An Interview with Greg Mike: The Visionary Behind Bold Street Art and Iconic Murals

An Interview with Greg Mike: The Visionary Behind Bold Street Art and Iconic Murals

Exploring the Creative World of Greg Mike

Greg Mike is a renowned contemporary artist known for his signature characters, bold street art, and vibrant mural paintings. His iconic Loudmouf blends colorful designs with pop culture, creating dynamic visuals that evoke nostalgia and happiness. Greg Mike has painted murals in cities like Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and the Swiss Alps, and his studio work is displayed in galleries and museums worldwide. His impressive client list includes Nike, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Google, Spotify, BMW, and the Atlanta Braves, with collaborators like DeadMau5 and NGHTMRE. Celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Diplo collect his work.

Based in Atlanta, Greg Mike is the founder and creative director of ABV AGENCY, a studio specializing in graphic design, street art, custom murals, and art direction. He also founded ABV GALLERY in Atlanta’s Old 4th Ward, showcasing over 500 global artists and focusing on the New Contemporary movement. Since 2010, ABV GALLERY has been a cornerstone of Atlanta’s art community. In 2015, Greg Mike launched the OuterSpace Project, merging public art, live music, design, action sports, and culture, producing over 100 murals throughout Atlanta.

What does Loudmouf mean to you and how is he evolving?

Larry Loudmouf came to life organically as it was just a recurring character I’d been drawing in all my artwork. Over time, it’s been really cool to see how it evolved as I began contemplating what it represented and what it was saying. I knew there was a mouth that was a constant representation in most of my work, but it didn’t make sense until I opened up a forum to my community and allowed them to be the voice of Larry Loudmouf through a series of “Loudmouf Says” contests.

It all started when I was painting a mural in Toronto that featured Larry holding a blank sign in his hand. I posted on social media “What is Loudmouf saying” and thousands of people replied with what was on their minds. In came words of joy, fear, sarcasm, and everything in between. I went through all of them and picked a favorite and painted it on the sign in the mural. 

After that day the ‘Loudmouf Says’ concept was born.  We now host a contest quarterly and pick winners and send them prints, merch, etc. and incorporate the word into murals, billboards, and more. I hope in years to come it will be a voice and character of our times.

An Interview with Greg Mike: The Visionary Behind Bold Street Art and Iconic Murals

What was the impetus to open ABV Gallery?

I was traveling the globe painting murals at different festivals and I loved the community aspect of gathering with other artists, and how art could bring people together. I’d be riding on such an energetic and creative high, then went home and felt like something was missing. I thought Atlanta needed something similar, so I launched ABV Gallery + ABV Agency fifteen years ago. Over the years it’s been a great way to bring together the art community in Atlanta by showcasing our city’s talent, along with bringing in artists I’ve met during my travels from other markets.

I wanted to expand our footprint and concept, and about four years ago I came across a church for sale in East Atlanta Village. When I walked in I knew right away it was going to be our future home for everything creative. The space will be launching in the next few months and possibilities will be endless once we open the doors; everything from large exhibitions, murals, brand pop-ups, and experiences will happen. You can read more about the project here.

How do you define your role as Creative Director for your ABV agency?

Before going full-time with my artwork, I was already doing creative direction and design work for brands. I went to school for graphic design, art, and marketing so I’ve always enjoyed working on projects from ideation to completion while adding my creative touch.  There’s nothing I love more than coming up with an idea and seeing it come to life from start to finish. As for my role with ABV Agency, I am very active in the infancy stages of projects when it comes to concepting and creative direction.

Over the years I’ve brought together an incredible team, who all have different skill sets, but also work very well together. We have our “meetings of the minds” to align and as a team make it all come to life. I’ll step in as needed per their requests, but I am always overseeing everything along the way. Teamwork makes the dream work and our team is one of the best in the industry.

I also enjoy finding new artists and bringing them into our gallery or on projects with brands and clients. Seeing artists grow, who were initially working dead-end restaurant jobs to them now traveling the world doing what they love and knowing we played a part in that process is such a great feeling! 

An Interview with Greg Mike: The Visionary Behind Bold Street Art and Iconic Murals

What is the art scene like in Atlanta right now?

The art scene in Atlanta is on fire right now. It’s been so amazing to watch it blossom over the years. When we launched ABV Gallery and Agency, we were the only one of our kind and same goes for our mural festival, OuterSpace project. Everything has grown in ATL, from the fine arts and gallery scene to public arts, plus the sheer number of artists in the scene. Atlanta is very supportive and community driven when it comes to art. New developers building in the city realize art needs to be included in their projects, which helps the artist ecosystem and helps Atlanta rise up to be more internationally recognized in the art industry. 

What events do you imagine you will host in the new space?

We hope to take all our events we’ve produced over the past fifteen years and really elevate them to a whole new level and experience for our attendees. We love our large events which feature everything from art to music to food to live entertainment and I think with the new space, we’ll be able to do all that more frequently, plus even on a larger scale. With more space comes bigger events and bigger talent; we hope to continue to support local artists while bringing in big names as well as collaborating with our brands and clients in unique ways.

An Interview with Greg Mike: The Visionary Behind Bold Street Art and Iconic Murals

What are your plans for the retail store?

We will be building a proper gift shop featuring artist merch, books, vinyl toys, and collectables. We want to make sure that there is something for everyone who comes into the space. Whether you are a new young aspiring artist and want to pick up a coloring book or an established art collector looking for an original painting.

What does an artist opening a gallery and agency say about the larger art market?

I’ve always been interested in the collecting and curation aspect of the art world, along with the behind the scenes business workings of it all. It’s definitely not for everyone as lots of artists don’t like to leave the studio. I like to bring people together, help others, and hopefully grow the scene in Atlanta and beyond.

I think there’s no right or wrong way to do things in the art world and that’s the true beauty of art in general. I’ve always had a very DIY mentality mixed with a creative entrepreneurial spirit, so for me it works. I still work with galleries and dealers in other markets, so I am not opposed to it, it’s just that I like to have my work displayed how I envision it when it’s in my city.

Does the fact that the building you’re renovating was a former church have any significance to the space?

Interesting you say that, I never thought too deeply about it, but it is something that I’ve been contemplating recently. I did grow up going to church in school and on the weekends, so maybe I was subconsciously drawn to it. Over the years I stopped going, but I guess now it’s a bit different with my return.

The space is perfect for gathering and showcasing work and it does have great energy, so I am excited for it all to come to life.  We’ve kept some of the original aspects of the building including some original stainless windows from the 1950s and the steeple to pay homage, but everything else has been a full rebirth. 

An Interview with Greg Mike: The Visionary Behind Bold Street Art and Iconic Murals

All images courtesy of Greg Mike, shared with permission

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