as well for me to learn more about their side of the overall process.


What are you currently listening to?
Devin Townsend – Ocean Machine/Biomech.

Recommend an album:
Jakob – Solace. A New Zealand group, creating amazing instrumental soundscapes.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I’m not to sure about that one, it wasn’t until I was about 15 or 16 that I started finding books that I enjoyed and still re-read today.

What are you reading now?
Disappointing to say, but I’m not reading anything at the moment; I could chalk that up to being too busy with all this work though, so maybe not too disappointing!

Who is your hero or heroine? Why?
I can’t say there is one single person whom I look up to as a hero. I prefer to compare and contrast multiple people’s ideas and methods. Dorian Yates, Devin Townsend, Peter Jackson, Trent Reznor, David Fincher, Richard Taylor and Adam Savage just to name a few.

A favourite quote:
“So they’re all the third time… except the last time, which is both of the last times.” An audio snippet of Dave Young from the song Gump by The Devin Townsend Project. Makes me chuckle every time I hear it cause I have no idea what he is talking about!

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
Best we leave this one blank, don’t want to give away to much to my nemesis.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
It doesn’t apply to just being in the creative business but if you want to do something, building a house, painting a self portrait, anything, give it a shot and see what happens.


What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I can’t pin point anything recent, maybe a painting/drawing from a French girl in Melbourne but that was five or so years ago. It just looked cool, the canvas was wrapped in old sheet music and then
she had drawn a skull over it. It fitted in with the reason I was over there, to see a heavy metal concert.

What’s in store for 2018?
Nothing locked in, but I am working on some new ideas that will use up the scraps I create during the process, reducing the waste on my end, looking into other recycled products or upcycled materials
I might be able to incorporate in my bags. Always trying to improve what I am doing, whether it is negative or positive feedback, from myself or others, applying it and learning from it. Branching out more, getting back into going to the local markets and looking into other markets around Wellington where I could set up a stall.

Special offer for Felt readers!
Stu has an absolutely awesome deal for Felt customers over the next fortnight – a sweet 50% discount on your purchase of up to three bags from his Felt shop! Just enter the code YESPLEASE in the voucher code field at step 4 of checkout. (Voucher code valid for one transaction per customer.) Can’t ask for better than that, we say – thanks Stu! To receive this great discount make sure to make your purchase before Tuesday 1 May.

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