Not many folks are familiar with George Jeffreys, but most know the talented artist Gorgeous George. George has been the primary factor in helping brands and events gain notoriety by creating killer artwork for each avenue. I had the opportunity to cross paths with George many years ago, and I can honestly say that he's one of the good ones. He's supportive, down to earth, and always has a smile on his face no matter how crazy his workload is. George has many irons in the fire, and has even begun to put together an ongoing ‘zine called Smut Butt Magazine that will focus on the man behind the machine. Please take a moment to learn more about my friend.
Where do you call home?
GG - After many years of bouncing all over North Carolina, my wife and I have finally purchased a home in Asheville, NC, and run our business out of it.
Inquiring minds want to know, where did the nickname Gorgeous George come from?
GG - Way back in the early days of Death Science (Death Science 1.0 as I like to call it), I started hanging out with those dudes here on the East Coast, and they knew I was, and still am, a huge professional wrestling fan. I reckon they associated George with the legendary wrestler Gorgeous George and it stuck. It's not a nickname I would pick for myself, but I guess I won't complain. Haha.
Have you always been drawing? Definitely. I grew up out in the country, and country parents give their kids a couple of options. A: Go outside and play or B: Find something to do quietly in the house. When the fields were too muddy, or the woods were too cold and dark in the winter, I would sit at the kitchen table with a ream of dot matrix printer paper and draw all afternoon. Mama was usually cooking or cleaning in the kitchen in the afternoons, so I would just hang out in there as she did her thing and stayed out of the way as she chased my wilder, older brother around.
What is some of your favorite artwork to date?
GG: Oh, man. That's tough. I recently drew up a graphic for the skate shop I hung out at in Greenville, NC back when I was in art school. The shop is called Back Door Skateshop, and it was the hub for all of us skate rats, art kids, punks, weirdos, and everyone else who wasn't a dick. Haha. It's where all the punk bands would play in the late 90's and early 2000's, and the community surrounding the shop is still a huge extended family. I first started showing my art in huge group shows we would put together, so it was an honor to be able to draw up a graphic for them that incorporated some of the imagery that was in my fine art paintings back then and in my current illustration style.
Another one that pops into my head is the very first drawing I did for Loser Machine. It was a drawing of a guy doing a Boneless One on the seat of a PanShovel out of a pool. They had seen the work I had drawn up for the Ride to Skate event in Philadelphia, and when I got an email from Adrian Lopez saying they were big fans of my work I was blown away. Coming from that skateboarding background and having a dude like Lopez email me was another huge honor. I was super into Zero and Mystery Skateboards and the aesthetic that went along with all of Jamie Thomas' brands, so I had followed almost all of Adrian's career and was alway a huge fan of his style. So working with him, Paul, and Chris has been a killer experience.
Do you prefer to draw in black and white versus color?
GG - It's not that I prefer to draw in black and white over color, it's just that a lot of my work ends up being screen-printed onto t-shirts and the cheapest way to print them is in one color. You know how a lot of these biker dudes are. If it ain't a black t shirt with a white graphic on it, ya might as well wipe yer buns with it. However, I do like the graphic, high contrast style that comes with working in black and white. My first "real" skateboard was a Skull Skates "Dead Guys" board, and ever since then, I have always loved the cut-and-paste, punk rock, xerox looking, black-and-white art. So in a way, I like to think that I am carrying on that style in my own sort of way.
Your artwork has been the focal point for many grassroots event flyers. How did that come about?
GG - I have been lucky to have friends that believe in me and my art and have reached out to draw up tons of posters, flyers, and shirts for their events over the years. From some of those first DS BBQ's, Ride to Skate, the BF5 Builders Invite poster, Smokey Mountain Chopper Fest, Heroes Run, Raven's Run, The Trip AB, and even the recent Twin Rivers Chopper Campout. I have always been happy to be a part of these events in some way even if I can't attend myself.
What have been some of the harder flyers to create and why?
