I Make Art In Atlanta: John Tindel
Published on May 17, 2011 by Molly Coffee
Enter John Tindel. Voted one of the Top 50 Most Creative People in Atlanta by CommonCreativ Magazine. He is a resident of the suburbs of Atlanta by way of Opelika, Alabama by way of Panama City Beach by way of the University of South Alabama. His artistic abilities span many disciplines and he is constantly evolving his style. A well-known force in the Atlanta art scene, he is the founder of BIG LIKE MOFO fashion, and the other half of TINDELMICHI with Michi Meko. His impressive client list includes Jack Daniels. CW Network, Jose Cuervo and Scion Toyota Motor Company just to name a few. As a working artist in Atlanta, he had a lot of opinions to offer about young artists not being able to find work.
Coffee: You have had quite a journey through the south before ending up in Atlanta. How do you like living here creatively? Tindel: Seems to be my comfort place. I go to other cities and they inspire me for their new qualities and visuals, but when I come back here, I seem to go inside my head a little more. Hide out and try to paint something. The suburbs have been nice to me creatively.
C: You have worked pretty closely with Michi Meko (TINDELMICHI: Two Southern Boys Who Paint) but recently took a 3 year hiatus to work alone. How do you grow as an artist working with someone like Michi and what eventually brings you back together? T: When do you get a chance to argue about a color, or a line or an object. The collaboration allows us both to have a dialog with each other and transfer that verbal discussion into visual pieces. Creatively it is great. It is part competition, part mutual admiration and greatly the desire to out do him. This leads to the progression of our individual work, as well as the collaboration mutating its own presence as a comprehensive style.
C: You have taken part in exhibits outside of Atlanta. Has this been a struggle for you? Do you see differences in other cities to the scene here in Atlanta? T: The struggle of shows outside your town are the logistics of it all. How am I going to get these huge wood paintings to New York. How am I going to get them home? Most cities end up basically the same at the core of the art scene. I havent made it out to LA (mostly logistics of it all) and New York was fun, because of how old and structured the art scene is there. However, I am not one to comment much on an art scene. Most scenes are filled with talkers, not collectors. I am trying to make this a career, so I like to find the collectors. Buying artwork from an artist is supporting the arts.
C: Our streets are filled with graffiti and other urban non-traditional forms of art. Do you think things like this should be inspiring for even the most traditional of artists? T: It is beautiful color combos, intriguing design and usage of line, perspective and all other traditional art things. Usually the wall it is on has its own qualities of old brick or metal. It has many layers to its visual appeal. I think a traditional artist would do good to look deep at some of the great graffiti pieces around Atlanta.
C: Has growing up in the south shaped the artist that you have become? T: Yes. I get to be close to my history as an individual. I get to hear my grandparents tell stories of their life. I get to see it. Since Life seems to influence totally, this is my life and influence.
C: What has been your impression of the Atlanta art community’s strengths and weaknesses? T: Strengths: There is a shitload of amazing artists here that are hustling and trying to make a living at it. Weekness: There are not enough artist hustling. You dont have to follow the traditional route of making it as an artist. There are not enough galleries that can keep up with the modern artist and their ability to utilize all the technology and marketing that today is available if you learn. Underneath this cities dirt is a goldmine.
C: You have constantly evolved your style in non-traditional ways including the use of a razor blade. What would your art teachers from college think? T: I only took two or three art classes in college. I didn’t really start painting until right after college. I killed it in those two classes though… ha.
C: Do you have suggestions for artists in Atlanta on how to make it as an artist? T: Learn to build a website! One that you can update and keep alive with your art hustling. I think that is square one. Find people that buy art, and make sure you develop a good relationship with them. Keep the folks up to date on how you are progressing and any achievements in your field. Show your folks that they made a good investment in your work. Offer commissions. Show your shit off. After that… make something.