Phil Ramskill is a local designer and illustrator primarily known for his work with Gold Coast larrikins The Mad Hueys. Recently, local clothing brand The Undercurrent recruited Phil aka Philustrations to design a cap representing our sunny city.
We sat down for a chat with Phil about his cruisy style and the local good vibes that influenced his design.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been on the Gold Coast for 14 years, moving here at the age of 14 from New Zealand. I was born in England and moved to New Zealand when I was five.
How does our city influence your art?
I’m influenced by the vibes and feelings I absorb subconsciously. As my style develops, the feel good sunshine beach vibes of the Gold Coast make their way into my art more and more.
You recently designed a cap for local brand The Undercurrent, why did you include the elements you did?
I got tasked with creating a design representing the entire Gold Coast. I decided to develop a graphic to display the general feeling and vibe of the Coast and included a smooth go with the flow style font that just says “GOLD COAST”. The ‘C’ in the word COAST is a dolphin which I included for a couple of reasons, the obvious one being we see dolphins along our shores all year round. The second is because dolphins are often displayed as symbols of paradise and I wanted this design to feel very much like a depiction of paradise. We are a Coastal town famous for our beaches, and I’m sure most of us have hobbies that include our beaches, so this was a must for this design. I did it in a way to give off the feel good holiday/paradise vibe.
I’ve included a cool smiling sun beaming out over the whole design too. Our town is known well for our usually fantastic weather, and we flourish on a sunny day. They bring everyone out to the beach and setting the town alive.
People’s artistic creations are always so unique to them and their experiences, how would you describe your style?
I’m a fairly ‘fun’, driven person, always just doing what I think will be enjoyable and looking for the next fun thing to do. I like to have fun with my work, not take it too seriously and I just let that flow into my art. I have worked almost exclusively as a men’s apparel designer through my career so I have developed a very bold, easy to view kind of style with a masculine edge to appeal to guys.
Has your style evolved over time and have there been any particular times in your life that have influenced the art you create?
Definitely, my style began as almost a straight up artist. I had no composition or design integrity. I just used to want to draw pictures and slap them on t-shirts. I have been able to see the sales results to each design I have created and then used that information to develop my style into what you see today. I am by no means perfect and still learn new things everyday! The journey of an artist never ends. I think as time goes by different periods in our life do influence our art. I feel like as I progress as an artist, I am chasing new challenges which pushes me to develop and change my art.
You’ve done quite a lot of work with The Mad Hueys, how did that come about?
I managed to get my foot in the door fairly early with The Mad Hueys, doing freelance designs for a couple of years before they were ready to take on a full-time tee designer. I had a friend on the inside who had seen the work I had previously done for other men’s apparel brands, so he got me onboard! Nearly three years ago now I became a full-time Huey and have been loving designing for them ever since.
Is there a piece of art you’ve created that you particularly love?
Yes, there is one in particular. When I first began at The Mad Hueys, they did a collaboration with a surfboard company called Catch Surf. They told me to do the most colourful craziest design I could come up with. I got a couple of weeks to just work on this, so I loaded up on surf graphic inspiration and then developed an electric neon Skeleton captain doing a shoey with a octopus in his pocket and steering a ship haha.
What’s the journey you’ve taken to get to where you are now?
I started my journey doing a two year diploma of graphic design at Ashmore Tafe when I was 21. I had an absolute blast and realised I had made the best decision ever and I would be a graphic designer forever. It took me a while to get a job but my illustration skills is what launched me into my first job. I was taken on by a company that developed Tapout Australia and Dickies Australia, so straight off the bat I had some cool companies on my resume. I then joined the team at Jetpilot where I learnt tons and feel like I developed a lot as a designer. I was only there for a year but it was a turning point. I went straight from Jetpilot to The Mad Hueys, which is where I am now. I just enjoy what I do, so I do it day and night!
What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
My Mum has always guided me with the best life advice “Just do what makes you happy”. She never pressured me to get a high paying job or pursuing things that I wasn’t interested in. She only ever encouraged me to do what makes me happy and thats exactly what I do! And in doing so, I’ve been able to create a career based on what I love doing. Which I think is the key foundation of being successful.
Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Beach: Burleigh, its my home beach!
Café: Social Espresso. They provide me with my much-needed coffee every morning.
Restaurant: Ze Pickle goes down a treat every-time.
