Mitch Gobel, Artist

The thing is we’re always learning something new, our lifestyle isn’t stagnant – so learning experiences are probably the biggest inspiration for me. I think it makes the art really relatable because in different ways, people are going through similar sorts of things in their lives.

Just a few short years ago, Mitch Gobel was a full-time nursery worker. He decided to put two paintings in a homewares store and they both sold in the first weekend – the next day he quit his job. Hailing from the Mornington Peninsula, Mitch has made the move to sunny Noosa to pursue his burgeoning career as one of Australia’s top resin artists, turning heads with his vibrant and abstract work. His unique side project Sex is Art has got a few people a little hot under the collar – but Mitch doesn’t care much for what other people think, because to him, art is about being a representation of himself. We caught up with Mitch while he was ‘chilling’ ahead of the launch of his week-long Paradise Valley exhibition at Trader Trove in Miami.

How did you kick off your career as an artist?
In 2012 I was working full time, I was managing dispatch for a wholesale plant nursery where I was about four years through an apprenticeship – I learned a lot but if definitely wasn’t fulfilling. I started doing my art one day, and it took me about two years of doing it in my spare time around work, after hours and on weekends until I decided to put the larger sized works into a homewares store – I sold two in the first weekend that I put them in there and then I pretty much quit my job the next day. As soon as I thought, yep this could be a career move, then I was just all in!

Resin is a unique medium – how did you get into working with this element?
I was inspired by other artists at that time, so the initial inspiration more came from abstract art in general. But when I saw resin for the first time, I couldn’t figure out if it was glass or plastic or what it was – but I loved it. The resin gives a 3D dimension to the work. I started doing some research and it just evolved from there. I was self-taught, I haven’t been to art school or anything like that, but back then no one really knew what resin art was so I had to figure it out for myself.

Tell us a little bit about the Paradise Valley exhibition – what can we expect?
I guess this one is more ‘me’. The last few exhibitions that I’ve done were with galleries, but I think I have a bit more freedom with this one. There are a few collaborations for the exhibition that are giving it a bit of sex appeal, like nude body artists, as we’re trying to make it far from the standard black and white art exhibition – there will be a lot more vibe. It was great doing the gallery exhibitions for the first few times, but it’s a career step to be able to do it on your own. The exhibition represents a really special time in our lives – it represents change, growth, hardship, adventure, nature and love. It reflects on the past year spent in Byron Bay and the transition into our new lives here in Noosa.

You’ve become a prominent figure in the industry – how do you juggle it all?
I’m lucky enough to be at the stage of my career to be able put an assistant on which makes things a lot easier. But at the end of the day it’s about me being confident and proud of how I hold myself – I try to share what’s true to me, and not be brought down by people’s opinions. As long as I am proud of what I am doing, then I’m happy to do it – I don’t really mind if people care or not.

What sparked your passion for conservation?
Growing up, we lived on acreage that backed on to bushland, so we had all sorts of animals growing up. I was always watching animal documentaries and it was something that was always just infused into my childhood.

Tell us a little more about how the conversation side of things is incorporated into your art?
Conservation was one of the initial reasons I put so much energy into my work. I came up the with idea to raise some money for the Wildlife Warriors charity which is Steve and Terri Irwin’s charity, which was a really successful project. It was a learning experience at the start, because I probably gave away more than I made and I’m still in debt from that donation! But that wasn’t the reason I did it. It was really fulfilling and in a lot of ways it helped me advance my career because I put so much energy into it because of the conversation aspect – it wasn’t just about the art. 

It comes with a few strong content warnings and can get a few people a little hot under the collar, so tell us about how the Sex is Art project came about?
It was a bit of an experiment to start. Art to me has always been about being a been about a representation of myself, just as much as it was of the work. It started off just as venting online, and blew up and people wanted more and more. It was another creative outlet, it was a lot of fun and pretty controversial!

What was the response like?
It was particularly hard through social media with that type of work, and initially we did have a lot of backlash – the project got picked up by Daily Mail and people saw that was a representation of us for the first time, without the art and the backstory and the conservation. So, all they saw was basically our soft porn! Obviously there was a lot of people that didn’t like it, it was confronting at first but then you just learn to deal with it and don’t pay attention to people that don’t know you personally. We dealt with it well, we didn’t let it deter us. I’d say that 99% of the feedback was great, people love it, it was crazy. For the few nasty comments online, there were hundreds of positive reactions. We kept on doing it.

What is it that keeps you inspired?
The last year has been a big inspiration – moving up here from Melbourne, starting a new relationship, then moving from Byron Bay to Noosa. The thing is we’re always learning something new, our lifestyle isn’t stagnant – so learning experiences are probably the biggest inspiration for me. I think it makes the art really relatable because in different ways, people are going through similar sorts of things in their lives. It keeps it all fresh, really.

You’re a philosophical guy – what words of wisdom do you live by?
Well, you should always be doing what you love, but I know it’s not that simple – it took a lot of hard work for me to get to a point where I can always be doing something that I love. I think being true to yourself is probably the biggest thing for me – you’ve got to do something that you’re proud of and for all the right reasons. Oh yeah, and always be creative – always.

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