The folks over at CommonCreativ stopped by my studio to ask a few questions and snap some photos for a recent feature they released in their magazine. Below are the results.
In the past year, Atlanta is slowly becoming a creative haven for artists, no matter their style. Art walks and gallery hopping are quickly becoming popular, exposing its residents to the city's local talent.
Enter Greg Mike. He has show his work in galleries across the country and seen his art reach places as far as Egypt and Australia. But when he turned his eyes on Atlanta, he saw a void in the art scene.
"I was traveling a lot and I would go to these low-brow galleries in New York and Los Angeles and I kept thinking that Atlanta needed something like that. I wanted a place to showcase the art of local talent that's bringing something new to the art scene."
ABV Gallery and Agency celebrates its one year anniversary this month. One year of helping contemporary artists get noticed in an art scene that it's still in its infancy.
"Atlanta's art scene is definitely growing," he explains. "Especially in the last two to three years. Atlanta has had art, but it didn't have an outlet for the younger, contemporary street art, pop surrealism that we have a focus on."
As you scan Greg Mike's cylindrical sculptures around his gallery, you with notice the mouths. Giant and in various colors, they stare back at you with their crooked smiles and singular chipped tooth. You almost wish they could talk.
The chipped tooth, a common theme in all of his art, can be attributed to an accident Mike had when he was younger. The near fatal accident left him with a chipped tooth and giant appreciation for life.
"The tooth being chipped is a symbol of imperfection," he says. "When I was younger I almost died because I fell off a balcony. In the process, I chipped my tooth. It reminds me of how quickly everything can disappear and how short life is. It's a constant reminder to enjoy every minute because you can walk out of here and literally get hit by a bus."
With a background in graphic design and street art, Greg Mike prefers smooth surfaces to textures and wood to canvas. His studio walls are covered with sketches and ideas that will become prints or maybe one of his famous mad cans. So what inspires his work?
"Anything creative just inspires me," he says. "Everything gets absorbed by your brian and it comes out in your work through your sub-consious. Also, I have a lot of musician friends and I like seeing how they work and observing their creative process. It inspires me. How they try to better themselves each time to perfect their craft."
Like every creative person, rituals can emerge as part of the process. And for the gallery owner, music is an essential part of his routine. Not only is the rhythm his muse, but the journey behind it.
"I wear this awesome jumpsuit while I'm painting, it's kinda creepy," he laughs. "It's a mechanic's outfit. But when I have it on, I feel like it's my superman outfit, like Clark Kent when he goes into the booth. I try to stay away from my phone, turn up the music and try to zone out and leave Earth for a minute and get in the zone. I think that music is almost always the soundtrack to whatever I'm creating."
Atlanta's art scene is growing and with outlets like ABV Gallery + AGency, local artists are gaining exposure. With upcoming events like Drink and Doodle, where 12 artists have a draw-a-thon for an opportunity to sell their artwork at the gallery, the Loudmouth creator is giving a much-needed break to Atlanta artists.
When I asked Greg Mike what he would do if he wasn't one of Atlanta's emerging artists and owner of the Old Forth Ward space, ABV Gallery and Agency, I was surprised by he answer.
"If it all else fails, I would get a crappy apartment in Colorado and snowboard all day and work at the life, enjoying life," Mike says.