Never tell an artist to get his head out of the clouds. Case in point— Marietta native and current Los Angeles-based creator C. Michael Frey. Despite wanting to be a doctor during his formative years at Sprayberry High School, Frey’s earliest childhood memories are of drawing.
“I wanted to be a doctor because everyone tells you it’s so hard to make a living as an artist,” Frey said. “My mom worked at an outpatient surgical center, and I worked there part-time. I watched a surgery once and passed out. I realized it wasn’t for me.”
Call it destiny, serendipity or kismet… sometimes, the universe has other ideas for our best laid plans.
After high school, Frey spent a year on scholarship at Berry College before transferring to the nationally-ranked Lamar Dodd School of Art at University of Georgia. Post graduation, Frey spent a year kicking around Athens before blazing a trail for New York City.
“It had always been my dream to be an artist living in New York,” Frey said. “It changes you. It’s great for learning about life, but it’s a hard place to make it.”
But make it he did.
Frey worked for a commercial photographer in the Big Apple for six years, first as an assistant and re-toucher and, ultimately, as a creative collaborator.
“I would take his images and turn them into photo illustrations,” Frey said. “We did a lot of work for New York Times Magazine and New York Magazine. It was a lot of fun.”
After a successful tenure in NYC (that included a budding relationship with now husband, Tim Campbell), Frey relocated to Los Angeles to make his mark as a graphic designer. He kept many of his New York music and fashion clients and even secured work with Atlanta’s Dogwood Festival.
But, it wasn’t until a fateful 2016 photography show based on a hobby that his career as an artist blew wide open.
“I’d been taking photos of clouds,” Frey said. The sky in L.A… is so open and amazing. It gives me such a sense of calm and inspiration. I would take a daily walk with my dog and started photographing it.”
A buyer from retail giant Urban Outfitters attended the show, and the rest (as they say) is history. The company licensed several of Frey’s cloud images, and a collaborative partnership began. Today, his art is featured on a number of products for purchase at Urban Outfitters.
From here, the sky’s the limit.
*Originally published in the May 2017 issue of Cobb Life magazine.