In the next of our Meet The Maker Series we meet Katcha Bilek, a Bristol based artist working in recycled materials to create stylish fashion accessories.
Hi Katcha! Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I'm a 3D designer specialising in recycling waste material. I'm primarily a handbag and fashion accessories designer - this is my bread and butter. For the fashion accessories I mainly work with tractor inner tubes, car seatbelts and bike tyres.
You have some fantastic creations, what inspires you?
The materials I use have shape and texture and that really defines the look. Also many people come to me for bespoke designs and that really gets the creative juices flowing!
What do you feel makes your work unique?
Each product is unique due to the markings on the tubes. The designs themselves only work with a material that hardly anybody uses - thus making them even more unique!
Is being based in Bristol important to your work?
It certainly is. Bristol is such a creative hub and we're proud to be based in Bristol and be 100% made in Bristol too.
If you were to give one of your products as a gift, what would it be and why?
It really depends on the receiver of the gift. The product range is extensive and there are items that appeal to men and women of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life.
What is the best thing about being a local business?
Our studio is in Hamilton House which is on Stokes Croft: a fantastic building brimming with creative people, events and facilities, on a road that has so much to offer, be it art, dining, dancing, entertainment - you name it, Stokes Croft does it!
What products from other makers on The Bristol Shop do you like?
Work by Andy Council means a lot to me - not only is it iconic Bristol, he did a huge piece for my children's school and even designed their letter head. I also love Susan Taylor's typographic prints (keep meaning to get myself something of hers) and Jill Spence's birds are lovely too.
What has been your greatest success as an independent business?
There have been a number of great successes, the most recent though was to have been commissioned to make the bags going to all the male stars at the BRIT awards this year. It was great to work on a new design, and to know that Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams and even Prince (!!!) now own a KB item.
What aspect of your work do you particularly love?
There are many aspects that I love. Number one is designing - it's such a pleasure to make something new that works and looks great. It's the whole reason for the company. I also love being in a position to spread the eco and ethical message, which is very important to me and keeps the designs and fashion items meaningful. Being surrounded by interesting and creative individuals is great too!