WRITTEN BY: ZARNA SURTI | LEAD PHOTO BY: TAYLOR RAINBOLT
Inspired by Miami, Typoe knows no bounds—from interactive 3-D pieces to conceptual sculptures, he’s the young, brilliant artist the city has been waiting for.
Meet TYPOE, The Miami Artist You Need to Know
We sat down with Typoe at his home in Little Haiti to talk about everything from where his love of art first developed to how the city inspires him everyday.
So you grew up here in Miami right?
Yeah, I grew up in Coral Gables. First Kendall and then Coral Gables. I lived here until I was 15 and then I moved to Maine—well actually, I got sent away to a school.
Why’d you get sent away?
Um…I got sent to a bad kid school.
Yeah, and then I came back to Miami when I was 19.
What do you love most about Miami? I feel like you draw a lot of inspiration from the city.
The most obvious thing about Miami is the weather. That alone keeps me from living in New York or anywhere else because in the wintertime I can still be on the beach, in the water, and swimming around. Miami’s just got a good energy. I think my favorite thing about Miami is that it’s such a young city—New York is dope and LA is super dope because they’re established and they have their market. There’s Hollywood, there’s the fashion industry, New York has always obviously been the center of the art world, and that’s where everybody’s always travelled from all over the world. I like Miami because it’s so young and we have a clean slate—it’s like the Wild West, the first of everything is starting now.
In the last 10 years, every architect is trying to put a building here. Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas—all these people are doing such amazing things. Every chef is opening up a restaurant in Miami. I just read yesterday that there’s an industrial design college out in Wynwood and then a new art school just opened there as well. There’s all these things that are just piling in and every month there’s a new gallery. I’m also in my own box most of the time, so sometimes it’s hard to see all of it, but there’s just a good energy. It’s like a renaissance that’s happening and I think everybody that comes here feels it.
I like Miami because it’s so young and we have a clean slate—it’s like the Wild West, the first of everything is starting now.
So taking it back a little, when did you start doing art?
I started doing art before I could walk. My mom’s an artist and my older sister, who’s four years older than me, is an artist as well—she went to the Art Institute of Chicago. When I was growing up, my mom would sit me down and have me draw a perspective in the room, and I would draw her while she was reading the newspaper, and that’s just how it was. That’s just what I did, I didn’t know anything different. Then when I got older, with the influence of my sister’s friends who were all doing graffiti, that’s how I got into that whole lifestyle.
You work in a lot of different mediums.
Yeah, a lot of different things and most of it’s influenced from Miami. I think Miami is the direct indicator of all my work and where all my inspiration comes from—growing up and walking down the street and seeing the neon lights. A lot of my stuff in the past was always about drug culture and growing up in that influenced me. As I get older, I feel like my work starts to change as I mature and as I grow up. I’m 33 now, so my work when I was 20 years old was way more aggressive and defiant. Now I look at things from a different perspective. Now it’s not about focusing on the problem, but more focusing on solutions and what that looks like. I think when you’re young you’re just like, “Oh, I have all these problems,” and now that I’m older, I’m think, “How I can give back, how can I help? What am I doing with my life to give back to people?”
It’s like a renaissance that’s happening and I think everybody that comes here feels it.
Tell us a little more about your work with Miami’s youth.
About a decade ago before I was really able to do art full time as a job, I was painting schools. I was doing murals with drug-free programs in middle schools and painting with kids every other week all throughout Miami. I would teach kids that you can do cool shit and not have to be on drugs.
People think because I’m an artist that I’m out raging all the time, but honestly I’m usually in bed at 10 o’clock. I wake up at 5am, today I woke up at 3am. Oddly enough, I’m a very productive person and I really enjoy being productive and I enjoy working and doing something.
There’s something about waking up in the morning, there’s a certain stillness. Working so early before everyone starts even moving.
Oh, I love that. I’ll be working out and just murdering the park working out and nobody’s even there except for other people that are murdering the park and it’s super dope. That’s probably my favorite time of the day, when it’s super early, and I’m out there just doing my thing.
A lot of my stuff in the past was always about drug culture and growing up in that influenced me.
I saw a book in your house, Surviving in the Wild. Does nature inspire your art?
I like being out in nature, I think it’s important. All this man-made stuff is cool, but it’s good to be in touch with reality. It’s easy to get lost in the world. With money and taxes, and working everyday and all day, and things, and Facebook, and all this made up stuff that we have. It’s nice to just go to the woods and disappear for a while and reconnect with myself and the universe. That’s what make Miami so inspiring to me and my art.