Blair’s early years were spent climbing electric fences (though seldom getting too far off the ground) and doodling on scraps of paper. At fifteen, he found a paying outlet for his doodles, working as a political cartoonist for a local newspaper. Eventually the quest for higher knowledge plus, remuneration measured in increments of “obscene”, propelled Blair into the esteemed halls of Wellington’s Polytechnic School of Design. Since graduating in 1993, he has worked as a freelance illustrator, but the closest Blair has come to obscene wealth is occasionally printing up $25 notes on his PocketJet 3 Plus printer and passing them off late at night at a local pub when the bar staff are as pissed as the backpackers they’re serving.
Reg Mombassa is a musician, painter, writer, poet, humanist, sage, dispenser of arcane wisdom, buggerer of sacred cows and much loved national treasure. He is also a founding member of legendary Australian rock band, Mental As Anything.
Reg has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and overseas. His work can be found in the permanent collections of every major Australian gallery including the MCA in Sydney and the National Gallery of Australia. In 2000 Reg designed both the ‘Heroes’ segment for the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony and the poster for the 2000 Paralympic Arts Festival.
When not painting or recording and performing with his brother, Peter in their band, Dog Trumpet, Reg likes to talk with his mouth full and look wistfully toward a future when scientists have finally invented a satellite based mind-ray capable of shattering inflated egos and turning water into export quality beer.
Reg joined Mambo in 1986.
See more of Reg’s work at: www.regmombassa.com
In less sophisticated times, when Mambo Kid’s Wear was designed on a stainless steel bar by whoever turned up at the Cauliflower Hotel for end-of-week-drinks, Amy Caines was busy laying the ground-work for her assault on international youth fashion. For her time and commitment at London College of Fashion University she picked up a “first” in Surface Textiles and an Art Foundation Diploma (not a bad start) which in 2010 she slapped down on the Mambo boardroom table for the interviewing panel to consider while she excused herself and headed upstairs to the design studio to clear a space for her computer.
Amy then went on to exhibit her final graduate collection during Graduate Fashion Week at the Royal Academy Press Show. She was invited to present her work at the London Design festival, designed and showcased textiles and garments at the Dunlop Re-Launch fashion show and was ASOS Menswear Designer of the Year Semifinalist. In addition to these talents, Amy has also been recognised for her extensive and unique hat collection as well as her ability to overcome the terrifying fear of buttons, on a day-to-day basis!
There’s also been dance lessons, skiing, London, photography, fashion, Iceland, music, NYC, shopping,( a lot of shopping) Florence, Yoga, Antwerp, waffles, Amsterdam, naked women in shop windows, hallucinogenic pastries, fancy dress, plus many head scarf’s to go with the hats.
Since arriving at Mambo Amy has grown kid’s wear to become a major part of the company’s retail program. Oh and did we mention – she wears great shoes too!
Ben arrived on earth clutching a box of crayons in one hand and a drawing book in the other.
Early life drawing classes with the crazy hippies out the back of Bellingen on the North NSW Coast led to an interest in art but quickly gave him cause to leave that free and easy life and head to the big smoke for some real training.
Years of slaving away surfing and doodling lead to an Art Express exhibition and a Design bachelor degree.
Following this and in between handling a solid drinking problem, he soon realised that living on the pens is a hard way to make a crust which led to a second degree in Fashion and he focused all his energy on getting some free threads.
After 10 years in the Surf Fashion industry and still no gold watch….Ben arrived at Mambo in 2008. His experience and passion for art, design and the surfing lifestyle introduced Mambo to a much broader market which has in turn helped to push the company into an ever expanding and more attractively accessorized universe that currently includes Australia, NZ, South America and most recently, the sleeping giant that is the United States of America.
When not trying to maintain a position of intellectual superiority in an on-going battle of wits between himself, his two-and-a-half year old son and his newly-born baby girl, Ben can be found in front of a computer drawing or hunched over a beer coaster contemplating the ultimate design for Mambo’s world domination.
The modern Mambo artist is a highly trained and above award earning individual who has a greater depth of both artistic skill and intellectual capacity than that possessed by rival artists currently pulling a wage elsewhere. One such artist is Luke Okay.
An art prodigy at the age of five, Luke’s talent was first recognized at primary school. While fellow students were gluing buttons and gold painted macaroni onto heart-shaped photographs of themselves to present to mum on Mother’s Day, Luke was perched on a little plastic stool knocking out recognizable copies of Poussin’s, Rape Of The Sabine Women and self portraits of an earless Vincent Van Gogh, a painter who continues to inspire his art.
After leaving school Luke survived an Art Degree course at a well-known private institution that would have crushed a less precocious spirit. It was a need to find enough money to cover the cost of surfboard wax, skate decks along with other necessary living expenses that led Luke to launch his own design label. “I mean, how hard can it be?” Hard enough in fact to require him finding a job in the ‘real world’ to supplement his freelance earnings, which after food and rent were deducted, barely covered air for his bicycle tyres.
Hence his arrival at Mambo.
Since arriving for the interview and telling Mambo that they could stop looking for another artist, Luke’s reputation as an artist/designer has grown both inside the beach/street community and beyond where he regularly exhibits and continues to run his own eclectic label.
Ben Brown was born with super thermo X-RAY vision which is naturally enough lead to an obsessive relationship with skulls & bones. (He doesn’t actually see what’s underneath ladies underwear. To Ben it’s all skulls & bones.)
