Greg Beebe: Continuous Creation — When Art and Life Knows No Separation
Art can be a channel through which to release thoughts and feelings that accumulate in other aspects of life, or a response to them. This is not the case for Greg Beebe. This Miami-based mixed media artist is also a successful financial entrepreneur that approaches his art practice with the same intention as he does his business interests… with an unstoppable impulse to create. While his work feeds his art, so too his art complements the thinking that generates his investments. Whether it’s building a business entity or expressing an idea using a range of techniques and materials on canvas, there is no separation between artist and businessman. And that is the beauty of Beebe’s art — the purposeful fulfilment of inherent skills. The result is honest commentary that promotes the power of positivity and the pursuit of creation in any form.
“I can move from one tool to another quite easily,” explains Beebe. “Whether it’s stepping out a business idea on my laptop or picking up a paintbrush to start telling a story, it’s all pretty fluid.” This seamlessness is not something learnt or acquired. From a very young age Beebe has always had ideas and the impetus to express them. “I guess I began lettering, cartooning, drawing when I was about five years old,” he says. Eventually he became recognised within the school system as a top tier artist. But things changed when he got to university. Beebe ceased his arts practice except for a bit of doodling. This may seem at odds with someone whose lifeblood is creation, but the decision was elementary for Beebe. “I just knew that in order to get ahead and do well I needed to get obsessed with study, to focus without any distraction so I could get good at something.”
About 5 years later, while travelling regularly for work, Beebe was exposed to various modern and pop artists that inspired him to experiment with techniques. “I never stopped being creative in my thoughts and plans. I had been busy applying my skills to building and creating in the business world,” says Beebe. “But when I discovered artists like Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol and Banksy I actually wanted to go out and buy a canvas, wood, paint and start messing around. I think I’ve bought or created every possible material to a flat surface actually. I even did a glass blowing course once to understand the possibility of integrating onto canvas!” The initial results were abstract and the movement he effects through his harnessing of materials and colour is evident. But eventually he wanted to get more specific in what he was saying to the viewer. This has led to a more serious arts practice and the development of a mixed media style comprising multiple layers, pop culture imagery, graffiti, collage, photography and resin.
“What I want to say, the creation part of what I do, has already happened before I sit down to start the detailed work of a piece,” Beebe explains. “Often it’s a response to something I’ve seen or felt while in Miami or while traveling. Maybe it’s the result of my business interactions. But while the message in every piece is different, generally I’m talking about the idea of working hard and playing hard.” Case in point, Beebe’s Mickey Mouse on a boat flanked by Moet Chandon reflecting a beach babe in his sunnies. In fact, maybe Mickey’s just being a wee bit superficial? Perhaps Beebe is trying to tell us something?
“There’s definitely a fair bit of materialism that goes on in Miami and of course it affects my work. You can see that I address that in pieces where I refer to not forgetting your roots. But I’m not being cynical. I believe in using your skills and enjoying what you can achieve by applying them,” admits Beebe. “Positive or energetic messaging is my key focus. I want to create artwork from a personal feeling of motivation or positivity. For example, seeing people work hard or working hard myself and achieving something is gratifying to me, so I want to create a piece of artwork that might give the viewer a piece of what I’m feeling.”
While the general theme that infuses his work is one of positivity, the specific message, elements and composition in each piece is fresh and handled differently each time. “It hurts me as a ‘brand’ not to keep a continuous theme — for example painting the same figures over and over again or the same constructed script over and over again, but I could never be happy with replication in order to achieve recognition and ‘branding’. I try to deliver my message in a few forms: direct messaging, direct imagery and heavy use of colour and texture to bring the message to life. My work will visually look similar piece to piece, but the themes and details and materials will always be different,” Beebe explains.
This is not meant to be controversial every art form is art, however; when you understand Beebe’s work pattern you understand he just simply isn’t built to do the same thing twice. “I don’t enjoy a recurring day. I need to build, hand over and move forward. From home, I can be on my computer or executing the detailed stages of an artwork, in my multi use warehouse space I can let loose with the messy aspects of the piece, and I can be in my office space operating a franchisee business with various canvasses hanging around rendering the space like a gallery. My business and art cross over constantly and it works really well.”
The obvious question is how closely will Beebe’s art practice come to becoming a business? “Sure, I’m keen to see if my art has an audience that makes it financially sustainable quite apart from my other businesses. That’s not what I do it for though. I do it because it’s who I am. Having said that, exposure, exposure, exposure — it feels great when people love your work.”
Stay tuned — Greg’s works coming to Addicted Art Gallery soon!
Written by Skye Wellington