We had the absolute pleasure to interview the insane artist/ environmental superhero, Mitch Gobel. Creating the most in capturing pieces, the self-taught resin artist is not only making waves in the art world but also in the non-art world. Mitch is also the mind behind MGRA Wildlife & Habitat Conservation, a non-for-profit organisation funded entirely by his art.
A lot of people dream of becoming a professional artist... Where did your journey begin & how did you turn it into a career?
It’s still strange to me how it all happened. Growing up I was really into art, but drawing, nothing like what I’m doing now. Anyway, through my teenage years I never did any art at all, the one day when I was maybe… 22 I had this strange urge to do something creative. I’d never really even been into an art gallery before but I found a local gallery and decided to go check it out.
Almost all of the artwork in the gallery (as impressive/ complex as it all was), I could understand the whole process just by looking at it. The paints or materials they’d used and how it had been applied etc. Until I came across one piece, which completely blew my mind. It was an oil painting but with resin incorporated into it. This was the first time I’d ever seen resin used like this and I decided I was going to do some research, so I did and I fell in love with it.
My art consumed me completely for at least 12 months day and night before I ever even considered that it could be something more than a hobby. I did it because I loved it, nothing more.
I turned it into a career with a lot of work haha. When I accomplished something new, it was always time for the next, bigger step. Gradually it’s grown into what it is today and it’s an amazing way to make a living… even considering how much time, effort, heartache, money etc that I’ve put into my work and career, I often still think to myself ‘You’re so f**cking lucky’ haha.
Where were you 5 years ago and what advice would you give to yourself then?
Haha great question – 5 years ago I was driving huge tractors, hearding cattle, building fences, I was working as a property manager for large rural properties on the Mornington Peninsula. I wanting to be working outside and it paid the bills but needless to say, it was far from fulfilling and I dreaded going to work most days.
I guess back then I was always chasing something and I never had much idea about what I actually wanted to do with my life. The advice I would have given myself would probably be to believe in myself, to stop worrying about everyone else’s opinions and to acknowledge that the tougher something is to achieve or endure, the better you’ll be for it in the end. Don’t be scared to make mistakes…
What was it that attracted you to resin art?
Possibilities. I’m self taught and back then resin art was still very modern and un-explored, so if I could think of it, I could create it, or at least try to anyway. That and the colours, depth, materials. I get so excited walking into an art store for the first time, seeing new products and then testing them haha. It can be incredibly frustrating at times but it’s also one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced, when it works.
Your works have a really distinctive style. What inspires your artwork?
Usually nature, but a lot of my work is purely a result of the colours that I think will work well together.
You’ve recently launched/ Will launch MGRA swimwear on the 1st of November. What lead you to venture into the world of swimwear and what makes it ‘Designed for Nature’?
Intially we saw this as a great way to promote my work and our conservation efforts. Now it’s also about creating and managing a successful business and through that, being able to give back and put money into our charity.
The idea behind the brand and as I mentioned, a lot of my work, has always been to incorporate nature. It obviously works well when promoting our different conservation projects.
Our slogan ‘Designed for Nature’ came to me pretty easily. In my mind, when girls are in bikinis they’re at the beach – so they’re appreciating nature.
The slogan also relates back to our conservation efforts. I want people to associate my work, myself personally and now my business’s with conservation, it’s obviously something I’m really passionate about and it’s been a huge influence on how hard I’ve pushed myself to get my work to where it is. What I’m doing with my life goes far beyond my own personal gain, I think that play a huge part in why, what I do is so fulfilling.
What's the best advice you have ever been given?
Not to listen to the negative voice in my head, basically to believe in myself. Also, to be self aware, to understand myself and be able to consider that I’m wrong. That my idea of reality isn’t necessarily correct and also to be honest.
Who’s mind would you love to peek into?
First thought, Leonardo Dicaprio. He’s one of my greatest inspirations and someone who I have a lot of respect for. It’d be interesting to know how he see’s himself and the life he’s created.
Your charity, MGRA Wildlife & Habitat Conservation is a really amazing thing to be funding solely by your artwork. Tell us a bit about it.
I mentioned briefly that the conservation aspect of my career is the reason I’ve put so much effort into it. My initially idea to start putting money from my work into charity is what basically started my career as a professional artist.
Since I founded the not-for-profit charity, we’ve been able to donate just under $31,000. I’ve also given artwork away to fundraisers or charity projects to the value of $13,000 and I’m really proud of myself for what we’ve achieved, so far.
Not long ago I was a very self-centered person. It’s made me appreciate my life a lot more and given me direction.
WOULD YOU RATHER
Art gallery or Music festival
Unless it was my own gallery, a festival, definitely.
10 minutes late or 20 minutes early
Water or Wine
That’s a hard one haha, but water.