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NiteTalk: Artist Greg Mike Sounds Off About His Loud Mouth

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NiteTalk: Artist Greg Mike Sounds Off About His Loud Mouth

Ryan Purcell

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Wynwood Art Walk is gonna swing just a little higher than usual this coming weekend. Why? 'Cause Butter Gallery's got the Greg Mike exhibit opening. Mike, an ATL-based artist who's shown from coast to coast, is the kind of visualist that's just as adept in a gallery setting as he is on the lean, mean streets. He also happens to be one of the most powerhouse purveyors of pop cult color out there today. Get a load of his Loudmouth and see if we're lying.

I've gotta ask: what's the story with Loudmouth? I was sketching these MADD cans for a few months in my studio and there was the recurring mouth with the chipped and missing tooth in the same location of all the characters. I noticed the mouth was a focal point on a lot of the cans and created some new stickers fitting the mouth into a square format. I have always been intrigued with art as a form of communication and I liked how the loudmouth visually created noise without having to say a word at all. It's loud only if you notice it. I handed them out to friends and they began popping in photos.

That figure has been seen all over the world. What are some of the oddest spots it's cropped up? I have received photos of sightings from anywhere from Japan to Sweden. As for the oddest spot, I would say Rome or Egypt.

You actually got your start in the street art scene. How has that informed your work? Being involved in the street art and graffiti scene was the reason I got into everything creative and visual. It was something that became an addiction at age 12. The relationship that was formed by painting walls and getting up was one that was so impactful it has changed my life and pushed me in the path I am in now. For me it has been a representation of freedom, youth and creativity -- three things I don't ever want to live without. Simple reminders that I'm actually alive. As for the work, the bright color and line work have their roots from street art and graffiti, which I feel is apparent in the work.    

Word is you've also got some background in gear -- in both the design and the trafficking. Can you tell us about that? When I got to art school I linked with a few folks and we started a premium denim collection that we built from the ground up. It was called Carpe Denim. We used to make jeans and hand-finish them in this shack in the back of our house. We did a few thousand by hand, sold them and began working overseas in China. That led to us starting an apparel tradeshow called Trafik. After five years, I sold the businesses to focus on my fine artwork, selected commissioned based projects and the most recent venture ABV Agency and Gallery. 

What's ABV all about? ABV Agency and Gallery is a creative agency, art gallery and shop. I wanted to create a space that could have everything under one roof. A place to have gallery exhibitions with my work and other artists, pop up shops and a place for us to work from.    

You've got a show opening Saturday night at Butter Gallery. Can you please give us the details? I will be showcasing the "Popstars and Cokeheads" series which features hand painted small and large MADD cans. It originally started as some sketches in a book then moved toward a more solid 3D-based series.

How'd you end up showing at Butter anyway? I met [Butter owner] Paco [De La Torre] through a mutual friend and we chatted via email and he came to Atlanta to see my last show. After hanging for the night and chatting about what his vision was for Butter ... we agreed it was a good fit for the Miami exhibition.

Currently, you live in the ATL, but you've been spending more and more time in the MIA. Where do hang when you're in town? Always great hitting Wynwood District, and Paco makes a point of taking me to Joey's every chance we get. Other than that meeting with friends and checking out what new work is hanging. I've been spending less time on the Beach and more time on the Mainland.    

Besides Butter, what's coming up for Greg Mike? Working on new work for shows, new gear and collaborations and building the ABV.

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