More often than not, Ben will try to pass off his drawings of skulls & bones as serious art. Exasperated clients endlessly plead with Ben to dispense with these childish motifs and deliver the art their lame arsed briefs called for. Ben’s drawings of skulls & bones have recently hung on the walls of some of the worlds hippest art establishments from Sydney to Tokyo, from Melbourne to Byron Bay, and beyond.
Ben’s obsession with skulls & bones lead to the formation of soul destroying hardcore punk rockers, (the) HELLMENN who fractured and imploded all over the grunge stained music scene of the early nineties (their brutal sounds are soon to be re-released by the Missing Link label via the long player, Thermo Nuclear Sonic Burn Out). Loud obnoxious music and drawings of skulls & bones go well together.
Ben’s skulls & bones drawings can be seen on skateboards, rock posters, tee shirts and in magazines. They’re everywhere if you look hard enough.
The modern Mambo artist is a highly trained and well paid individual whose artistic skill plus understanding of the expression, “deadline”, is vastly superior to that of the generally pedestrian talents possessed by artists currently employed by rival brands. Mambo artists are well groomed, evenly tanned, politically aware, socially conscious, and are supportive of Mambo’s belief that dominance in the ‘surf and street’ market can only be achieved through the barrel of a gun. One such member of this elite group is, Karina Jambrack.
Karina is a Sydney based freelance graphic designer and illustrator. Over the past 10 years Karina has worked with several high profile commercial and boutique brands. Karina has recently launched SKY PARLOUR, a furniture and homewares label that incorporates her passion for illustration, textiles, interior decoration and design. (Sky Parlour also encompasses Mambo’s passion for working with a quality designer who can fix us up with top-end homewares at, “mate’s rates”.)
Lee grew up running amuck in the NSW coastal town of Forster, where he discovered a passion for making art at a young age. His earliest drawings were of Batman, a role model for Lee and the inspiration for an ultimately unrealized career in caped crusading. He was also inspired by Mambo artist, Reg Mombassa who Lee chose as the subject of a school assignment in Year 8. Between school and Newcastle TAFE, where he completed almost half of a degree course in design, Lee ‘tossed wok’ at Ciao Mein (or possibly, Soon Fat), Forster’s premier Chinese restaurant.
Post-study support, and the means by which Lee was able to subsidize his passion for ‘goon’ (cask wine) was initially provided by Centre Link with the slack later being picked up by ‘K-RUDD’ (former Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd) whose nation saving, post-GFC handouts (or act of gross fiscal incompetence, depending on which radio shock-jock has your ear) paid for a new MacBook. After covering most of Foster’s telegraph poles and available wall space with posters that he’d designed for local bands, Lee headed for Sydney where, after an extended period of career inertia, he landed at Mambo.
Since arriving at Mambo the speed at which Lee has propelled himself into the position of Co-Senior Progenitor Of Pictorial Embellishments has surprised even his grandmother who envisioned her twilight years spent baking him cakes with files in them. In 2012 Lee created posters for 2 highly visible Mambo sponsored events: the SUMMERSTAGE Australia Day concert in Central Park (NYC), and the Dungog Film Festival. In 2013 he designed the poster for the Drug Aware/Margaret River Pro, in WA where he also painted ‘live’ during the week long event. He is also a regular contributor of painted surfboards to charities such as SurfAid and the NSW Cancer Council who use the money raised from the auctioning of his highly collectible boards to help fund their work.
Recently, Lee was given half a dozen tins of paint, a paintbrush and a ladder by Mambo, pointed toward the studio’s back wall and instructed to paint over the threats – written in blood, to the company’s accounts department. The resulting mural has become a destination for visiting art pilgrims.
Growing up, the only cure for Bree’s paralyzing shyness and separation anxiety was to unclench her iron grasp from her mums legs and place a paint brush in her little hand. Since then, she’s ditched the plastic paint smock and refined her technique. Whilst Bree no longer suffers from crippling shyness, her work is unquestionably inspired by the internalized self.
Bree’s interest in the mind lead her to complete a bachelors degree in Psychological Science. when she isn’t overcoming her irrational fears by performing exposure therapy on herself, you’ll find her trawling the internet and books for inspiration from the fashion world and picking apart symbols from popular culture trends.
After entering the world of primary school with a multitude of colouring in victories, Edwina started drawing Disney characters on demand. As her love for drawing grew, she tucked a nice Bachelor of Design from COFA under her girdle and turned to commercial art. Once her benevolent dictator told her how bloody good she was at illustrating she tied her shoelaces tight and entered the dark realms of an artistic career.
She came to Mambo through the hot, sweaty springs and threw down some prints and yardages that went on to grace Mambo Goddesses Barbara Palvin and Ash Hart. Since then, she’s continued to load up a resume stocked full of clients and labels like Mambo, Hurley, Volcom and plenty others.
Awakening from the sleepy town of Forster, Julie came to Sydney with a waitress pad full of drawings intertwined with customer orders and a hospitality partnership with already established Mambo artist Lee McConnell.
After living in a caravan in the heart of Bondi while briefly doing a Diploma of Commercial Arts at CATC design college back in 2011, she thought she’d get a round the world trip under her belt before joining the workforce in 2012 as Mambo’s newest intern.
Since then she’s established the position of full-time ‘chameleon,’ working across all different categories from managing sleepwear, socks, underwear, and contributing to a dense range of events like Parched March and Celebrity apprentice.