The Critical Slide Society Winter 2017 collection

The Critical Slide Society (TCSS) is back for the Winter 2017 Southern Hemisphere and Summer 2017 Northern Hemisphere season with a bigger, better and wittier campaign and range than ever before called ‘Greetings From’.


Founded in 2009 in a sleepy seaside village on the Central Coast of NSW, TCSS was launched by a couple of surfers and artists, Jim Mitchell and Sam Coombes. 

What started out as a hobby turned into the well-known, authentic, creative label that surfers around the globe love to wear. TCSS is more than just a clothing brand however, they are a platform that celebrates an emerging alternative movement within surf culture: working with artists, photographers, designers, filmmakers and surfers from across the world.

For Greetings From,  Mitchell and Coombes have collaborated with Indonesian artist Arswandaru Cahyo who has laid his signature, comic illustrations over each campaign shot - giving the campaign a unique take of their surf culture compared to their previous campaigns.

Greetings From has also once again utilised the lens skills of Hunter Thomson. Hunter is a prime example of what TCSS represents, he started out as an intern at the ripe age of 16 and has now shot their most recent campaigns thanks to his eye for capturing raw "moments between the moments”.

Winning Best Boardshort two years running, TCSS are up for the gong again this year.

Interview with Sam Coombes

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started TCSS
Back in 2000, Damien Fuller (The Board Collector) was an accessories designer at Mambo, he came into my uni and presented his design process. At the end of the presentation, he said, "And don't bother asking about internships or work experience... we don't do any." So after everyone left the room, of course I approached him about an internship or work experience. He flicked me Jonas Allen’s number (Mambo Art Director and now good friend) and for the next three months I called every Friday asking for an internship. Finally he gave in and I started a part time job at Mambo. I worked there until 2005. Across design, marketing and anything else I could get my hands on. I also met Jim Mitchell (my now business partner). I then took a slight career shift, working for MTV in a marketing role and later, becoming marketing director for their Australia/New Zealand branch. I worked at MTV until 2011.

"I started TCSS with my business partner Jim at the end of 2009. It was literally a weekend side project, a bit of fun. We did sink our life savings into it (which wasn’t too much) and got it to the point that it could no longer be run as a hobby. So in February 2011, we took the plunge and moved onto it full-time. The rest is history!"

-Sam Coombes

What’s different this season for Greetings From compared to your previous campaigns? 
It's a really fun collection. Super strong graphics and prints. Most of the graphics have actually been developed in-house by Shaun and Hopey. In terms of the campaign, it feels like a slight throwback to the kind of campaigns we used to run a few years ago, nothing too serious and a real focus on the graphic aesthetic.

Tell us a bit about your design process
For our most recently designed collection, Matt and I spent a week in LA, sifting through Rosebowl markets, visiting vintage stores. Much of what we do has a bit of a vintage reference – mainly 70s, 80s and 90s. We take some of those references and contemporise and update. The theme for the most recently designed collection is South of the Border. We thought this to be pretty topical, and basically referred to juxtaposition of cultures, as opposed to just a typical Californian take on South of the Border. There’s five of us in the office that throw the references and stories around, then they hit and we’re off designing. We’re really happy with the way the product is coming in. We’re all super proud. The creative campaign then ties back to the overall theme of the collection. 

Biggest inspirations? 
Geez, kind of suck stuff up from everywhere. For me personally guys like Shaun Stussy, Tom Sachs, Thomas Campbell, Geoff McFetridge. Music also plays a big part, The Growlers, The Strokes and the local scene that’s going on in Sydney influences our work. And the work being done by Shapers (who we work with), Dead Kooks, and Thomas Surfboards are all inspirations.

How did the collaboration with Arswandaru come about? 
We really like the guy. He would often send us graphics, or post stuff and tag us on social media. We liked the fact that he was keen to work with us, loved the brand and he wasn’t being used by everyone in industry. We have a good history of jumping on artists pretty early. We’ve worked with guys like Steven Harrington, Tyler Warren, Land Boys (Caleb Owen Everitt), Georgia Hill and more!

