From a mural seen while driving on Atlanta’s Downtown Connector, to live art installations of 8-foot-by-40-foot murals during music festivals like Shaky Knees and Shaky Beats, to the exterior of a home covered with his “LOUD” cartoon-ish characters across from Ponce City Market, it’s simply hard to miss Greg Mike’s artwork in Atlanta today. There are even a few private commissions and installation for tech companies hidden not only in Atlanta, but an increasing number of sites across the country.
His work is inspired by an energetic and wild youth, mixed with anything from 90’s skateboard graphics to his involvement in the graffiti scene, to traveling out of his comfort zone or bringing international artists to Atlanta to collaborate with local talent through his own ABV Agency + Gallery on Auburn Avenue and mural project, OuterSpace Project.
“I admire the local artists and local collectors for their persistence in pushing the scene,” he says. “It’s a symbiotic relationship which need each other to properly grow. The artists who are fighting for their right to create work in the public space to the fans who choose to seek out the art, purchase it, photograph it or simply interact with it. We are not a NY or LA so it’s our duty as artists and collectors to support the arts if we want to make an impact and push ATL to new heights.”
Luckily for Atlanta, Greg Mike does just what his larger-than-life works do.
In three words, how would you describe your work?
Loud. Bold. Energetic.
How has your artwork endured, and how has it evolved?
My art is always evolving. As a working artist, you are constantly seeking growth whether that’s introducing new colors, new characters, new techniques or new materials.
Over the past few years, you’ve seen my work develop as I’ve started incorporating the grayscale realistic animals which contrast to the LOUD clean cartoonish characters and color patterns. Slow change over time keeps me inspired and creative. If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling back.
Where do you find inspiration for your projects?
My work is inspired by my energetic and wild youth mixed with my current life experiences. This could be anything from 90’s skateboard graphics, my involvement in the graffiti scene, graphic design, art history, conversations and more. I’m inspired by the greats such as Walt Disney, Dali, Warhol, Stella and Haring. I’m inspired by traveling, getting out of my comfort zone and seeing the world, diverse colors and landscapes. All this blends in to a mosaic in my mind which I tap into for creative juice.
What are some places in Atlanta—or beyond—where people might be surprised to find your work?
My work ranges from the streets to the museums. From murals seen on buildings while driving on Interstate 75/Interstate 85, to galleries like the one I own, all to museums like the High Museum of Art in Midtown. There are also a few private commissions and installation for tech companies hidden throughout the cities.
Of all the projects you’ve had a hand in, do you have a personal favorite?
That’s such a tough one to answer. That’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite. I love all projects in different ways for different reasons.
For example, the most recent mural on the side of Modera Midtown is the tallest and trickiest building I’ve painted. The building was six stories, and I had to hit it with a boom lift between two buildings. It was also a challenge facing my fear of heights to accomplish that one.
On the other hand, the painted “LOUDHAUS” is a favorite because of how the work contrasts to the neighboring homes. The live installations like the two 8-by-40-foot murals I created during Shaky Knees and Shaky Beats music festivals were a also favorite due to the pure energy and connections I am able to experience with fans onsite.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of what we’ve been able to do for arts community in the city. Starting with ABV Gallery, bringing in hundreds of urban contemporary artists from all over the globe to show work in our space. Supporting and help growing local artists's careers in the city and providing them opportunities at projects in Art Basel Miami, music festivals and collaboration projects. OuterSpace Project has curated and produced over 50-plus murals throughout the city in 3 years working both international and local talent. I’m most proud of the city growing and the art scene growing alongside of it.
What is on the horizon for ABV in 2018?
The horizon and future is bright for ABV Agency + Gallery. As for our gallery, we are planning more art exhibitions, including our seasonal global invitational show which features 50-plus of the world's best contemporary artists. We plan to further develop our artist roster after our trip to Art Basel Miami.
As for our design agency, we are fostering growth with current clients and will be bringing adding a few new clients to develop mural installations, scenic design and fabrication, branded activations and experiences and more. Our goal is just to continue to push the envelop and expand at an organic rate, while staying true and humble to our roots.
OuterSpace Project will return again in June 2018 with a new batch of murals and our legendary massive block party (The Big Bang) to cap it all off. I’m hoping to spend a bit more time in the studio on new solo shows to develop more works on canvases. There’s a ton of new things in the works that I can't really chat on due to non-disclosure agreements, but stay tuned as we are able to roll them out!