Mitch Gobel Resin Art Exclusive Interview
Mitch Gobel is an artist and passionate conservationist. At only 24, he has a reputation and career most artists twice his age would be proud of. However, it was only last year that he turned his life around.
After many years of procrastination, Mitch realised the extent of his unhappiness. He decided things needed to change; he needed direction. Mitch embraced his art as an escape – a chance to do something with his life. He didn’t realise the power that art yields until someone gave him some important advice: “Stop listening to that voice inside your head, that little voice that keeps telling you that it’s too hard, that it’s impossible, that no one will take you seriously.”
For the first time in his life he listened. He believed in himself and blocked out the voice in his head telling him people won’t take him seriously. Inspired by that conversation, Mitch quit his job the next day and got to work making his wrong right in order to become a person who could be completely real and dedicated to his passions: art and wildlife conservation. To combine the two became his dream and with his new found self-belief he followed through. Mitch is now the founding director of MGRA Wildlife and Habitat Conservation, a not-for-profit charity funded entirely by his art. “Through art, we are creating a voice for wildlife and habitat conservation”, explains Mitch.
Miertje Skidmore is Mitch’s favourite artist and initially who inspired him to follow his dream. She works with a range of different mediums and techniques but mainly oil paint. “I highly recommend seeing her work in person, it’s insane!” In his spare time Mitch likes to visit galleries. He loves his local gallery in Mt Eliza, Manyoung Gallery, where you can find Miertje’s work. His favourite gallery is Mossgreen Gallery in Armadale. “Aside from the fact that they’re one of the galleries who represent me, the quality of the art there is always at the top of its class. I was actually in there today and they had some incredible sculptures by Andrew Rodgers. On top of the art, what makes the gallery for me is the staff and the owner, Paul Sumner. They’re a fantastic team to deal with and they’ve always got a smile on their faces. It’s a really positive atmosphere.
“Paul Sumner was one of the first people to take my work and I seriously, after a lot of galleries said no. In November 2014, we launched a charity auction for my work, which raised $25,000 for The Wildlife Warriors. Paul was kind enough to host the Auction and let us use his beautiful gallery completely at his expense and he never took a cent in commissions from the sales. He supplied the entire night with drinks and he also had 5-6 staff on for the auction. Without his generosity I wouldn’t be where I am today. Paul’s an amazing bloke with a beautiful family and I can’t speak highly enough of him and everyone else at Mossgreen.”
If Mitch was given unlimited funds to create art he would collaborate on an installation with a range of different artists, in all aspects of the term – musicians, photographers, light technicians, fashion designers, architects etc. Mitch has already started to develop this vision within his home. He has turned his bedroom into what he describes as a scene from the movie Avatar at night, underwater.
“At home I’ve decked out my bedroom and alfresco with almost $5,000 worth of different types of nightclub style lights. I’ve got a couple pieces of my artwork hanging that slowly change colour under LED lights. Tropical plants and different materials hanging from the roof and walls surround them. There are all sorts of hidden lights, which shine through the plants casting silhouettes all over the rest of the room. Lasers that slowly change color and rotate with an effect that makes it look like a slow motion waterfall. The rest of the LED lights all flow through different colours at different times. The best way I can describe it is – it looks like a scene from the movie Avatar at night, underwater. I know it sounds hectic but I’ve got different light programs to suit different moods so it can be as crazy or as calming as I feel. I’ve put a lot of work into it. If my Dad let me have my way I’d already have turned our entire house into a tropical neon wonderland with big speakers in every room. Haha. I’m looking forward to getting my own place and turning this idea into a reality, mark my words – one day I will live in what looks like the inside of a Christmas tree.”
Music inspires Mitch, and he loves to listen to it whilst he’s being creative, especially in his studio. Mitch tells us, “I’ve got a pair of speakers in my studio, which is actually a converted garage, that are so loud they shake the doors, I love them… the neighbours – not so much.” He finds his work a little stressful so can’t imagine his life in the studio without music. “Considering the cost of the materials I use and the time that goes into building my own bases before I can even get the paint out, it’s really high pressure. On top of that, resin is really hard to work with, especially on a large scale. So the music I listen to is fast. Some of my favourite bands are Pendulum, The Prodigy, Dead Letter Circus, Nero and Producer, Pretty Lights. I’m also a big fan of Pink Floyd, The Eagles, M83, Enigma and Bon Iver to name a few, I could go on.” The only time he doesn’t listen to music is when he’s on the phone or he’s eating. He treats meals as a divide between the different types of music he listens to. “Turning music off for that 10-15 minutes while I eat, gets me excited to turn it back on again and listen to something different.” Mitch listens to a wide variety of music and is always looking for new inspiring tunes.
On the subject of music, art is becoming more and more involved in music festivals. Mitch’s favourite festival is Rainbow Serpent held in January in Lexton Victoria. Rainbow Serpent is a 4-5 day ‘Bush-Doof’ that’s world famous for providing life changing experiences. 20,000 people attended this year’s festivities. Mitch describes the costumes as insane and no matter how crazy you think you look there’s always someone around the corner to top it. The music runs 24 hours a day for the entire festival. Mitch tell us that the music is “so loud that even 1.2km away, where we camped, we could still hear the music and feel the bass.”
This festival is about alot more than just music though. As previously suggested, Rainbow Serpent is an invitation to self express through art. “There are all different types of amazing sculptures and light shows, so much room for activities… But the best thing is the culture and sense of community, everyone is there to have a good time and NO ONE passes judgment on another, it’s the perfect party and it changed the way I see partying. Hands down I call rainbow 2015 the best 4 days of my life. It’s a beautiful event and above all, an education. The very essence of creativity.”
Mitch offers his advice for aspiring artists. “Don’t give up and keep pushing your work. I’ve never actually said this publically but I almost gave my art up. I had been working full time managing dispatch for a large wholesale plant nursery and in the studio most mornings before work and every night after, for about 18 months. I got to a point where I was spending every cent I had on my art and back then I never made any money off it. I remember one time I even ran out of petrol whilst driving my car, I had spent all my money on paint and couldn’t afford petrol for almost a week.
“But that’s not why I stopped, my work got to a point where I just wasn’t getting the results I wanted, it drove me INSANE. I tried using materials from all over the world. I had some experiments go bad and nearly burnt the house down. I even went to the extent of contacting chemical scientist looking for answers on how I could achieve different effects; the only answer I ever got was ‘I don’t know’. I was completely self-taught, I didn’t have any education of art that told me what I could or couldn’t do so a lot of the time my experiments failed, the ideas that I had in my head just weren’t happening. Through my frustration I went through mild depression, made some poor choices and I didn’t touch any art for about 8 months.
“I got to a point where I needed something positive in my life. Anything! So I decided I’d make an artwork. I’m a realist but I swear that day something had my back, the artwork turned out to be my best I had ever done and the rest is history. That day was back in November 2013. I don’t want to know where I’d be without my art and after everything it’s helped me achieve not only with our conservation efforts but, as education for myself I owe my life to it, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I love what I do more than anything. Hopefully this can inspire a few others to do the same, it’s a long road but it’s more than worth it.”
Mitch has released a limited edition set of The Freedom Series prints exclusively on Bluethumb. The motivation behind the series is to help fund his charity, MGRA Wildlife and Habitat Conservation, a not-for-profit funded entirely by his art. Check out these exclusive prints here.