"Milwaukee made the most sense. It’s where I could run a business of my own, still raise a child and live a pretty comfortable life."

WHO: After establishing a career as an event planner and photographer in Chicago, Lloyd “Flow” Johnson is back in Milwaukee. Johnson, 31, is the operator of Riverwest’s After Gallery, an art space that quintuples as a figure-drawing studio, roller-skating classroom, movie theater and meal center for the needy.


Ialways wanted a space, and to make it a space where people can feel comfortable. I want everyone to know that anyone can come, to yell that from the rooftops: “You are welcome, you are welcome, you are welcome!”

After I had my second child – he’s 3 now; my other son is 10 – it was a huge moment, a real kick in the ass. I knew I had to really make this gallery thing work. It was either get a job or do this correctly.

When I looked at the numbers, I thought: “I can do this.” Milwaukee made the most sense. It’s where I could run a business of my own, still raise a child and live a pretty comfortable life.

Artists spend most of their lives being told they’re going to be starving artists. That narrative is so negative and detrimental to artists at a young age. You need to know between the ages of 10 and 18 that it is possible, so that you have the mindset of looking into it from all sides: to know how to take care of your mental health and the business side and your finances.

Entrepreneurship is going to come at great cost, but it is attainable.

Lloyd “Flow” Johnson, as told to Adam Rogan

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Read “Why I Love Milwaukee: For My Art, For My Sons” in the July 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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