Hear Me Out Exhibition and Lousy Ink

Term: 2 Year: 2018

Started in 2017 by two young Melbourne artists, Lousy Ink is the world’s first 100% recycled artist ink. Both Oli Ruskidd and Mike Eleven discovered Lousy through Oli’s uncle who works as a chemist at a local recycling factory. Blown away by the amount of ink that was either being stored or wasted, the two took it upon themselves to help redistribute the ink and thus, Lousy Ink was born.

Made from the run-off ink of recycled inkjet cartridges, Lousy takes a forgotten material and upcycles it into a new artist medium. Inkjet printer cartridges are crushed and recycled for their plastic; the leftover ink is deemed ‘waste ink’ and stored with no further purpose. Before Lousy, the containers holding over 80,000L of ink would have remained useless or been burnt as waste to energy, creating chemical waste which is even more harmful to the environment. Although Lousy gives the ink a second chance at life, the brand does more than just sell ink.

Lousy’s good intentions stretch beyond just environmental sustainability and wherever possible, the brand dips into more human-centric issues. In November 2017, Lousy hosted a 50-artist-strong charity exhibition, Hear Me Out, in conjunction with the Anxiety Recovery Centre of Victoria to raise awareness and shine a light on the realities of living with anxiety. After six months of planning, an entire campaign was created and a database was established for anonymous testimonials that were later used to brief each of the artists. The result was a powerfully moving display of honest quotes and artworks that didn’t glorify or sugarcoat anxiety, but instead presented a raw perspective on the matter. The show raised over $4000 for the charity on opening night and a second show is in the works for 2018 with a focus on the intersectional issues of anxiety within the Asian Australian community.

As broad-stroked as Lousy aims to be, the brand is always trying to reinvent itself within the local art scene. From sponsoring exhibitions to creating opportunities to showcase talent outside the gallery, Lousy believes in celebrating creativity in all forms. During a pop-up at the Collingwood Artists’ Market, Lousy invited four artists to create work live on each panel of a makeshift box canvas, which was later donated to charity. The team at Lousy has also found a way to get the ink to a thick enough consistency to screen-print with, creating a further avenue for the brand to experiment on. Constantly pushing the limits and breaking conventions, Lousy positions itself as both an irreverent leader in the field as well as an accessible team player.

Both Oli and Mike are optimistic that a combination of love for art, lack of business skills, and passion to save the world will bear fruit. Even if helping the planet means only moving one bottle at a time.

Oli Ruskidd & Mike Eleven