How does your weekend usually look? My weekends can vary from busy doing work to being outdoors and enjoying nature in and out of the ocean or at some event getting wild. One thing that is consistent is that I’ll always be enjoying a cafe breakfast and a nice restaurant meal at some point on the weekend!
Ah, Surfers Paradise. The jewel in the crown that is our fair city. The place visitors first picture in their minds and have done for the last several decades. While it is the most tourist-dense part of our Coast, what is it local’s love about it? Here we fill you in on the six best reasons locals love Surfers Paradise.
Belt out karaoke at Tune Up
The definition of karaoke, Tune Up is THE place to test out your vocal cords after you’ve had a few cocktails at bar instution The Avenue or a few schooners of ale from House of Brews. It’s an intimate environment that feels much like a house party where you can choose to mingle with everyone in the main bar or take up residence in your own little private room and sing your heart out. Count us in!
Where: Level 1, 23 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise (above Gold Coast Real Estate)
Have a Guinness at the D’Arcy Arms
Wet your whistle with a pint of Guinness at D’Arcy Arms where the historic first Guinness keg was brewed in Queensland (and arguably Australia), tapped onsite in 1988. This locals’ Irish pub fave offers a welcome change of pace if you want to take things slow, keep warm by the fireplace or if last night happened to get the better of you. There’s always great home-style food to be had, live music and a few friendly faces with some good craic.
Where: 2923 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise
Have a luxe afternoon at Surfers Pavilion
Aptly positioned with ceaseless waterfront views and boasting a substantial mooring site of 400sq metres, means if locals would like to arrive GC-style by boat or jet ski — so be it! Setting and glam aside though, the new arrival is perfect for enjoying our fantastic year-round weather with an outside frosé bar, and for those with a discerning palette, a dedicated oyster and Champagne station keeps the crowd more than occupied.
Where: 30-34 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Hit 9 pins at Strike Bowling
Prepare to lose a few hours when you step into this space which is a literal smorgasbord of entertaining activities and feast for the senses. The highlight is the 10-lane glow in the dark bowling alley where competitive urges can be settled with groups big and small. But, it doesn’t stop there either. If you fancy further fun, then a 15-person karaoke room, cocktail bar, two escape rooms, and pool tables should do it.
Where: Circle on Cavill, Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Sip cocktails on The Island Rooftop Bar
Rooftop bars are one of the greatest things that ever happened to the Gold Coast. Period. Now, take this sentiment and couple it with this — the Gold Coast’s largest open-air rooftop bar — and voila, you have one of the best places to drink delectable cocktails, watch live music, and live your best life at the stream of ever-changing events (drag queen brunch anyone?). You are promised great times and vibes when you head to The Island.
Where: 3128 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Grab breaky at Cuppa on 41
If you find yourself in Surfers Paradise before the afternoon, then you need to head to Cuppa on 41 to energise yourself for the day — as well as for all the other inclusions on this list! The café is an excellent concept that allows local underprivileged youth to become experienced in hospitality, and coincidentally isn’t so hard on your pocket either! Our pick is the Bauernomelett, a German-style omelette straight out of heaven. You’ll leave with a satisfied belly and knowing you have contributed to a change in a Gold Coasters future.
Where: 41 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Indulge at Alfrescos Italian Restaurant
Creating picture-perfect pasta and pizza for the last 25 years, you might say what Alfrescos doesn’t know about Italian food and ambience isn’t worth knowing — and you’d be right! This charming family-owned and run restaurant has stood the test of time with locals and continually returning for great Italian classics and drinks to match. If you haven’t been in a little while, be sure to change that, the venue underwent a slight facelift late last year and is looking as enchanting as ever.
Where: 3/3018 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Boogie on down at Retro’s
When it comes to having a boogie along to cheeky tunes of yesteryear, you no longer have to hide in your bathroom in your towel to do so. All the locals know that Retro’s is the ultimate answer to having a fun night out and dancing the night away to the music you grew up with. With themed nights and drinks specials coming at you from all angles, you are destined to have a good time no matter what day of the week it is at this hotbed of a disco.
Where: 3 — 15 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Take in the view at Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club
After a swish refurbishment, this 100-year-old surf club is the faultless place to go for an ice-cold beer for a spot of people watching, seamless views across the Pacific Ocean and to chat to a local. The family-friendly atmosphere is full of locals after their early morning beach walk tucking into a big brekky (but they’re also open for lunch and dinner too!) — a great option straight off the sand and when you feel the need to escape the crowds with some uber-friendly Queensland hospitality.
where: Corner of Hanlan Street & The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
Alright Alright Alright (with your best McConaughey impression please).
