Q&A with Nathan Devine – Author of Retrash
Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background?
My name is Nathan Devine and I live on the south coast of Sydney in a town called Gerringong. I have been recycling and upcycling all of my life, I love working with materials that I find in all sorts of places, like the tip, the side of the road and ebay.
My passion for creating new from old started when I was working in the family business, which was mowing lawns and rubbish removal. We were at the tip on a fairly regular basis as kids and I was always excited by what treasures I might find to take home.
One time when we were at the tip, I noticed half a dozen small black and white TVs that my dad let me take home to clean up and sell. It was such an empowering feeling to be able to create my own pocket money from something that had been thrown away. That event really changed my perspective on rubbish and the value that it has to different people.
Even now as an adult I still get excited going to the tip to find materials that I need for a project, the magic is still there for me and I am sure that probably sounds crazy to some people!
I like to work with salvaged timber to build structures like this garden shed below, which looks old but it was only recently built. That’s what I like about using second hand materials, they have years worth of stories in every dent and chip which gives whatever you build instant character.
How long has Retrash been around and what inspired you to create it?
I started the Retrash.com website over three years ago now, with the single intention of showing the most beautiful and innovative ideas on reusing second hand materials. I love being inspired by what others are creating around the world, and the way they find the beauty in whatever materials they use.
Tell us a bit about your new book ‘Retrash’? And when can we expect to be able to grab a copy?
As part of the whole Retrash project, I wanted to compile what I think are some of the most creative and innovative designers and artists in the form of a book. The book is a recycled piece of art itself as it is printed on 100% recycled paper. This not only uses waste paper, but it also supports the recycling industry because without it all rubbish would end up in landfill.
I am currently raising funds to get the book printed via a crowd funding campaign, there is still 20 or so days left to get a copy of the book at a greatly reduced price. The money raised from this book will go towards printing the book and promoting the upcycling movement.
Who would be your favourite Upcycle Artist? Who inspires you the most?
One designer that stands out for me is Morgan Wills, who is based in Ballarat Victoria. The scarf below is some of her work that I particularly like, which is made from old jumpers. It is such a simple idea but the way that she has used colour and design to create something so beautiful from what would otherwise be discarded, inspires me to look at what else I can repurpose and upcycle myself.
What’s the best or most interesting Upcycle project you’ve ever come across?
I would have to say that the work of French artists Gilles Eichenbaum truly blows me away. His kettle lamp is featured below and it makes me wonder how he thought to do that in the first place, and then how he actually cut all of those holes to create such a visually stunning piece.
A top tip for anyone looking to rethink their waste or reduce their carbon footprint?
If you don’t know where to start with repurposing, reusing or upcycling your old items, I would suggest looking at what others are doing to spark your imagination. Whenever I have something that is going to be thrown away, I love doing a google search to see what others have made from it. Also head to Retrash/LatestFinds to see some of the artists and designers that I have featured over the years.