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Unlocking Creativity: Exploring the World of Greg Mike

Welcome to our interview series showcasing exceptional artists from across the globe. Today, we are delighted to have a conversation with Greg Mike, a contemporary artist renowned for his distinctive characters, vibrant street art, and captivating mural paintings. His iconic Loudmouf emblem, blending dynamic designs with pop culture, is emblematic of his style. Greg’s characters pulsate with life, evoking feelings of nostalgia and joy among viewers. His murals grace cities like Atlanta, Miami, and even the Swiss Alps, while his studio pieces adorn galleries and museums worldwide. Among his esteemed clients are Nike, Coca-Cola, and Facebook, and he has collaborated with musical talents like DeadMau5 and NGHTMRE. Notably, Greg Mike’s creations have found homes in the collections of Justin Bieber, Diplo, and Nina Dobrev, among others.

What inspired you to pursue a career in art, and how did your journey begin?

I’ve been in love with the arts for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I would hang out at my father’s shop as they built large pieces of scenery for Broadway shows. I would have to entertain myself with whatever I could find on the shop floor, which was mostly art supplies left over from the scenic artists and markers and pens from the folks in the drafting department. I’d spend hours on hours drawing on the wood scraps and cardboard while I watched the scenic painters paint massive backdrops for the Broadway plays. It was at that time I was super inspired by seeing people paint large formats. It blew my mind seeing them have a small sketch but then transfer it to a massive canvas through the grid system or working 20 feet in the air on scaffolding. I remember seeing shelves stacked with every color of paint imaginable, tons of brushes of all sizes and of course endless amounts of spray paint. Through my youth, I opted to take art classes after school versus playing sports. As I grew older I started skateboarding, reading comics, and watching cartoons. All these things influenced my style to this day.

Can you describe your artistic style in a few words, and what elements make it unique?

My artistic style is colorful, bold and surrealistic. I love using color to make my work LOUD and POP. My motto, “paint it like it’s printed” is a nod to my love and years of studying graphic design and digital work and painting as clean as possible. I have a few iconic characters like “LARRY LOUDMOUF” who appear in a lot of my work which represent a voice of our times as we’ve incorporated him into community projects.

How has being based in Atlanta influenced your artistic vision and approach?

Atlanta is a beautiful place and a city filled with so much opportunity. People in our city love the arts and really support it. This leads to tons of walls being painted, brand collaborations with our sporting teams, and commissions for new developments. I think having a supportive city has helped push my work forward at a rapid pace. 15 years ago I also started a contemporary art gallery called ABV GALLERY. In addition to showcasing my work, we work with over 250+ artists in the area and another 250+ artists from all over the globe. Our agency works with brands on creative projects like mural installations, collaborations, pop-up events, and more. Those ventures have opened up a lot of doors in Atlanta and globally which has helped spread the good word of what we do.

From your early days as a graffiti artist to your current projects, how has your art evolved?

For me as a youngster, graffiti was just all about “getting up”. How much could you paint in a short amount of time? This taught me about drive and work ethic. With graffiti, you’re doing it for yourself as there’s no commission or paycheck waiting at the end of the installation. It’s all about doing it for the love of painting outdoors. How big and fast can you paint and how good could you make it look? I think the element of speed and scale still remains when it comes to painting public murals. I’m always thinking, how can I go bigger, how can I make it louder, how can I paint it faster and beat my personal records. Getting more studio time has allowed me to take more risks to push my work forward. Graffiti at times is very repetitive when doing the same “tag” or “fill-in” over and over again. With my studio work and street art I try to make each piece unique and different and push it forward both stylistically or technically.

What drew you to street art, and what do you think sets it apart as a medium?

I think the world needs more color. Some see blank walls, I see blank canvases. I remember as a kid peering out the windows of the Metro North train heading into NYC and just being so in awe of the giant rollers that “COST and REVS” were painting on buildings on the side of the tracks. Just wondering how they did it, who they were, and why they were driven to paint outdoors. Once I started painting on the streets, I caught the bug and saw how addictive the rush was. It’s like mixing skydiving and art, so I was hooked the first night I went out. I think the pure scale and risk involved in graffiti sets it apart from traditional studio painting. People going out risking their lives on wild spots for some fame is like no other.

Your work often features vibrant colors and bold lines. What draws you to this aesthetic?

I think color in artwork creates a visual feeling of happiness. Adding color to the streets can inspire people’s days. When you’re in your car on the way to work and a giant mural on the side of the road jumps out at you it can really influence your mood. Seeing all the vintage cartoons and graphics on skateboards growing up all inspired my work over the years. I love researching everything from vintage type, patterns, color stories, cartoons, graphic design and putting my twist on them when incorporating them into my work. I love the surrealistic nature of Dali and Escher’s work, the bold and pop styles of Warhol and characters from the retro Disney cartoons. Mix all this together along with everything I see on the daily and during my travels and my style comes to life.

Can you walk us through your creative process, from conception to completion?

Usually it starts with browsing through old comics I’ve collected off eBay, then doing some online research on vintage iconography, then sketching on the iPad Pro. It’ll start with a super rough sketch using the pencil tool in the program then dropping the opacity down and coming back on top with some clean and bold outlines. Once I have a design I am happy with, I’ll do some research on color palettes to find something that conveys the mood I am trying to capture. After I begin the color and the design is complete, I’ll mix colors in the lab or find spray paint to match the color. At that point, I’ll then transfer the design to a canvas or large wall. From there it’s the fun part, bringing it all to life. Some canvases take days, some walls take weeks. During that process it’s a lot of photographing the work during the progress and making edits digitally before doing it on the actual piece. I’ll work at it till I am happy or feel satisfied. Then final photos, share online, and on to the next one!

Finally, what is the one thing that no one knows about you?

I have an extreme fear of heights but still need to go up on massive boom lifts. I just try to not look down.

Greg Mike‘s Bio:

Greg Mike is a contemporary artist known for his signature characters, bold street art, mural
paintings, and Loudmouf icon that blends colorful designs with pop culture. His iconic characters exude energy and movement and inspire viewers to feel a sense of nostalgia and happiness.
He has painted murals in Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and the Swiss Alps. His studio work is on view in galleries and museums around the world. Some notable clients include Nike, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Google, Spotify, BMW, and the Atlanta Braves, and collaborators include DeadMau5, NGHTMRE, and Big Gigantic. Additionally, Greg Mike’s work has been collected by Justin Bieber, Diplo, Scooter Braun, Swizz Beats, and Nina Dobrev.

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