Words: Cam Huggins
Being seen on the streets of New Zealand and action sports athletes at the top of the pro scenes, ilabb has come a long way since it produced graphics for Kiwi riders. Even though the brand is now international – with the likes of Levi Sherwood, Romain Febvre and Broc Tickle repping it – the moto graphics side of things is back in a big way, but under a new name: DB Graphics. We caught up with Cam Huggins, the creative director, to tell us how the rebirth came about…
Like most riders in the Kiwi moto scene, I’ve been involved with motocross for most of my life, which would ultimately shape my career. While growing up, I wanted my bike to look pretty trick – just as any motocrosser does – and that led me to design and signwriting. Straight out of high school, I went to work for a signwriting company, but I always wanted to design graphics for bikes. Of course, I started designing my own kit while I was working at a local signwriting business, and then started doing the same for other people. Eventually, after a few years of learning the trade, I left to start my own company.
That company was called Nitro Signage, which was mostly signage, and it only lasted for about two months. Now, that’s not because of bad business, either. It’s because I was given the opportunity to partner up with some really creative people and do something exciting.
See, in my spare time away from Nitro Signage, I had started designing heaps of kits for all the makes and models of motocross bikes that Kiwis ride. That’s when my buddy, Seadon Baker, one of the founders of ilabb, sat down with me to have a talk about where the moto graphics side of things could go and getting the designs out under ilabb.
The first thing that was talked about was where could people see these designs and let people know that ilabb was still making graphics, but we figured a lot of people were confused between ilabb the clothing brand and ilabb the graphics company – and that’s how DB Graphics came about.
So, partnering with Seadon and Matt Saunders, the other founder of ilabb, we formed DB Graphics, which stands Doctor B – the doctor that will make your brand healthy.
At Doctor B, it’s not just moto graphics – although, that is where the passion started from, for both ilabb and DB – but also signage, branding and merchandise. Since ilabb had morphed into an international clothing brand, I came in and started producing the graphics, which is where ilabb has its roots. It has been cool to work with Matty and Seads to rebirth the brand and get it rolling, as it is so iconic in New Zealand, with a lot of our best shredders part of the ilabb family.
As I’m based out of ilabb HQ in Grafton, it is easy to find inspiration, since it’s an awesome atmosphere. Everyone in the building is creative, so ideas are coming from all directions, making it the perfect place to work.
Of course, another perk is getting to rock the pink helmet, which only ilabb riders get to do. In fact, I just wrapped my Bell Moto-9 Flex in pink vinyl, which is also another service we can supply – just not the pink, mind you!
All the services can be found on the website, too, which showcases what we offer, including the exclusive use of the ilabb brand in any decals you like. If you like what you see, just drop us a line and we’ll work with you to make your ride pretty rad.
So, what’s the process?
Basically, some people come to us with an idea of what they want, while others have a blank slate, which allows us to inspire them with our designs. Some people say, “Hey, just go nuts with it,” which is cool, but others want something similar to what they see on other bikes. Either way, it’s cool to work with fellow riders and produce something awesome.
We have a lot of styles for all the major models of motocross bikes, as well as all the ilabb back catalogue from seven years of decal designs, which people can choose to run or mix up a little – such as name, numbers, logos and colours. The graphics are still made the same way that ilabb used to make ‘em, in the same place, using the same materials. But, now, it’s just under a different name – really, the only thing that’s changed is the logo on the bike, which is the DB instead of the ilabb block. But we can still add the iconic capsized ilabb logo anywhere you want.