I heard that your photographer Hunter Thomson started out interning for you. Is working with future talents important to you as a brand? 
As mentioned, above, we love to be able to work with new talent. Hunter is 18! He’s turning into quite the photographer. He’s shot a number of our most recent campaigns. We love to work with new talent and build them up. To some extent this was the original premise of the brand, that’s where the society part of our naming comes in, it’s about forming a group of like-minded people. Hunter was shooting a bunch of the young surf kids up on the coast. Jim liked what he was doing and the rest is history. He literally just left today for a week long trip to Japan’s Greenroom Festival to shoot for us. He’s pretty excited about that. 

Describe TCSS in three words
Community, surfing, quality.

Mambo - ACID TROPIC Collection

“Mambo’s designs have always told a story through art and characters, this year will be no different.”

-Lee McConnell

One of Australia’s most iconic surf and art brand Mambo,  launches new season with LEE MCCONNELL at the helm.

Officially taking the role of Art Director at the start of the year, Lee is keeping the business focused on real artworks and bringing it back to its true heritage of art and music. Celebrating more than 30 years of artistic history and satirical designs, the brand shows no signs of slowing down with a number of creative collaborations in the pipeline. 

Announced for the second year in a row, Mambo returns as Splendour in the Grass’ major fashion sponsor, with plans to activate bigger, better and more immersive art installations. Lee will be leading the art direction, which will be based on the collection Paradise Psych in the prime position of the top of the amphitheatre. 

Above images: Life Without Andy

Last year McConnell, alongside other Mambo artists, designed the Screaming Guitar, which was a completely interactive five-metre-tall guitar with a 2m giant tongue for festival goers to slide down on. At night, the guitar’s eyes lit up as well as the neck flashing and flickering.  

These art installations represent the strong sense of creativity, artistic heritage and daring sense of humour Mambo is known and loved for. 

“Mambo’s designs have always told a story through art and characters, this year will be no different.” Lee explains. 


The fusion of music and art is a natural combination for Lee, and his style is a natural fit for the Mambo. All the art is hand drawn with a focus on line work and new art is created every season.

Alongside working with Mambo, Lee is also involved with a number of other creative endeavours, including his recent collaborative work with the Dune Rats album cover and tour posters as well as co directing a music festival, Grow Your Own, in partnership with friend and musician Holly Rankin (Jack River).

Go Suga - Time Traveller

As the winner of the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct’s mural competition in 2015, Go Suga’s art has been featured as both a bright and cheerful public art installation and at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace. With his upcoming solo exhibition, Time Traveller, we spoke with Go about his unique style and becoming a part of the Aussie art industry. 


Introduce yourself!
My name is Go Suga and I’m a Japan born / Australia bred artist who loves surfing, my wife, my pet dog Lui and vegemite. (I have two vegemite tattoos on my arm.)

How would you describe your art style?
I would describe it as mixture of few different styles. Symbolism, surrealism, cubism, even a little pop in there because of the colours. Not sure what to call it but I sure do like looking at different styles of art and picking a few things and adding it on to create my own style.

What materials do you use to create your pieces and can you talk us through your artistic process?
I used to use posca pens for my paintings but for this new line of work, which I prepared for my upcoming show at 19 Karen, [I used] acrylic on board. It was my first time using a paintbrush and it was really fun! Self-teaching is the best way to go when it comes to art I think. Once you learn from an art class or a teacher you kinda lose that fun part when you find something new out by trying it all alone by yourself. That’s the fun part of art I think, experimenting and finding out something new that excites you. Also it’s kinda boring when technique determines the outcome. By self-teaching you develop techniques and styles that is unique to yourself. At the moment my process would go something like this:

  1. Surf (this is important as it gives me happy vibes which comes out as colours on canvas!)
  2. Figure out what I want to paint or keep note of whatever good idea comes to mind.
  3. Surf
  4. Do some sketches and from these sketches choose the one I want to paint.
  5. Go buy board from Bunnings
  6. Surf
  7. Prepare board with 2-3 layers of gesso.
  8. Draw outline of the painting with pencil
  9. Start painting.
  10. Create whatever colour I like to use at the time and keep it in a small jar for future use.
  11. Surf.
  12. Once finished I get it framed and all done!

"I definitely want people to feel happiness and peace through my art and that is the reason why I use these bright colours but the meaning behind these paintings often involves destruction, pollution and violence."

