Renowned muralist Greg Mike discussed the inspiration for his iconic graffiti wall at the Bitcoin 2021 event.
If you were one of the thousands of Bitcoiners in attendance at Bitcoin 2021 in Miami, it was hard to miss the giant graffiti mural onsite, featuring a mix of well-known and newly-inspired cartoonish characters adorned with Bitcoin iconography.
Over the course of four days, the mural was painted by American street artist Greg Mike and his Atlanta-based team, which has been creating ambitious blends of classic American cartoons, Mike’s own imaginary characters and cultural symbolism around the world for years. Still, even for such experienced artists, the mega wall (which ran some 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall, by Mike’s estimation) at Bitcoin 2021 was a unique challenge — one that required two scissor lifts, a team of extra help and more than 200 cans of spray paint.
But following Mike’s experience completing a similar (though much smaller) mural project for the Bitcoin 2019 conference, it seems that deciding on the blend of imagery and Bitcoin references for the 2021 wall was less of a daunting challenge than the execution.
“[At Bitcoin 2019], I would pop into some of the speaker rooms and just hear some of them speak and that kind of sparked my interest just to dive deeper into the culture and community and learn more about it,” Mike told Bitcoin Magazine. “So, coming into this one, I definitely had some tricks up my sleeves in terms of the visuals to kind of get people excited about it and make pieces.”
The resulting wall featured a colorful, energetic smorgasbord of icons, pulled from Mike’s own psyche as well as the deep channels of Bitcoin’s internet culture. There is Scrooge McDuck holding a physical bitcoin, Lenny from “The Simpsons” with laser eyes and Mike’s Larry Loudmouth with diamond hands. It captured, likely perpetuated, the event’s celebratory festival atmosphere.
“I have my original characters and then my original characters hang out with all of these iconic characters,” Mike explained. “It’s cool to mix them together and make them hang out together in one big party or event. And that’s kind of what’s on this wall.”
Beyond the incorporation of Bitcoin memes, it’s hard to articulate just how well the mural encompassed the spirit of the event and the ethos of Bitcoin in general. Bitcoin is, after all, ultimately a software project with no inherent visual component. But Bitcoin 2021 was wild and weird; there was no shortage of original characters roaming about; it was loud, colorful and ambitious. Mike’s mural captured this in-person spirit, as art is always uniquely positioned to do, and offers a visual that may not be inherent in Bitcoin, but has certainly sprung from its deepest roots.
“It’s like art is very outside-of-the-box thinking and trying to carve your own path and own lane and do things that are different,” Mike said. “So, I definitely feel like there’s some parallel to explore, you know, if you’re into Bitcoin and that way of thinking.”