GG - They all have their sort of obstacles to overcome. Whether it be the technical aspect of physically creating all the detail in the art, or coming up with a concept that fits the event and is something that both I and the person, or people, putting on the event are happy with each design has its own battles that are going to arise. One of the most labor-intense pieces I have created was for the Builders Invite poster for BF5. Each of those portraits and frames was hand drawn. I could have easily drawn one frame and popped in the portraits in photoshop, but I wanted to torture myself on a detail that no one would ever recognize and draw each one by hand. Haha. Some of us artsy types are gluttons for punishment.
When did you start making your t-shirts?
GG - I held off on making my shirts for quite a while. I almost felt that the t-shirt market in our community was oversaturated, and I was busy enough drawing things for other brands at the time that I didn't need to throw my hat in the game. That all changed when I doodled up the Playboy Bunny with the rabbit ears handlebars coming out of the top (lovingly named the "Wabbit Ears" due to my affinity for old Looney Tunes Cartoons) and got a killer response. It took me a little over a year to actually get the shirts printed, but that was the first one I released as just me, Gorgeous George.
You have created artwork for many brands. What are some of your favorite t-shirt designs?
GG - I like that first one for Loser Machine that I mentioned above. I have also done some designs for Paulo at Joe King Speed Shop, Forever The Chaos Life, Wilshire Clothing, Death Co., Lowcard Magazine, Noise Cycles, Kill Yourself or Die Trying, Chopper Swapper and Freak out the Squares that I am really stoked on. I was even hit up recently by an independent pro wrestler down in Florida named Wolfe Taylor to draw a shirt for him. That was pretty sweet! When the Back Door Skateshop shop board was released a little over a month ago, I hung a bunch of shirts I had been asked to draw over the years in a little gallery type room at the skatepark. As I was getting all the shirts together for the little t-shirt art show, I was shocked on how many designs I have been asked to draw for folks. I was humbled by the support I have gotten from all of these companies. I couldn't help but take a walk down memory lane as I looked at how my art has evolved. It was pretty surreal.
The Gorgeous George Yard Sale seems very popular on Thursday nights via Instagram. How did that come about and where do you find most of your items?
GG - That all came about a while back when my wife and I were downsizing from a big ol' condo in an old cotton mill to a 31' Airstream travel trailer. Ever since I was a kid, I have collected little trinkets and doodads. When downsizing, my wife told me I had to get rid of a lot of stuff since it wouldn't all fit in the trailer. The Yard Sale started as a true yard sale. It was all my things that I no longer had room for, but I wanted them to get into the hands of people who would enjoy them as much as me. Over time it evolved into our little side business. We have always loved flea markets, yard sales, and all forms of junk hunting, so the Instagram account @gorgeousgeorgeyardsale became a way for us to continue to go out and hunt for awesome things and get them into the hands of people who will love them. We have met some of the most amazing people out hunting for the things in the sale, and our Flea Market Family has become closer to us than parts of our real families.
What type of motorcycle do you own?
GG - 1983 XLH dubbed the Bologna Pony. This bike has taken on many different forms over the years, but I think I'll just leave her as she is now. I picked up the bike off of Craigslist a long time ago and started chopping ‘er up. I sold all the stock stuff and extras that came with the bike on eBay and pretty much paid for the bike in those parts. So essentially I have a free Harley. Fingers found the tank for me and welded in a new tunnel, bent up the sissy bar, and made the struts for me. Wesley did some welding on the frame to get the fender struts solid. A bunch of the other parts, like the front wheel from Wes and six over tubes from Frankie, I slowly collected over the years with a rough idea of what I wanted the bike to look like in my mind. I'd say she has looked how she currently is for a good four years or so.
What is your favorite road to get lost on?
GG - The 5 in Southern California. Haha. Just kidding. North Carolina is full of amazing roads to cruise down without having to stop for miles and miles and miles. Pretty much anywhere between the beach and mountains, you are going to find some amazing scenery, wildlife and curvy roads with killer bridges and tunnels. Where I grew up the roads were cut around all the farms way back in the day. You end up with these longs straight sections with rolling hills that dump into sweeping curves that head off towards the next old farm or town. For me, those are the most fun roads to ride.
Who inspires you daily and why?
