History

Aquabumps was forged outta one man’s passion for the ocean, waves, surfing and photography. Aquabumps loves all things beach. Eugene Tan (::uge) is the little fanatical half chonga that kicked it all off back in the 90’s…a purely original concept to take photos of the beach – daily. Crazy right? Was back then.

Well imagine the internet without social media…without google…without anything interesting. Well. That’s when Aquabumps was born and the only way to share you pics was through spamming ya mates with emails. In those days you only got 5 emails per day.

If you love the beach or just photography… we reckon you’re our type of person.
Here is how it all went down…

July 1974

A highly energetic beach grommet is born, Eugene Tan (AKA :: Uge).

Circa 1983

:: Uge purchases an 110 Kodak Instamatic 60 film camera at a garage sale for 2 bucks. He documents everything in his path to his parent’s dismay. Processing film costs were covered by returning empty glass bottles to the local store for 10 cents a pop. OK, a couple of notes also went missing from his Mum’s purse.

1989-1991

::Uge not quite the conscientious school kid wags classes…hides in the school darkroom. :: uge teaches himself how to process black and white prints and shoots on mates borrowed Pentax Asahi (thanks, Gilesy) with 50mm (film) in the schoolyard. The yard was documented, all fruit fights, pile ons and the odd portrait. :: uge is self-taught at taking photos. He was just drawn to it naturally.

1991

:: Uge finishes school. :: uge is inspired by the Macintosh computer and joins a computer design course for Graphic design. The light turns on. Match made in heaven. The little geek salivated over this Macintosh home computer and entered the world of computer graphic design – working for big digi agencies working on big websites like Holden.com, Clayton Utz.com and internet banking for ANZ. He worked his way up to Creative Director Title (which just meant sitting in meetings all day long – YAWN). :: uge got bored, but stuck it out for nearly a decade learning a lot.

March 1999

A frustrated Creative Director at a digital agency with a soft spot for photography (::uge) started emailing mates pics of the beaches of Sydney – just randomly. The mates frothed and demanded more. The daily photo email is born. It grew fast. Email addresses poured in begging for a 2 minute photo holiday escape from the beach.

April 2002

The daily email hits 10,000 plus eyeballs a day. (helluva a lot back then). Readers start asking to buy prints from the daily mail – what a hassle :: uge thought! Setup an online purchasing system with some geeks at work. People buy. It ticks over.

November 2002

:: Uge discovers metallic prints at Photoking. OH LORDY, this changes EVERYTHING. The new media makes images POP and print sales grow steadily. :: Uge is a metallic print junkie. Being one of the first to adopt this paper due to is pricey cost – :: uge becomes well known for his bright, glossy metally looking 3dish prints. Everything is printed in metallic and then :: uge worked out this works well behind acrylic. NO ONE is doing this technique back then. Uge froths more and more and develops his own look to his prints. People buy and like. A style of artwork presentation is born.

July 2003

The daily email thing is given a name – Aquabumps…as in bumps in the ocean which is waves. It was nearly called Uge Waves and other dumb suggestions as it wasn’t really a serious thing. Just needed the .com!

March 2004

:: Uge quits full time design job in city to fiddle with his passion, Aquabumps. No money, no idea how…just a passion infused decision. :: uge lives below the poverty line but is happy cause no more schlepping into the big bad city! (and more time on the beach)

June 2004

Local Bondi resident Marty Simo calls ::uge and offers him a tiny retail space on Brighton Boulevarde North Bondi for $450 per week. 25 square metres of Bondi joy with NO foot traffic. :: uge reluctantly takes it. No money and no idea ::uge convinces local tradies to work on fitout (mostly for free and for beer). Total fitout cost, around $4,000. Shop opens 2 months after taking lease (big party)…people buy, phew. :: uge can eat again. Bank account $12.15 at time of launch party.

September 2004

Travel starts. First Bali, then Mentawais, then Tahiti, then Fiji…oh boy, a lot of travel has happened since then. On average 30 flights a year. Needless to say, the sign on the gallery door “Gone shooting” was on a lot! Aquabumps had to employ someone to help out with all the travelling – Mikala Wilbow – the 1st full time employee!

2004 – 2006

New employees! Gloria Tong, Christian Rodriguez, Aimee….and plenty others. A real business kicks off with real adult responsibilities and payroll.

December 2006

A blonde bombshell struts into the gallery and offers half price for the largest artwork. She’s fancy, dressed to the nines with a luscious leather Fendi handbag slung over her shoulder. She works at Harper’s Bazaar and loves the beach. Love at first sight. Debbie Baker (now Debbie Tan) snags a big artwork and the photographer. Uge and Debbie hook up and get married. Debbie is now an integral part of the family Aquabumps business managing all commercial deals and public relations (so Uge can concentrate on shooting and blogging). Debbie’s experience in advertising and PR brings a fresh energy to Aquabumps, taking it to the next level.

January 2008

:: Uge starts experimenting with aerial photography and develops a new style which would later become his signature. “Lone Swimmer” is shot on the first flight and to this day is his most popular image globally.

August 2008

Aquabumps hosts a massive stand at the Art Sydney Expo (used to be called the affordable Art Show) . Peope discover Aquabumps and buy into the Beach loving theme.

December 2009

Needing more space and more customers Aquabumps branches out and moves in the salubrious ex mechanics yard on 151 Curlewis Street Bondi Beach. The place is a wreck but it came up trumps after major renovations. 200sqm of gallery heaven. It’s the new base for AB… Since then it employs 9 people.

April 2011

Jet Wolfie Tan was born – Uge and Deb’s 1st son. This little ripper will hopefully take over the empire one day. No pressure.

