If you came of age in Sydney in the ‘80s, you may well have seen artist Mikey Freedom’s work all over the city without even knowing it. “I grew up in the Sydney graffiti scene,” says Freedom from his studio, on the NSW South Coast. “It was an incredible period to be swept up in, I was 14 or 15 years old at the time. An artistic foundation was being laid by teenagers that many unknowingly benefit from today. I suppose you could say that these were the genesis years.”

Freedom was part of what he calls Sydney’s first generation of graffiti artists. And in 1985 legal walls were few and far between. “You might paint the side of a fruit store,” he says. “They were inspiring but very illegal times. It was in that context my art had its biggest development.”

Freedom’s career has changed a lot since the ‘80s, but the influence of his graffiti years remains. Known for his paintings, murals and posters - one of which Broadsheet recently gave away – Freedom’s commercial work is graphic and colourful, heavy with line and abstract shape.

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Working with collage, cut-outs, oils, graphic design, digital imagery, interior design, sculpture and more, Freedom says his long career has given him the confidence to shift back and forth between mediums.

“I can paint realistically in oils, or abstractly, then move sideways and create something design-based,” he says. “That diversity of what I do feeds into each medium I use. I did a cut-out here, how can I replicate that in a painting? How can I bring in those qualities of shape and cardboard? Then I’ll find it in a mural, or weave that into a sculpture.”

Recently, Freedom has found a niche in the hospitality industry. If you’ve been to Shell House in Sydney’s CBD, you’ll have seen his work. It covers every level of the venue, including Sky Bar, Menzies Bar, Clock Tower and the Dining Room and Terrace. “There are multiple murals, sculptures, mosaic tables and artworks framed and hanging on the walls,” he says. “It was an enormous but rewarding project.”

At Bondi you’ll see his Mediterranean Grecian stylings while dining at the Point Group’s Topikos. He’s also completed work for Continental Deli and multiple other venues from the Point Group (Humble Bakery; Bastardo; and more recently, Bar Louise in Enmore).

“Working for people like the Porteno Group or The Point group is like establishing an extended family to me - hospitality is indeed a lifestyle and it’s one that I’ve happily found purpose in” he says. “I’ve had the good fortune of working with my clients and not simply for them.”

At Bar Louise, Freedom’s paintings, painted terracotta plates and guitars merge with the interior to create a space that feels like it has always been there. “Sarah Doyle & I worked together on a very prominent hanging curtain in the upstairs dining room, becoming a nod and a wink to the great Joan Miro,” he says “It’s something completely different and a joy to work in this way, when you have clients with such expansive vision.

That invitation to experiment suits Freedom well – he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed. “I find a lot of artists are locked into a style or even a colour palette they don’t know how to develop or divert from,” he says. “But for me, I’ve got to be able to pivot and grow. That comes from time and effort I guess. I think I’ve had the years of experience to be able to do that now.”

Like other creatives, he often jumps from commission to commission and rarely has time to explore his own art development. “I’ve just put up a nice large blank canvas on the easel,” he says. “Ready to paint another painting, but this one is for me.”

Freedom’s work is currently on show at Seven Marks Gallery, Circle exhibition, until January 27, 2023.