Welcome to Prints on Wood!

POW Chats: A Conversation with Illustrator, Painter & Muralist, Greg Mike

greg mike true colors "True Colors"


1. Hey Greg! Your first POW release is an image used for a mural that went up last year in your home-city of Atlanta. Can you talk about that mural visually and thematically and the dilemma related to it that followed suit?

The mural “TRUE COLORS” was painted in my hometown of Atlanta, GA and was all about not "judging a book by its cover."  From the outside and at first glance you see a angry wild bear, but upon further investigation, the colored, happy characters are apparent.

The mural was all about feelings and letting out what’s truly inside.  People are constantly being judged by visuals and what’s seen on the outside. I respect the real and those who dig deeper.  Life’s too short to be something you're not or put up a false representation.

The piece was self-funded as a gift to the city on a wall I’ve painted for the the last 3 years.  I think it’s extremely important for artists to invest their time and money back into the city to help inspire future growth and development.

Three months after it was painted, it was covered without notice by a local art institution with an advertisement. It was a disappointment to say the least that they didn’t reach out when they have my number.  We created the print on wood so the piece could live on forever and also generate capital to fund another mural in the city.  I am all about walls evolving, I grew up painting graffiti.  There’s just rules to the game. Tags get covered by bombs, pieces cover bombs, productions cover pieces.  Advertisements shouldn’t cover local art. I also think it’s important to respect artists and speak with them before covering any work when it’s at a certain scale and make sure murals ride for a decent amount of time.

2. Greatly put. And this is a really great piece to introduce your aesthetic to art enthusiasts that may not be in the know. Can you talk about your style and specific influences that play into your highly colorful and characterized work?

I am influenced by BOLD and LOUD colors and imagery.  I grew up studying everyone from Walt Disney to Salvador Dali.  I am interested in new worlds and characters that don’t exist. Everything from wild animals to cartoon characters. The characters I create are inspired by the people around me that I interact with and the environment.  I live vicariously through my character LARRY LOUDMOUF that speaks a language of our generation though the LOUDMOUF says submissions.  His voice is now larger than just mine, it’s a collaborative organic movement that I am only one part of.


3. What are your creative practices, routines or rituals prior to jumping into an illustration or painting? How do they differ from your creative processes prior to beginning a mural?

I usually start with a pencil, then utilize microns for inking.  Most murals start out as sketches and are refined.  More recently, I have been referencing and incorporating more realism into the work where I will study a number of photographs.  As for colors for murals, I usually have a general idea in my head in terms of the palette and will define it while working on the wall.  My work is always changing during the process.  I studied design for a bit, so I am a huge fan of balance.  A lot of times I will balance my colors on the spot as it leaves more freedom in the creative process.  I like to allow for a bit of change so it feels natural and not just like I am a giant printer replicating work on large format walls

4. Can you talk about specific projects that you've gotten to work on that you're particularly excited to have been a part of?

Honestly, I’ve been excited about all my projects.  If I am not excited, I won’t do it.  Each project has its own challenges and are exciting for different reasons.  All projects drive me to create, whether it is public art I’ve produced, solo shows, mural / music festival I founded (www.outerspaceproject.com) or the crazy projects we’ve brought to life through my design studio and gallery ABV (www.ABVagency).

5. Yeah your background in pubic art as a muralist and as an all-around crusader for the arts is really striking-- you even founded ABV AGENCY / GALLERY which you just mentioned. What goes down there?

After I started showing work at different galleries across the U.S. and designing for various brands, I decided I should start my own creative hub in ATL.  ABV (A Better View) was created as a gallery and studio space for all of my creative projects.  Over the years, we have developed some interesting collaborations with brands that incorporate the contemporary art and design world. We do everything from art exhibitions, live art projects, branding, collaborations and more.


6. Fantastic. So I understand you reside in Atlanta, but were actually born in Connecticut. Can you talk about where you're from, what it was like for your growing up there and how you made your way to the ATL?

I was born in Danbury, Connecticut.  Luckily, we had a really rad graffiti scene there.  Everyone from Cost and Revs and the whole DF / IMOK crew used to murder it there. I was just a little skate and snowboard rat back in '96 when those dudes were killing the scene.  We had really nice train bridges that were great to paint on.  Eventually, I moved to Florida when my parents split and was skating and painting on the streets through high school.  I ended up going to Florida State University to study studio art and graphic design, and got some formal training.  I got super bored on the weekends and used to head up to Atlanta, GA to hang in a larger city.  I was designing clothes for a bit while doing art on the side.  After traveling the world for fashion design work, I felt like I needed to go back to my roots and focus 100% on my true love.. My art.  That was about 7 years ago and here we are today.


7. In regard to creative work obligations, what plans or projects do you have coming up that you're looking forward to?

I am working on some more solo shows in markets I haven’t hit yet, and a few group shows. More murals and festivals are booked for 2016 which will be announced soon.  I hope to continue to be able to create on a daily basis and do what I love.  Life is too short not to enjoy it and follow your passion.

8. Completely unrelated to work and obligations, what do you have coming up for yourself personally that you're looking forward to?

I’m tying the knot in May!  Very excited about that.  :)