I moved to Sydney mid 2011 for a new start and I was working with a mate painting houses, then my little bro sent me a text one day about Mambo looking for an intern so I gathered up what I had done and sent it to them. I got an interview and then got the internship. I was so stoked. I worked my arse off for 3 months and they gave me a job at the end which was pretty damn good. It was like going into a dream job.
Name: Lee McConnell
Occupation: Illustrator / Graphic Designer
Hometown: Forster, NSW
Current Location: Northern Beaches, Sydney
Lee grew up in Forster on the Mid North Coast of NSW. He has been drawing for as long as he can remember. Now working as an illustrator and graphic artist for Mambo along side some of his childhood heroes and inspirations. When he was a child Lee’s parents bought him a book called ‘Schnorky the Wave Puncher’ which contained illustrations by Jeff Raglus. Since starting working for Mambo he has created a tonne of graphics for clothing as well as had work on show for big event like the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro and the Mambo 30 years of Shelf Indulgence exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. He has also worked with the likes of Matt Biolos and Californian based Surfboard company ‘Lost’ seeing his art come to life in a collab they just released last spring. AR hung out with Lee at the Mambo offices in North Manly…
When I was a child I wanted to be… Batman
The mentors/heros in my life when I was growing up were… Reg Mombassa and Jeff Raglus were my two favourite artists growing up. I loved Reg’s work for his ideas and subject matter and his dry humour was something I could really relate too. Jeff’s work came in contact with me when my parents bought me Schnorky The Wave Puncher, a book that Jeff both illustrated and wrote, each page was an artwork and a good one at that. I fell in love with his style, it was colourful, happy and weird and I loved everything about it. I still have that book and it still inspires me. It has also been rad to have met both Reg and Jeff through work at Mambo. A couple of really nice nice guys. I’d also say my family, both my parents saw a talent in me at a young age and instead of pushing me to I guess get a real job they both pushed me into doing creative things and let me run free. It isn’t until now that I really have realised that my old man did play a big part in being creative I think that’s where I get it from. He had an eye for it, he travelled a lot when he was younger and took a lot of photos all of which are epic. We still have his slides at home and some of the best photos I have seen. He would paint also and just make things in general, shape his own boards too. Sadly he isn’t with us anymore, but I know he would be more than stoked with where I have worked hard to get in my life. He was a big Mambo fan too so I know he’d be loving that I am working with them now.
The studies I took to get where I am…I did art at school like a lot of people, but through my teenage years I didn’t do a lot of drawing or painting away from school there was a big gap when I didn’t do much at all. I then went to TAFE in Newcastle where I did a printing and graphics arts course for 6 months where I learnt a lot about the print side of design as well as learning more deeply how to work Illustrator and Photoshop. The year after I went back down and did a graphic design foundation course where I learnt even more. Then that was it. I kind of didn’t really need to go back after that I was planning too but I travelled for a year after and then just didn’t go back. I did a few odd jobs for friends like bands posters and stuff. Then I moved to Sydney mid 2011 for a new start and I was working with a mate painting houses, then my little bro sent me a text one day about Mambo looking for an intern so I gathered up what I had done at TAFE and a bunch of shit I had done for mates and other crap lying round and sent it to them. I got an interview and then got the internship. I was so stoked. I worked my arse off for 3 months and they gave me a job at the end which was pretty damn good. It was like going into a dream job.
I’m most creative when I’m… When the suns out. I love it when there is tonnes of light beaming through my window it gets me keen to create. I love painting in the backyard outside in the sun too.. No better place.
The tools I can’t live without… A pencil, a brush, and something to spill my ideas on.
I’m inspired by… The sun, the ocean, my family and mates. Music, good times, and a lot of laughing.
I’m currently reading… reading what I am writing ha. I actually haven’t read a book in a while which is kinda sad.. Can you suggest something?
The website I hang out on the most… Sadly, Netflix at the moment I have just gotten it and I don’t normally watch tv or movies but it has got me hooked. It is nice having David Attenborough on demand.
I’m currently listening to… Tame Impala – Currents
My favourite place in the world…Probably home.. Where I grew up it is probably the best place on earth haha.
I would like to travel… Probably Central and South America next for me. I am yet to go and all my mates keep raving so I think that is where I will next on my next trip.
My travel essentials are… I would have to say a camera is number one, I love capturing most moments on trips I go on. I love meeting locals and taking their photo and hearing their story it really makes it for me. Also good company is a must, I always need someone close to share it with.
One thing I would like to do but haven’t got around to it yet… probably start a sculpture. I have been really wanting to get back into sculpture. I haven’t done it since I was at school so that is something on my list to do and have apart of a future exhibition.
The obstacles that have come my way… realising there were no bananas in the fruit bowl this morning.
The highlights over the past 12 months have been… Having original art of mine on show at the Mambo 30 years exhibition at the NGV in Melbourne along side big dogs. That was pretty special.
The latest project I’m working on… I have started some new artworks for an exhibition I would like to have later in the year, hopefully, or early next year..
Advice I have to share for those who want to get into this profession… Work hard. Probably be willing to do a bit of work for free just to build up a portfolio and yeah just keep grinding, if you want something that bad you can have you just have to work for it.. Cliche but its true.
Do What You Want…when ya want!
Draw your current state of mind…
Photography: Katie Kaars
Interview: Michelle Owen