Saving the Environment with Art.
Mitch Gobel is a self-taught resin artist from the Mornington Peninsula and active supporter of wildlife and the environment. A few years ago Mitch quit his day job and dedicated himself to his two passions, combining them to create the MGRA (Mitch Gobel Resin Art) Wildlife and Habitat Conservation, a not-for-profit charity funded by his own art.
You’ve been on an incredible journey these last few years since starting the MGRA Wildlife and Habitat Conservation. Can you tell us when you first fell in love with resin art and conservation?
Yeah it’s been a pretty insane experience. I’ve always been passionate about conservation but never really had an outlet that enabled me to actually become part of it in some way. My art has turned into that outlet, although it’s not really something I promote as much now. Initially when my crew and I were getting started on the big charity events, we needed people to support what we were doing so we drew a lot of attention to our efforts. Now that I have this platform on social media, by word of mouth and my art is selling well, it’s just become something that we do. It goes unsaid because I don’t want people to see our efforts as marketing. We support some incredible local wildlife shelters and anti logging groups when we can, purely because we value their efforts.
What are some of the efforts and achievements your charity has made towards wildlife and habitat conservation?
I guess what has a bigger impact is arguable but to date we’ve now donated just over $44,500 to a range of conservation organisations including Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, The Wildlife Warriors as well as some smaller organisations such as GECO and the Animalia Wildlife Shelter, these are the organisations we’re now putting the money we have towards, as it goes a really long way here. Raising awareness and getting some publicity for these groups has also been a big part of our conservation efforts, especially the smaller ones. Aside from the obvious achievement of self and fulfilment that comes with charity work, to my surprise late last year I was also nominated for the Wildlife Warriors ‘Young Conservationist of the Year Award’ which was an incredible honour.
Though you are now a successful artist, have your own swimwear line and your charity is doing amazing things, was it daunting when you first quit your day job to dedicate yourself to this life?
It was terrifying haha! I actually took out a $40,000 loan on top of the money I had saved to put into the charity project and my art. This obviously put a huge amount of stress on us and without knowing whether or not the project would be a success, yeah it was daunting to say the least. But it taught me that real transformation comes from outside of your comfort zone and in order to be successful with the project, I had to just try my best to block out the fear and do what I knew I had to do, to make it happen. That said, it’s easier said then done and even though the project was successful, I’m actually still paying off that loan. I learned so much from it and despite the financial pressure, I wouldn’t change a thing because of what it taught me.
Where do you draw your inspirations from for your art?
Nature is always a good one. Diving on coral reefs, with the insanely coloured fish is my biggest inspiration at the moment. I try to capture those colours and the balance of them in my latest work. Being abstract, my work is often interpreted in a completely different way but it’s interesting hearing different people views, I love it.
Can you walk us through your creative process?
So I created the entire artwork from scratch. I build the base myself, this usually takes 3-4 days. The artwork is done in stages and takes another 4-5 days. The final finish including hanging/ photographing and doing the rest of the PR work for the artwork release is usually another 4 days. Typically a single piece takes me a couple of weeks to produce but it can take up to a couple of months. I don’t like to create unless I’m excited to do it, I like to put positive energy into my work and I like to think that it makes a difference. It definitely makes it more enjoyable.
You caused a bit of a stir (in a good way) on Instagram recently with fellow creative Sally Mustang, not typically with images but with the amazing captions detailing your sex life. Can you tell us about this?
Haha yeah those posts have been making some noise. Everyone who we’ve spoken to, even people we don’t personally know have been bringing it up. My art has always been more to me than something purely visual. Any artist’s work represents their experiences through life and a big part of my world and our relationship is sex. It was my New Years resolution to be more open about my addiction and the goal was to inspire others to not be more open about their sex lives but to put more effort into it, to embrace it. I want people to experience their fantasies or desire and not be controlled in the bedroom by fear, and that can relate to any aspect of your life, not just sex. Exploring sex has been a huge part of my life, much more significant actually than my art and I like people to understand where my work comes from… I guess this answer is a little open ended, the posts tell the story better, I’ll keep this interview PG haha! *Check out Mitch and Sally’s Sex is Art series here!*
When you are not creating art, designing bikinis or saving the environment how do you like to chill out?
‘Date night’ is something Sal and I created to make sure that no matter how much we both have going on with work, we put 100% of that afternoon/evening towards one another. It’s usually something we do weekly. It’s something we do to achieve balance in our lives because doing what we do does all blend together, it’s easy to feel a little stuck at times so we typically spend half the day preparing a feast for us, we have a few drinks, we watch a sunset or appreciate nature in some way and we put a lot of effort emphasis on sex. Getting crazy every now and then ultimately keeps us sane haha!