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Meet Brian Mills of Freeside “Free” Mills in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Mills.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Brian. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Colors, drawing, painting, music, figurative language, basically any expression of the arts have always a part of my life and upbringing, whether I knew it or not. I never had any intent to become what I guess can be deemed an artist or a painter, but sometimes that stuff just kind of forces it’s way out of you.

I was born and raised in the South and went to Princeton University. There I majored in Neuroscience (did some moonlighting in Aerospace Engineering for a bit, for some comic relief), and played football as well. Not much time for the arts but even so I found myself spray painting longboards, bikes and random things for friends. For me it’s always been the easiest way for the patterns, concepts, colors and ideas that decide to show up at 1am to make their real-world debut.

Fast forward to now, having relocated to Santa Monica about two years ago. The story of “Freeside Mills” is based less on events and more on the idea of “Keeping it Free”. From younger years to even now, the response most would agree they’ve heard or even said in response to seeing someone’s creativity is something along the lines of “I could never do that, I’m not creative like that”, and that always bothered me.

In short, Freeside Mills comes from freeing yourself from the idea that you can’t or are not something. I’ve taken no formal classes, or done anything that would suggest a path that leads to painting or creating art. It’s simply freeing yourself that you what you have in your head, has to happen right away, or that some artists/creators weren’t hot garbage at what they do at some point (like myself), or that your first attempt has to be just right. Give yourself the freedom to suck at first, or the freedom to paint the same thing a few times, to learn, fail, try something new, youtube it (learned so much there), still suck, but ultimately enjoy your process, your creativity, and the freedom to be able to do it.

Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere, from Saturday morning cartoons, pop culture, album covers and artists, banzai trees, video games, quotes, and the Maryland state flag. Because why not.

I’ve followed this concept, and luckily employment allows me to afford canvases and longboards to continue creating. With the aggressive encouragement of friends and family, I’ve participated in a few showcases, began to sell my art, and embarked on creating an artist collective with a few friends.

Candidly, the process has been surreal, but the focus is still around freeing myself from the idea that the process and its results are anything but exactly what they should be.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Yes and no. Balancing a career in wealth management that requires a lot of around the clock time, and makes it difficult to catch and capitalize on inspiration when it comes. Even then, you’d be disappointed with the amount of 50-75% complete projects there are lying around, given something else “took priority”. Showcases can be stressful, as anything can come up at anytime.

Additionally, there are so many talented artists and creators in LA. It’s not intimidating, but more than anything it’s inspiring to see how and what others’ hands and minds can create when given the time and energy and resources.

That being said, the support and help of those around me have made coming into this skin as an artist an amazing journey. I’m taking it one piece at a time.

Please tell us about Freeside “Free” Mills.
As it stands as Freeside Mills, the mediums of choice are canvas and longboards of various sizes and styles. I try to make these all look cool with acrylic spray paint, acrylic paint, and good ol’ mechanical pencil.

They may not look it at first glance, but most if not all of my work is very geometric and layered, with any piece have 2-10 layers. The pieces themselves don’t take incredible long to make, but the working them up mentally is a bit of a process (the engineer in me appreciates this)

I’ve become most known for the original works I do on various longboards, the medium I started with. Canvases worked their way in somewhere along the road and have decided to stay. They all consist of various bright colors, stencils, patterns, and figures.

I’m most proud of how well received the pieces have been, and how commissions have now become a staple part of my projects and business. It’s incredibly gratifying and motivating.

Contact Info:

  • Phone: 9195940276
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @freesidemills ; @boards_byfree

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