• adidas + UO: Michael Bailey Gates


    The future is now. For our new + exclusive adidas campaign, we teamed up with 19 up-and-coming creative minds that our shaping our cultural landscape. Scroll on to go behind the scenes of our Fall 2016 campaign and meet the creatives who are working to #createourfuture. 

    Born in Rhode Island, Michael Bailey Gates moved to New York to go to the School of Visual Arts. He now works as a photographer, an artist, and a model, creating work that reflects contemporary culture back to itself in paint and video. 
    Lead photo by Petra Collins

    Photo by Petra Collins

    What's the first thing you can ever remember making?
    The first thing I ever remember making was these clay figures that my art teacher, Mr. M, taught us how to make. For making eyes, it would just be two circles, then you'd stick a stick in it. I remember sticking sticks in the eyeballs.

    What keeps you going? 
    My dog gets me up in the morning. His name’s Jack. He’s a rescue dog, a mega-mutt. 

    What makes an image powerful to you? 
    I think other people's images that I really love are powerful to me when they have meaning behind them. I pick up on that. When somebody photographs somebody that they really love or they put a lot of work into something and when you hear them talk about it. That's really powerful to me.

    Is the a common philosophy behind your work? 
    It has a lot to do with clearness, relationships with people, reflecting what's going on in the world today.

    Above photos by Braina Laviena @picsfortipz 

    Do you feel that, as an artist, you have a responsibility to your audience or to the world? 
    No, I don’t. When I was in art school, my friends put together a talk with this amazing queer icon, Flawless Sabrina. I asked her that, "What's the job of a queer artist these days?" She kind of screamed at me, "Just make work. You don't have to label it under this umbrella for everything." By doing that, you box yourself in, I think. If you're making work that's important to you, hopefully that responsibility will come through it.

    Your responsibility is being fulfilled in the sense that you’re being true to yourself. 
    If you're being true to what you want to talk about, then you're talking about issues that are happening in the United States. You're talking about what's happening in the world

    Like your work is holding up a mirror. 
    Yeah, exactly. 

    Does your work transcend traditional notions of what a model should look like or what art should be about?
    I think with my photo work, I do that, especially when somebody hires me to photograph, I do have the option of going down the route of shooting models or shooting commercially beautiful people. My boyfriend does that, actually. He's a celebrity photographer, and everyone will offer him. I've also learned from him to be very stubborn when a magazine approaches me or when I'm asked to do something commercial. I only shoot my friends.

    I try to be a little bit more political about it. A modern photographer also collaborates very closely with their subject and talks to them, puts them on a pedestal. I think that's different than it used to be.


    Photo by Petra Collins

    When was the first time in your career that you’d felt like you’d succeeded? 
    When I was finally able to get my own studio and not work out of my bedroom or work out of other people’s spaces. To not have to rely on other people being nice for me to make work. When I was finally financially able to have a space that I could make work in was really exciting. I was so relieved I cried.

    Has that had an effect on your output? 
    Yeah, definitely. Right now, I share a studio space with Eckhaus Latta, the fashion label. They just moved in recently. Even before that, it was a long process of getting the space. It was really rundown, just having a workspace environment where somebody else is making work, there's good energy for that. It's been really, really exciting.

    If you could speak to every single person in the world at once, what would you say?
    I think my immediate reaction is to tell them to love each other. Love each other more. I think there's a lack of listening happening in the world right now, especially with social media. There's more heating up happening than there is actually interacting with another person. I would tell everyone to listen to each other.

    What does our future look like? 
    Being in a room with so many exciting people offers the opportunity to be able to squint a little bit and to see the future more clearly. It's hopeful.

    Photo by Braina Laviena @picsfortipz 

    Meet the Future
    Shop the Lookbook