Meet Miami’s finest master, a true Contemporary genius, whose experiential and interactive works are subsequently hanging on the walls and gracing the collections of some of the world’s most influential art collectors.
At fifteen years old, Michael Andrew Gran was not the typical Miami boy. He had major aspirations and dreams. Most kids of that age look forward to a crazy party life, mixed with a great college education followed by a future of a 9 to 5. However, Michael, who is known as TYPOE among the vast international community of fashion designers, artists and collectors, well, he was a gentleman whom had his very own vision.
In becoming the hugely successful artist that he is today, TYPOE’s approach to conquering the contemporary art market was not that of the average master of this generation. He believed in teaching himself through self-education, sharing “I really wanted to learn the world. I did not believe in going to school and paying someone to show me the way people did it. So, I dove face first into my personal and extensive collection of art books,” and the rest is history.
Meet TYPOE, the critically acclaimed thirty-three year old, with a story to be desired, and a man with dreams that have not only become his reality, but surpassed all of his, and our, expectations.
TFB: TYPOE, tell me about how this all began. Where did you study and learn the tools to become the artist that you are today?
Typoe: I didn’t go to college I felt like if I went to college, I would be doing a safety job. I was always infatuated with the old masters’ ways of doing things. I had a fascination with a Belgian artist named Jan Van Eyck from the 1390’s. I had also decided that I really wanted to learn the world through experiencing it. I did not believe in going to school and paying someone to show me the way people did it. I went and bought the old books, and I have an art library. A local artist Tao Rey taught me early on not to reinvent the wheel nor recreate the same sort of works as everyone else.
TFB: So, has creating art been your only job in life? When you were young was it all that you wanted to do?
Typoe: No, it is actually funny. Growing up in Miami, I worked in various jobs, like in construction. I also worked at Don Pan, and even at Parrot Jungle for one day, but I quit. I sold furniture for two years at West Elm. I also volunteered with DFYIT, a drug-free youth program in town, and mentored middle school kids on how to paint murals. I explained how important it is to be an artist without getting fucked up.
TFB: How beautiful that you give back to the local community! Tell us about your sobriety.
Typoe: I have been Sober for thirteen years. To me, helping kids, helps me with my sobriety. When I got sober at the age of twenty, that was when I got serious with my work. I realized I had purpose, and the meaning of life had become so different
TFB: And have you always lived in Miami?
Typoe: Miami was a different world. I nearly moved to New York City, but I ended up staying because I love Miami SO much.
TFB: So considering you are a local of the Magic City, what galleries here represent your work, and speaking of your work, aside from art, tell us about the TYPOE collaborations.
Typoe: I am a free agent, so I have no representation. It has been so amazing, I have been commissioned by private clients to art dealers from different cities, so I am just working on constantly creating.
Regarding my collaborative projects in fashion, they were all unique and I loved every single project. I love what I did with Del Toro, where I designed a dress shoe with him in 2014 and that led me to a few projects that are in the works. Getting into fashion and having brands interested, is what keeps me going. Oh, and fresh off the press, I think you must know that I have a sneaker coming out in the near future with Haitian designer Fabrice Tardieu.
TFB: TYPOE, over the past years, you have been doing many projects with the hottest family in the hospitality world, the Alan and Ximena Faena. You first worked together in Miami than in Argentina and most recently at the Faena Art Center during Art Basel. Tell us ALL about it!
Typoe: The first project I did with the Faena’s, was at their property called Casa Claridge on Miami Beach. I took the opportunity to recreate the stuffy elevator experience by outfitting the entire space in iron, so it was magnetic and so, I covered it with magnets. I believe in engagement and playful experiences. As people played, they would leave messages, and future people who would enter, would see it.
After the elevator project, they asked me if I wanted to do a solo show in Buenos Aires. I was like ‘why are you even asking me, you know its yes?!’ (he hysterically laughs). When I saw the space I knew what would go in there.
TFB: OH WOW! A solo show. Superb! How long did the project take to execute?
Typoe: The whole project took five months, and I fully understand what the term ‘it takes a village,’ means.
It was a really awesome experience. I had met the right people, and everything fell into place. The platform they gave me made me feel majorly accomplished. I finally got to execute my work on a scale that I had dreamt of, and until you can actually create your works on a massive scale that they afforded me, you just never understand it.
My show in Argentina had a huge purpose, which was to respond to the world. Currently, it is off. A big problem is how we learn and retain info. As children, we learn, a lot of information. Some are right, and some are wrong, hence my building blocks. The whole point is learning how to play with space, interact with others, create and live. Many people get lost early on and take too much or don’t work together. Not to be an asshole, but people can be fucked up, and it is the parents’ responsibility. Like, if your parents are racist, you may be too, and especially in the times we are living in today, it is SO important for us to educate. I created an adventure for adults, so people can go on a journey of self-discovery and reflect and respond to their world. How do they choose to build it?
My exhibit also consisted of Ravens and tombstones, hourglasses, to reference life, time and death, referring to ‘what the fuck am I doing with my life.’ It was the first time that I have gotten any sort of political view out. My work had been more personal. It is my voice and what I have to offer.
TFB: So, back to Miami, tell me about your Art Basel project.
Typoe: The Faena’s asked me to design a functional space at the Faena Bazaar. I had never created a space that was catered around eight brands, and so that was a whole new experience. It was all around fascinating because, by nature, I am a collaborator. This is why I like working with brands, teams, people, other than myself.
TFB: So what is happening now?
Typoe: I am here in my studio is in little Haiti and I just renovated my new house, so I am in the nesting phase with my rescue pup Emma, who is the best assistant ever!
I am currently working on a few new things, including a new series and some commissions. I am also just creating works, in the form of sculpture, light boxes, text, and it is all exploratory, not for a show but for myself.
TFB: And last but not least, explain a bit about your role in Primary Projects.
Typoe: Primary Projects, a gallery owned by a group including Cristina Gonzalez, Books Bischof, and myself. I am a partner, and work mostly with the artists and on shows, but we all work on it together. Our paths cross between creative, business and vision. Right now we are working with Kelly Breez, a female artist who is local and her show opens this month. She has a show at Locust Projects, that is also opening at the same time as ours. It is across the street and we will all work together as a community.