GG - I am inspired every day when I pick up my phone and start scrolling through Instagram, and I see all the crazy things that builders are doing, painters are coming up with, artists are creating and the freedom in the lives my friends are living. It's nuts to me how easy it is to connect these days. I have friends all over the world that I have been friends with since back in the "blog days" of the chopper community. So to be able to instantly see what they are up to and what they are creating is an amazing tool to get my butt in gear.
You seem to have many projects going on at the same time. I’ve noticed your newest adventure called Smut Butt Magazine. Can you tell the readers a little bit this project?
GG - I tend to overwork myself because I have tons of ideas that I want to bring to life. Sometimes that means I get very little sleep, but I'm fine with that. Smut Butt Magazine is my take on a chopper magazine with an aesthetic based on all of my influences growing up. It's high contrast, lo-fi, punk style magazine that focuses more on the individuals in our community than the bikes. We can see a million pictures of the same bike online, but I find it more interesting to focus on the individual than their machines. The magazine will definitely have some of the classic features of a motorcycle magazine but thrown in the mix will be a few other things that are a little more unorthodox. Each issue will be released in a limited run of hard copies and digital format as well.
Have you always been interested in photography?
GG - I remember back in elementary school my parents took me and my brother to a Baltimore Orioles series against the Oakland A's. My dad was taking pictures with the point and shoot Kodak that weekend, and he handed it to me after we got to our seats in the mezzanine. I looked through the viewfinder and saw the field below and snapped a picture. My brother and parents were both like "What did you just take a picture of? There is no one on the field." I simply responded, "I liked the way it looked." At the time I didn't know the art terms to describe the composition, visual texture of the field or even the contrast between the dark seat backs against the brightly lit tarp covering the infield but I knew "I liked the way it looked." Since then I had an interest in photography, and it evolved as skateboarding became a bigger part of my life, and we would go out filming and getting photos. I don't consider myself a photographer, but I did take a few photo classes in art school and learned a lot about how what we see will never accurately translate into a photograph. Once I learned that, I started allowing the camera to do its job and I took a backseat to the chemistry and mechanics of the camera. I feel that just like a painting or sculpture, a photograph will have its own look that is in direct relation to the individual eye of the photographer and each photographer uses the camera in a different way similar to how painters use their tools in a unique way.
What style of camera do you use?
GG- Nikon D3300.
If you could pick one location in the world to call your own, where would it be and why?
GG - I want an entire self-sufficient mountain in North Carolina. I would build a bunch of cabins for friends to come and escape from the world. I would throw a huge party each year. A classic biker bash. This is an actual goal my wife and I have set for ourselves. We hope to have someday at least a portion of this be a reality. Owning a whole mountain may be out of the question, but a big chunk of one would be pretty sweet!
You come across as a hands-on type of guy. Is there any trade that you wish you have time to learn more about?
GG - Tons!!! My welding sucks. I am a terrible screen printer. I wish my apple and pear trees weren't so sick. I'd love to have a space to build more bikes and actually learn more about motor work. My friend Murphy said building Harley motors is like Legos for adults. I can totally see that. If you follow the instructions and do it the way it's supposed to be done, without any shortcuts, you'll end up with what is pictured on the box.
Who always has your back?
GG - My wife. 100%. I wouldn't be answering these questions right now if it wasn't for her love, support, and believing in me. I subscribe to the adage that "Behind every great man is a great woman." I also subscribe to the adage that says "Behind every great man is a woman kicking him in the ass to get done what is necessary to be great all while being great and taking care of herself and the rest of the family at the same time." Haha.
Would you like to give thanks to anyone?
GG - Everyone in the chopper community. Seriously. If you have ever checked out my Instagram page or web store and liked a picture or bought a sticker, shirt, prints, or buttons, thank you! If you have ever come up to this tall, shy, goofy-looking dude with a funny hat on at a show and introduced yourself, thank you! If you have commissioned a piece of art or purchased something from the Yard Sale, thank you! Even if you have been a turd and acted like a jerk to me, thank you! It's those experiences that make me love my friends even more and have taught me to avoid people who aren't worth my time and energy. So, thank you!
Check out George's world:
Instagram / Store / Blog / Gorgeous George Yardsale
Coming very soon: Smutt Butt Magazine / Instagram