In two weeks time Camp Bisco, a 3 day camping festival with supporting acts such as The Disco Biscuits, and Bassnectar, will be well underway. While the festival is very much about the music, the minds behind the event have also done a lot to promote interaction throughout the weekend. One of the biggest ways for interaction to be cultivated is through the efforts of the creative team to come up with a theme, this year’s is Night vs. Day, and accompanying artistic pieces to represent it. This job falls on the shoulders of Camp Bisco’s Creative Director, Greg Mike.

Greg Mike is an an artist and the founder and creative director of ABV, a multi-faceted art and design company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Mike mixes street art with commercial illustration to make his own style of artistry. He has had exhibitions all over the United States. His first exhibited piece and perhaps most famous is “Popstars and Cokeheads” whichreceived far reaching acclaim.

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We were just fortunate enough to hit him up with some questions regarding his role, his vision, and just why he thinks artistic value is important for Bisco’s success.

ES: You’ve talked about finding inspiration from skate culture, American cartoons, and the city of New York to name a few, what would you say are some other big inspirations for your work? Have you found that your inspirations have changed and evolved over time?

I am inspired by everything I interact with. Anything I see goes into the mental melting pot which gets mixed together and serves as inspiration during the creative process.  In terms of art, I have always been inspired by early 1920’s black and white “rubber hose” cartoons, the surrealistic nature of Dali’s work, the pop colors and repetitive style evident in Warhol’s work and the attention to detail and line work of Escher’s art.  Music has always served as a great source of inspiration also as it is almost impossible for me to live without it.  From creating to relaxing, there is always a soundtrack to guide or inspire my work.

ES: At what point did you realize that you could make a living out of your art work?

I have been making art and designing as long as I can remember.  From painting on the streets, to designing teeshirts for bands to making local skate zines in my home town with scissors a pencil and a black & white photo copier.
I always knew it’s what I wanted to do as long as I’ve known what a career was.  I knew I could make a living by way of art and design during my second year of college when I met with the dean and we worked out a deal where I could intern for my own design studio in trade for college credits while still receiving my diploma on time.  That right there sealed the deal and was all I needed to know.
ES: When did you create ABV and what is your vision for the company?
I created ABV 4 Years ago as I wanted a place where I could have a space to do everything I loved.  I was working in a smaller studio space in downtown Atlanta at the time, creating new artwork and showing at galleries nationwide, designing for fashion labels, art directing music and art events, collaborating with various artists.  I needed a location and business where I could bring it all together under one roof.  ABV was what was conceived, a design studio, art gallery, creative space which served as the meeting grounds and creative platform for myself and my team.  The vision of ABV (A Better View) is to create, provide and showcase visuals that are exciting and challenging, develop unique creative solutions for our clients and on collaboration on projects globally.  Our end goal with ABV (short for ABOVE) is always to rise above and go beyond while pushing yourself creatively.
ES: When and how did you eventually come to be the Art Director of Camp Bisco?
I worked with MCP (Founders / Producers of Camp Bisco) on Counterpoint, one of the other events they produce in Atlanta this past September.  We brought in a variety of visual artists for the project and a number of artistic installations and elements onsite.  The event was a massive success and the visuals added to the overall experience.  This was the beginning to a solid relationship with a group of individuals with a smilier vision who have a love and understand the need for contemporary art and design in the festival world.  With Everything I do, I always make sure it’s a natural organic growth and not forced, working on this project and role is a prime example of that.  The timing was perfect and I enjoy taking it to the next level each time we work on these types of projects.
ES: Do you feel that the festival is a good fit for your artistic vision?
The festival is a great fit as music and art live so closely together.  I constantly talk to a number of musical acts, many who are on the CB bill who are good friends we always discuss how a lot of musicians collect contemporary artwork, visit museums when traveling and have collaborated with artists but feel there is a void in the festival scene incorporating them.  Working the new era of contemporary artists and integrating them is something I hope to focus on in the future.  My goal is to create multifunctional installations that incorporate the work of contemporary artists on a larger scale.  Music festivals are an incredible outdoor gallery where you have thousands of visitors looking to experience art in new ways.
ES:  Can you talk a bit about this year’s theme, Night vs. Day? Were you involved in the creation of this theme? What are some of the art installations you have in store?
The theme for this is year is Night vs. Day which is an important and interesting aspect of music festivals involving camping over a 3 day period.  With the concept of Night vs. Day there is an element of “change” and “transformation” that attendees experience with the festival and all visual aspects.  During the day, colors are more apparent, the landscape is more vibrant, the skies are filled with colors.  During the night, the visuals change and manmade lighting illuminates the sky.  The use of technology becomes more apparent and there is more control over the lighting and mood.  As an art director, it’s equally as challenging and exciting to create artistic elements and installations that function in both settings that transform and change into something completely new during the evening.
ES:  Why do you think it is important that artwork is a part of Bisco, when many people may just be coming for the music?
I think it’s important that festivals are multi-sensory and creative in all aspects.  We want people to experience everything as a whole with Camp BIsco, It’s the entire package from the music to the visuals, to the installations to the staff to the landscape.  All of these elements make the overall experience unique and memorable.  If people are coming for only the music, I look forward to opening their eyes to a visual world they may not be aware exhisted.  To me, that’s more exciting as there is nothing like coming across something unique and new when not expecting it.  I have found some of the most important things in my life when not searching for them.  At the end of the day our goal is to inspire, to engage and to make people feel alive and well.
ES:  Bisco has come a long way since its inception in 99’. Do you see it lasting far into the future? What separates Bisco from the pack?
Of course, as we continue to introduce new ways to creatively add to platform it will continues to grow well into the future.  Bisco is about an experience, one thats truly unique and that creates memories that last forever.
ES: What are you most looking forward to for this year’s Bisco installment, artists and otherwise?
We have a unique multi-level live art structure and gallery we will be introducing this year which will be new to the Bisco grounds that will feature 12 contemporary artists featuring unique work that will be created over the course of the festival.
I look forward to see new work developed and inspired by the music, people and environment in which its created.
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It is easy to forget just how much work goes into these festivals to make them so captivating. Through the continued efforts of people like Greg Mike, who have are passionate and have wide and far-reaching visions, the dynamic feeling of these gatherings will remain intact. While many people go to festivals for the music, they go back because of the atmosphere. If it weren’t for people like Greg Mike, that atmosphere wouldn’t exist.
If you want to learn more about Greg Mike and his company, ABV you can go to his site here.