The Black Mamba ブラックマンバ
On the 23rd of August 1978, Kobe Bryant, a.k.a The Black Mamba was born.

Work / Illustration

Art, Asia and basketball: illustrator Andrew Archer’s series Edo-Ball

Andrew Archer’s hyper-coloured illustrations have scored the Auckland-born, Melbourne-based illustrator, art director and designer a blockbuster list of clients across advertising, music, editorial and sports, among them Nike, Fiat, BBC, Adidas, Sony Music, Fox Sports and Bloomberg. Blending woodblocks with acid trips, Andrew’s work treads the line line between intensely chaotic and visually captivating.

Andrew’s series Edo-Ball began back in 2013 with two artworks which folded together three of the illustrator’s “true passions”: basketball, art and Asia. “I felt that they went together perfectly stylistically and also related a lot to the modern youth and cultures,” he says.

“I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and grew up playing pick up basketball at the local courts,” Andrew told us by way of explanation. “Basketball has given me so much and led me to my love of culture and art. Every time we played at the street ball court I would look around and see so many people playing from every background imaginable. We all were from different religions, countries and often spoke different languages but always came together for the love of the game.”

“I moved to Asia in my mid twenties for three years and the situation never changed. I played pick up basketball with people all over Asia. On rooftops in Hong Kong, under bridges in Bangkok and on cracked courts in the middle of Cambodia. Often I couldn’t speak a word of the local language but the people always welcomed you to the game. It was like family no matter where you went.”

The two initial artworks, titled The Rock and The Ghost became “incredibly popular” with the basketball and Japanese culture communities. “After multiple project collaborations with basketball brands based on the two popular artworks, I decided in mid-2016 to revisit the series,” Andrew says. “They had always been on my mind and my passion for the game and culture was forever growing. Over the last 12 months I have patiently crafted eight new original artworks to accompany the original two artworks. Each artwork has a story behind it. Some are based on Japanese mythology and culture, others are narratives based on players nick-names and some are created from popular sayings from the game of basketball.”

“The interest in the project has been huge and I’m very appreciative of all the support,” the illustrator adds. “I’m wanting to continue the series after the NBA season ends and introduce the audience and fans of the work into the creation of future artworks. I’m still brain-storming as to how, but I have some nice ideas this far.”

Take a closer look at the illustrations and their meanings, below.


The Bunny ウサギ
Bunnies, hops, ups or just jumping. Every ball player wants as much bunnies as possible, the higher you can jump the greater the dunk.


The Object of Desire 欲望の対象
The one and only Object of Desire, the basketball. The sleepless nights after a bad game, the summer afternoons with the squad at the park. Fans of the game are born with the desire to play, to compete and to be involved in the culture of the game.


The Ghost 幽霊
Yūrei is a faint spirit or also a ghost in the Japanese culture and religion. There are many different types of Yūrei, and they differ in many ways depending on the circumstances on their death.


The Klaw かぎつめ
Kawaii! And Kawhi Leonard, a.k.a The Klaw. A two way player for the San Antonio Spurs who is known for his defensive prowess.


The Reaper 死神 
Shinigami is the death reaper in the Japanese culture and religion and is responsible for inviting people to the underworld.


The Reign Man 雨人
Shawn Kemp, a.k.a The Reign Man was born November 26, 1969 and was one of the greatest high flyers of them all.


The Rock 岩
The Rock (a nickname for the basketball) is the centrepiece in the game of basketball. It lives, it gives, it takes away and the rock never lies.


The Sniper 狙撃手
We have all have played against a sniper, a long range shooter who camps on the three point line raining down shots from a distance.


The Splash Bros スプラッシュ兄弟
Steph Curry & Klay Thompson are The Splash Brothers, the starting PG & SG duo of the Golden State Warriors. The Splash Brothers nickname refers to the duo’s ability to “splash” the net with the ball, particularly on three-point shots.