Artist Greg Mike on the return of the OuterSpace project
Celebrated surrealist pop artist Greg Mike has called Atlanta home for over a decade.
His mark can be found on murals throughout our city; look for his iconic “LoudMouf” character.
The creature with the blue mouth and the chipped tooth can often be found with other colorful characters overlaid on gorgeous, realistic, black and white animals,
The animals have their mouths wide open as though to prove that they belong in Greg Mike’s world.
In 2009, the artist solidified his relationship with Atlanta and opened up ABV gallery in the Old Fourth Ward, and in recent years, Mike has leaped into the NFT world.
In 2015, he created the OuterSpace Project, a week-long festival of live music, public art, popup shows, and more. After a pandemic hiatus, the festival is back this year, and Greg Mike joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes for a conversation about its long-awaited return.
Mike and the OuterSpace Project team affectionately call their annual festivals “missions,” and this year will be their sixth. In a more conventional sense, OuterSpace Project’s mission centers around uniting Atlanta’s independent artists and street art community and inviting the rest of the art world to participate.
“We just felt like there was a need to kind of bring in artists from other cities and… create a festival that was kind of a mix of everything that we have, with that being murals, street art, music, design, and the community-based live art events,” said Mike.
A major part of the festival involves creating new murals around Atlanta; many of the results of past years’ festivals still decorate the town. Mike explained, “Every year, we shoot to do 16 murals, and we break the lineup up of half local artists and half out-of-town artists. This year, we will hit the over-100 mark. I think it’s 102 total murals completed since we started the project.”
Artists for this year’s lineup include Detour (Denver), Emmy Star Brown (Chicago), Hiero (Miami), and locals such as Helen Choi, Tanner Wilson, and Mike himself. Styles run the gamut from representational realism to pop art to the abstract, and artists are encouraged to stretch their limits and explore beyond their comfort zones.
“Our motto is, ‘explore the creative unknown,’ with mural projects versus typical commissions. You know, a lot of times when you do commissions as an artist, you’re given very specific guidelines in terms of what the client wants you to create, but what we’ve always urged our artists that are involved in the project is to try something new,” Mike said.
In addition to all the new murals, artists and art lovers can check out the largest ever “Drink ‘n Doodle” event, a tradition at ABV Gallery hosted this year at the Eastern in Reynoldstown, with over 100 participating artists from the festival.
The artists will occupy long communal tables and create on-the-spot artworks while socializing over beverages and listening to music from a live DJ. “I think it’s gonna be something magical that no one’s ever really seen before, just the creative energy – and yeah, it’s gonna be explosive,” said Mike.
The OuterSpace Project takes place from July 18-23 at locations all over Atlanta.
More on the festival, mural sites and related events is at https://outerspaceproject.com.