-Go Suga

How did you become involved with 19 Karen?
I started painting seriously to get into an art gallery about three years ago. I created my own style and made about 8-10 paintings. I found 19 Karen and immediately wanted to join the gallery as they had so many awesome international and local artists. I emailed them and got a reply back from the gallery owner. She told me not to get my hopes up high but she wanted to take a closer look at my work. So I went and showed it to her and she liked it! I couldn’t really believe it, it was the happiest day of my life! Here I was just a guy with no experience in art (other than my diploma in graphic design) now represented in a professional gallery with artists that have lists of exhibition shows and award winning achievements.

What messages do you try to convey through the bright and happy colours of your art?
I definitely want people to feel happiness and peace through my art and that is the reason why I use these bright colours but the meaning behind these paintings often involves destruction, pollution and violence. I’m really liking my art at the moment because of this 'gap' between the real meaning behind the art and what’s on the surface.

You describe your work as a “mystical seamless blending of cultures,” what elements of Japan and the Gold Coast do you place in your art?
I think bright colours, sun and water elements in my paintings come from Australia and surf culture for sure. I also love ancient mythologies, no matter which country and region it’s from I get fascinated by these ancient stories. Greek mythology gods and goddess appear in my paintings a lot. These human made gods have inspired me to create my own original god characters in my paintings as well. I often use Japanese words for the title of paintings but I’m not sure if there are any other Japanese culture elements left in my work. I have definitely been inspired and affected by Japanese manga comics when I was a kid but I don’t try to put it into my art with the style I’m working on at the moment.

Which achievements are you most proud of and why?
I won first place in the Gold Coast City Council’s cultural precinct fence mural competition two years ago. I’m most proud of this because I finally had a chance to contribute back to the city that looked after me through the good and bad times since I moved to this country. To be able to do this with art was my greatest achievement so far. If there’s another chance I would like to do something for this city in the future with my art.

What is difficult about being an artist in Australia?
I’m not too sure... I can only think of all the good things. I’m only a rookie in the art industry so I can’t say much but I feel we have a really healthy art culture in Australia. For example, in Japan somebody like myself who’s not an art college graduate or has no connections would have no chance of getting into a professional art gallery, but over here you have a chance as long as you can create something unique and interesting. I truly believe the art industry should be open minded and the Australian art industry so far has been just that.

What inspires your art?
I get inspired by lot of things. Surf, nature, ancient mythologies, conspiracy theories, movies, music, pictures, patterns, well known artist’s works, not so well known artist’s works and the list goes on. Often when I sketch something interesting comes out so sometimes the best way to start your creative process is to do a few sketches, even if you don’t seem to have any inspirations. Something will come out and you will find maybe not the whole sketch interesting but some part of it, and you keep that section and add other stuff onto it. In this case, you get inspired by your own creation.

What can we expect from your solo exhibition?
You can expect colours, shapes and peaceful vibes! Also each of my paintings has a storyline which leads from one painting to another so that’s something you can read at the show to see the meaning behind my paintings. It should be a fun night!

What is your next artistic adventure?
I have a few things planned this year, one of them will be on the Gold Coast but I can’t mention it until closer to the date and also maybe another in China. My dream is to do a solo show in one of the major cities like NYC, Paris, London or Tokyo so I will be adventuring until I get to one of these places! I also like to try different styles and mediums, maybe even sculpting! Not sure right now but whatever comes to mind I guess. I won’t do it unless I really want to do it. I tend to get bored by things easily so it won’t take much time for me to start exploring other creative stuff or styles of painting.

You can catch Go Suga's opening solo show 'Time Traveller' this Saturday night May 6th at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast.


BAD ACID is a group show featuring artists Alex Lehours, Lé Grizz, Lee McConnell, Mike Watt and Sindy Sinn. Each artist explores the mind melting theme to create an original, acid-laced body of work that features five new pieces on paper (all framed). Make sure you drop a tab or your own BAD ACID before you hit the town on opening night, to reep the full effect from this tripped out exhibition. Full event deets underneath this post:





Opening night: Friday the 5th of May at 6pm. 
Alpha Gallery: 226 Union St, Newtown (behind the Union Hotel). 
Sponsored by: Young Henry's and 42Below Vodka.
Photography & Video: Billy Zammit

Stalk the artists: 
@alexlehours -
@leemcconnell -
@mike___watt -
@ohmygrizz -
@sindysinn -