Miya Bailey: Second Hand Smoke

As told to: J.Q. Franklin
Adapted by: Jaya Franklin

Smoke coming from the chief is a powerful concoction, no matter what type of smoke it is, good or bad. While in his presence you will be influenced even if you aren’t taking direct pulls from the drug itself. Just being in the room with the cloud will automatically put your mind in the zone. Second hand smoke can help you in more ways than one, especially when it’s coming directly from a source like Miya Bailey, a person who is mindful of the energy that he transfers, the company that he keeps and what he puts into his body. He believes that it all plays a part in his make up, and yours too. Especially if you plan on elevating your talents and growing with the family.

W2N2_3W2N2_2Miya is approaching 23 years in the tattoo business this October and people still don’t understand that he is so much more than an artist; this man is truly a boss in every sense of the word. Until this day a majority of the stories written about Miya have been solely focused on his artwork, of course that’s where it all began, but his purpose stretches far beyond the surface. Art is not where his creativity ends but it did plant the seed, one that has been nurtured and grown exponentially. From Asheville, N.C., to Atlanta and even worldwide he’s left his mark in some way, shape or form in all of the areas that he has visited. His mark can be located on his customers who’ve had the pleasure of being tattooed by him and his influence can be discovered by talking to his students or by just observing their accomplishments.

Miya continues to school them, and the lesson is priceless.

“Teach them how to fish and create more jobs for other people…employees are just as important as the boss. You can’t have one without the other,” said Miya. The business owner has taken several young artists under his wing to teach them how to become successful artists. Take for example Corey Davis and Paper Frank. Both are tattoo artists studying under Miya, but they are very different and are taking different paths to reach their goals. Frank and Corey Davis, along with a slew of other artists just opened an exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Frank’s portion of the exhibit “SPRAWL” contains animation art with marker on graphite paper, and latex acrylic paint.

W2N2_19Corey is also preparing for “Windows to Nowhere Part 2,” an exhibition set to open at the end of this month along with Miya. Corey and Frank also participated in “Forward Warrior,” an art event including 33 artists collaborating to add their mark on a wall in the Cabbagetown community in Atlanta. Both guys are important additions to Miya’s City of Ink family.

W2N2_4It’s important to note that the leader doesn’t allow just anyone who expresses an interest to work under him or enter into his home.

“…The number one thing is ambition, there are some awesome artists, but I look for more than just that. An artist can be awesome and do beautiful work but can they move the masses?” He explains to J.Q. one Tuesday evening that “most artists are not social, you have to teach them social skills. You gotta teach them how to deal with [people] and when they’re going off…how to humble themselves.”

Even after training an individual for years, just like a shepherd with a flock of sheep, you still have to wonder if something were to happen to the leader, would his team be able to survive?

“To be honest with you, one hundred percent I battle with that, I still battle with it today because nobody is perfect. I want to keep the family always together but a lot of times I’m the common denominator.”

W2N2_23 Portions of Miya’s plant has been been repotted and handed down to the family, each person takes their piece and “lays hands on it.”  If you want to understand the mind frame of Miya, think about a musician who uses his craft to make money and pull himself out of a mediocre lifestyle. Once he masters the art of music, he uses his connections and profits to build another business, such as a clothing line, and from these different branches the plant continues to grow and flourish. Miya took this same process and attributed it to art.

In February 2007, Miya, Corey and Tuki Carter, a music and tattoo artist opened the doors to City of Ink in the Castleberry Hill Arts District located in downtown Atlanta. Most recently, the second City of Ink location is now open for business on Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward Community of Atlanta and the City of Ink Contemporary Art Gallery is also gaining momentum.

W2N2_8It’s ironic that as I write this story Miya is preparing for his art show along with Corey Davis called “Windows to Nowhere Part  2.” Miya put his faith into a tiny seed, not 100 percent certain of the outcome but he had faith. Now that seed has blossomed into an entire tree with branches flowing from all directions.

He’s always been a leader who vouches for his community and stands up for what he believes in and he takes control of his own destiny, no matter what anyone has to say about it. And that same attitude has rubbed off on his followers.

If you think about it, no matter the topic or subject, everything is still based off energy. It evokes a feeling and from that feeling you develop a mood, and sometimes even a vision. Miya understands the fact that his energy can develop something negative or positive and he chooses to go with the latter.“Energy never stops,” and the same goes for the mind of the chief, who continues to lift his people and make sure his family eats.

-Jaya Franklin