Mermaid Beach is takin’ it back to the old school with the new bar Apres Surf!
Although owners James and Richard have told us there is no theme at Apres Surf, just good food, good music and good times, we got a total 70’s vibe.
Walking past the giant David Bowie (R.I.P) mural on the front patio, I had a feeling that like Bowie, this place was going to rock!
Correct! Vintage decor, laid back staff and a ridiculously tasty fish burger to make you feel right at home.
I walked in to Apres Surf and the first thing I thought was, YES, BARSTOOLS! As I made my way over the checkered floor and past the vintage art hanging on timber panelled walls, I was happy to plop down on a barstool. Only a small handful of bar/restaurants on the coast give me that “at home” feeling where I would feel totally comfortable bellying up to the bar, alone. Apres is one of those bars. It’s cozy and gives off good vibes. Just your friendly neighbourhood bar thats always got a cold drink and a good meal.
Speaking of cold drinks and good meals, lets get to the good stuff.
I had their drink special, THE Apple Crumble Martini. Talk about a 2-for-1! This baby tasted exactly like a delicious apple crumble made with love by your mum, but had vanilla vodka in it 😉 Maybe I should call it a 3-for-1 because there is no way you would want to order a dessert instead of this. I mean, I’m sure the dessert is great, but that Martini……ooooh I’m in love!
As it was, I had “dessert” before my meal…I’m an adult I can do that 🙂 So after my martini, came Mini Cheese Kransy Dagwood dogs. Similar to a corn dog, tiny weenies were battered, fried and put on a stick.
These little dogs were divine! The outside was drizzled in smoky homemade tomato sauce, from there you bit into the soft, yet crunchy batter, then POP, the skin to the dog was crispy and the inside was juicy! Somewhere in the mix was the cheese hugging all those flavours together. Little bits of heaven on a stick! Can I have these every day?!
For my main I was served the Asahi Beer Battered Cod Burger. Big ole bun slathered with citrus mayo, coleslaw and tomato topped with a cod fillet that was so large it spilled over the sides of the bun. The cod was hot and crunchy on the outside and flaky on the inside, the coleslaw was cool and chunky, and the citrus mayo bun perfectly wrapped it all together. This monster two-hander burger is one that you cant pass up! It was accompanied by chips flavoured with “secret seasoning” I tried to guess what was on them, but couldn’t get it. You’ll just have to try these for yourself to understand.
At Apres Surf it’s impossible to pick a favourite dish, quality and deliciousness run through everything! Good vibes and good eats are plenty! Head over ASAP and give it a try, I cant recommend it enough!
The Gold Coast’s newest label The Undercurrent is a brand with a mission, a Gold Coast one. Created to showcase our amazing city through art on something accessible to everyone, t-shirts.
The brand’s name is both a nod to the Coast’s thriving surf culture and the side of the city locals keep hidden.
Through her extensive travels proud Gold Coaster and brand creator, Carly Snodgrass, often came across t-shirts locally designed and capturing the essence of each particular city.
She quickly realised that although the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations, drawing visitors from across the world due to its beautiful golden beaches, thriving nightlife and of course, abundant theme parks, it is also a culturally diverse city with a whole lot more to offer.
And this is the side that should be shown to the world.
Enter the artists. Carly commissioned five local artists – Claudio Kirac, Kiel Tillman, Sarah Beetson, Eric Koo and Byron Coathup – to illustrate their interpretation of the Gold Coast suburb in which they live.
Currumbin, Burleigh Heads, Coolangatta, Surfers Paradise and Mermaid Beach are the suburbs currently represented with more to be added at a later date.
The Undercurrent’s purpose is to work with those who share their passion for the city’s unique culture and offer them the opportunity to create projects on their home turf.
$2 from every purchase will be donated to Surf Lifesaving Queensland who were specifically chosen by The Undercurrent due to the huge part they play in both assisting tourists and the vital role in shaping our city’s culture.
Since 1930 Surf Life Saving Queensland’s mission has been to protect the lives of the millions of people visiting our beaches every year and The Undercurrent wishes to support them in continuing their fantastic work.
The Undercurrent will officially launch online April 1st and you can catch them at The Village Markets this Sunday the 2nd of April from 8.30am to 1pm.
Words by Kirra Smith.