making art with chunks of metal

Posted on February 18 2016

johnny cash would be proud. we harnessed his all black errthing mojo and did a badass photoshoot we’re pretty stoked about it. black is the new black, as they say. and it’s no surprise you can see a lot of it at umano hq on the reg.

in the spirit of our favorite styling theme, we went to visit our friends at one of the most creative places in our hometown of athens, ga, st. udio. known for their custom metalwork design, fabrication, and installation, the st. udio team makes killer art with chunks of metal, their hands, and their creativity. it was a privilege to combine st. udio’s creative atmosphere with our all-black vibe. 
we asked mike harboldt, co-owner of st. udio, to talk with us about being an athens creative.

st. udio metalworkers

why metalworking? how did it start? 
mh: metal work came from motorcycles. for as long as I can remember I have loved motorcycles. I wanted one more than anything in the world when I was a kid. once I got old enough to start buying them, they were usually in pretty bad shape cause I couldn't afford anything nice. so I would customize them and fix them. I bought a little welder and started building up some tools. 

what's your creative process like? 
mh: all of our ideas usually start with a sketch. sometimes the sketch is detailed and other times it is more gestural. I think drawing is actually one of the most important steps. it not only helps us visualize our thoughts, but it gives our guys in the shop something to start from. 

why athens? 
mh: I had always wanted to leave athens for nyc or california after college. I felt like a visual artist in a music town. I didn't know many professional artists in athens and didn't see a future for myself here.  the best I thought you could do was getting your art in a coffee shop, or having a pottery sale. after college I did the lights for a band. we went to so many towns across america and europe, and I realized that the cities I loved were so special because of the people who lived there . ny is cool because people go there and hustle to make stuff happen. they aren't waiting for opportunities; they are creating them. after traveling nonstop for almost an entire year I missed athens a lot. so I decided to make some opportunities for myself here. 

st. udio metalworkers

what is st. udio’s work environment like? 
mh: it is awesome. we could not ask for a better crew. we are all pretty close friends and spend a lot of time together outside of work. there is definitely an understanding that although we are all friends and pals, we still have roles and obligations. andy (our co-owner) and I are usually the only ones who ever fight, but it’s in a brotherly sort of way. it usually ends in us having a few drinks and laughing about it. owning a small business is fun and exciting. the thing I never thought about though was that we would be responsible for peoples’ financial needs. of course I knew we would pay them, but the thought never crossed my mind that there may be a time when I couldn't. although that hasn't happened yet, it can keep me up at night. 

where do you find your inspiration for the beautiful things you create?
mh: motorcycles, nature, other artists and craftsman, architecture, and more motorcycles.

st. udio metalworkers

how would you encourage someone else to unleash their creativity? 
mh: you have to start. don't wait for the perfect opportunity to fall in your lap. go find or make your opportunities. 
work with what you have, and don't always get hung up on what you don't. that could be a new lens for a camera, or a new computer, or different software for design work. there will always be better and nicer stuff, and that stuff will come, but learn to make magic with what you have. 
and finally, stay at it. any creative process will have its ups and downs. sometimes more downs then ups, but don't get discouraged. get after it every day, even if it’s something small. I think a big difference between the goods and the greats is that the greats work harder. 

st. udio work

we love seeing how mike unleashes his creativity. the ability to collaborate with other creatives gives us so much inspiration, and we hope it does the same for you, #umanounion.