Meet Kevin Heaslip from Fab Art in Old Bar. His love for art has translated into fashion.
> Fab Art is based in Old Bar. How long have you lived and worked in the area yourself?
I moved here from Sydney in 1984. I’d been working as a screen printer in different areas, also in retail display / merchandising. I moved here to take a display manager job at Waltons. I worked casually as a printer at Taree Sunne and a small screen printing business called Meaprint, which I took over in 1987 and started ‘Fab Art’, located in Victoria St. Taree. After 2 years, I moved out of the business and went on to work at Hot Tuna Surfwear; this was a great experience. After that, I travelled and did a stint in England printing T shirts for a surf company.
When I returned, I set up in a garage to print Hot Tuna and have kept building on the business since. In 1995 I started trading as Heaslip Screen Printing and moved to my current factory in Old Bar in 1998. The business grew steadily in the following 10 years. I changed my trading name back to Fab Art in 2008. I now employ an apprentice, and specialise in T shirts and all garment printing, plus caps, bags, stickers and promotion products. We have an ever growing customer base that takes in the entire East Coast.
> Screen printing is an interesting art form. What got you into this particular medium?
I was a mad drawer at school and was keen to try to get work in any field where I could do this. As soon as I finished school (Year 10), I got on the phone and rang everywhere looking for work and got a job with a large screen printing company that printed everything from stickers to large advertising banners, poker machine reels and car rego labels. I then got into display work for retail, which involved printing promo signs, posters and other in store stuff. I got into tees when I moved up here, so I’ve seen lots of uses for screen printing.
> Aside from your must do jobs at work, what dream project would you love to work at all day?
Most jobs are pretty straight forward, but I also get some more interesting and more challenging ones as well, with more colours and more technique.
I really like doing my own designing and original prints and could easily spend all my time doing that; but, you’ve got to pay the bills, so I do it when I can. I have just started a web store, where I’ll be selling original design T shirts and caps.
This has been a long time coming, but it’s finally happening, so I’ll be devoting more time to this to keep it fresh by adding new prints and styles. The store is linked to my website, which, since it started, has added considerably to the amount of new business that has come in. The site has info, prices and links to all the labels that I supply for printing. The address is: www.fabart.com
> Why should people opt for an authentic face to face experience with Fab Art as opposed to, say, shopping online?
I guess face to face works, because it’s easier to get a feel for what people want, as far as getting their ideas across and working on a finished concept with them, discussing the options for what garments will best suit, and what colours work for their prints; it all helps the finished product.
By the same token, using my website is easy for clients to browse different suppliers and garments at their leisure, and contact can all be done by email; this also works well. I have loads of customers from all over that I have never seen.
> Where can we find you outside of work?
When I’m not working, I’m usually doing something with my kids – surfing is the main escape. My son Max is starting to surf now, so that gets me in the water more with him, which is great. I love to travel to Bali every year with my family, and I’m trying to get to the snow most years as well. I’m a big cooking fan – love it! Some days off I will use the entire day to plan and prepare what I’m cooking for dinner.
> How would people and previous clients describe you?
My wife tells me that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and probably a bit irritating, but customers would hopefully come away feeling they were looked after and got the job the way they wanted it. I offer pretty fast turn around on all jobs and always produce a quality product. As far as customer feedback goes, I get goods marks. As well as constantly getting new customers, I keep getting the repeat ones as well. That means that I’m doing something right. I do a large percentage of the printing in this area, with my own client base and also being the unseen printer for workwear shops both in the Manning and Port Macquarie.
> In five years, where would you like to be, both personally and work wise?
In 5 years, most of all, I’d like to still be in business. I’d like one more member of staff and I’d like to be doing what I’m doing now, as well as some more specialised printing. I want to keep up to date with the industry and keep improving on the whole business both for myself, and for the customer. I hope that I’m doing more original stuff and that people want to wear it. Personally, I want the usual stuff – health and happiness.
> Fab Art is located in Old Bar.
Ph: 6553 7708.