August 2011

Aquabumps collaborates with iconic swimwear brand SPEEDO which also originated from Bondi Beach. This becomes and annual swimwear and board short range and continues for 6 seasons.

November 2011

The first book is launched “A Day at Bondi” and 7,000 copies are sold overnight. It also wins the coveted 2011 AIPP APPA Best Photography Book for 2011 Award. Copies of the book are shipped all over the globe. http://www.aquabumps.com/book

April 2012

Epic roadie around New Zealand in some fancy Land Rovers.

March 2012

Aquabumps launches an exhibition in Singapore at the beachside Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa. It’s a roaring success and total sell out.

August 2012

Partnering with Peroni beer Aquabumps produces a series of short films from Italy call Peroni Moments.

May 2013

:: uge speaks at the Sydney Opera House for the FR Magazine Bespoke luxury summit in front of 2,000 people. Uge didn’t sleep for weeks thinking about talking to that many people in one room.

Link

August 2013

Tyson Millar joins Aquabumps. He’s now the main man of the gallery. Mr. Big Cheese Gallery manager. To this day he keeps Aquabumps grounded and under control whilst Uge fiddles with cameras and pretends to look busy.

September 2013

Andrea Shilling, a USA backpacker from NYC stumbles across Aquabumps from the bar across the road. Aquabumps felt sorry for her and gave her a job. She’s now head of production and runs a small team printing in-house and managing 15 framers. She even got a green card now and a semi-normal accent!

April 2014

Aquabumps partners with iconic beach footwear brand Havaianas (play video) http://www.aquabumps.com/2013/11/04/aquabumps-havaianas-thongs/

October 2013

Spike Ziggy Tan is born, the Tan’s second son. This ball of fun and cheek rolled into the world and was taken straight to the beach on his first week of life. He’s more interested in moto cross than the beach right now, but we’re sure he’ll come around.

November 2013

Off the success of Aquabumps book 1 “A Day at Bondi” the 2nd book was released, “Beach Blog”. This mammoth book is a work of art. No expense spared…this is the book of books…the mutha lode. http://www.aquabumps.com/thebeachblog this is the book that covers the journey of Aquabumps and showcases 14 years of solid photography all over the globe.

May 2014

Real Living do a feature on the Aquabumps Head Quarters – who thought a greasy mechanics yard could look so clean and white!

October 2014

Launch Pop up exhibition in custom made Aquabumps display system at Westfield Bondi Junction (seen by 45,000 people a week). Exhibition was up until early December. Lots of people saw it. Did you?

Gemma joins the Aquabumps sales team ahead of our busy ‘15 summer.  Our bright-star and law student loves a brilliant colour palate, a seemingly great match for Uge’s sunrises.

November 2014

Aquabumps collaborates with the masters of rag, Bassike. Sold out in 1 week. Wow, what a brand to work with.

Link

January 2015

::Uge is invited to shoot a story for Vogue Australia under the styling guidance of Christine Centenera. Steph Gilmore, Laura Enever and Ellie Jean Coffee are the modelling talent. Helicopters, water cameras, 16 crew and a 17 hour day of hard work :: uge not keen on doing it again! Phew.

April 2015

They say you’ve made it when you’re on the cover of your local BEAST mag!

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May 2015

After exhaustive interviewing Rachel Dray is appointed as our key Sales Gun. Hailing from coastal Queensland, Rach as she’s affectionately known, makes Sydney home chooses to be immersed in the gallery of Uge’s work. Rach has a keen eye for aesthetic perfection, fashion and Friday night drinks.

September 2015

Aquabumps returns to Europe to shoot the Amalfi coast, Capri and the South of France.

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November 2015

Aquabumps collaborates with eyewear kings, Bailey Nelson to produce the Aquabumps range – another Bondi business that started at the local Bondi markets and is now global with 30 stores.

 

December 2015

A young northern NSW country girl  by the name of Cat steps off the plane from her temporary home of London and into the Aquabumps Sales Team. Cat brings to the team her boundless energy, Gunnedah-slang and fun-loving attitude to the Gallery team.

February 2016

Aquabumps hits the airport. Yes, under Heinemann retail Aquabumps goods are sold at the International departures terminal.

February 2016

1st trip to Rio! Oi!

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April 2016

Our production team of 1 is overwhelmed after a blistering summer of ’16 and Marnie joins the production team. Single-handily doubling the print team. A stickler for finer details and meticulous in her ways she fits us like the proverbial cotton print-glove.

July 2016

Our pop up exhibition made an appearance in both the Supa Centa in Moore Park and Westfield Miranda over a few months.

December 2016

Welcome to my 3rd book ‘The Bondi Book’. There was so much to show you that jamming it into 260 pages was nearly impossible. This is the Bondi I wake up to everyday. I love it and I hope you do too.

January 2017

The bubbly Billie Baker returns from a working holiday in London and joins our super sales team. This blonde ball of energy has a keen interest in photography and brings an infectious smile to the Aquabumps Gallery.

February 2017

We installed an enormous mack-daddy print of all prints in the Icebergs pool. It was 49 metres long by 13 metres wide. It took 3 utes to cart out to Bondi, 5 hours to install the 24 strips…all whilst Icebergs was having its pool cleaning day. Why? Why not. If you want to see the full story, watch this video now.

A huge thank you to Canon for making this dream project a reality. And special thanks to Santa Vittoria Mineral water for giving the exhibition an Italian authentico.

March 2017

We made some Aquabumps history by popping up in our very own store in the Rocks. Our pop up exhibition/retail space saw thousands of local and international visitors up until mid June.

October 2017

Our pop up gallery made an appearance in the Westfield Warringah Mall till the end of November, showing off our favourite Northern Beaches artwork.