As Miami artist Typoe matures, his unpredictable work is catching eyes well beyond South Florida.
Until he was 20, Typoe was an artist of destruction. The Coral Gables-born artist was smoking crack by age 15, robbing people, and landing in jail for vandalizing property in the name of street art. “It wasn’t really art; it was just destroying things,” he says. “I did that for a solid decade—just destruction—but I think that kind of helped fuel what I’m doing now.”
Today, at age 30, and 10 years removed from checking himself into rehab, Typoe retains a street-honed edge in his art, but he’s making waves in cultural circles well beyond the spray paint community with paintings and sculptures that capture the dark side of his youth and the playfulness that comes with success by turning everything from spray can tops to milk crates and toy guns into art. After linking up with gallerist Anthony Spinello, he became a hit in the art show world, and by 2013, Typoe had collaborated with Del Toro shoes on a shoe design, curated a major public art project in a high-end retail mall in Chicago, and wowed crowds at multiple Basel-week shows with work created in a downtown studio accolades beyond anything he expected in his youth. With his rising level of success, one would think Typoe would hit the delete button on Miami, but he’s opted to stay put and help continue to build the art scene in the city he once enjoyed destroying. “I want to help Miami grow as much as possible,” he says. “There’s something major happening here.”
There are major things happening for Typoe, too. His current Art Basel show, “Game Over,” is bringing a dark humor to the “life and death” theme through drawings created with gunpowder, sculptures parodying death and consumer culture, and an installation that features a giant Twister board, a “Have a Nice Day” face to face with a bleached skull, and a neon text sculpture that quotes Walt Disney’s “To all who come to this happy place, welcome” inside a room within a room made of full black plexiglass. In the coming year, he’ll also unveil a cookie he’s creating in conjunction with Om Nom Nom, venture deeper into fashion by designing a women’s line with 10 Corso in Los Angeles, and show his artwork internationally. But no matter how far he spreads his wings, Typoe always plans to return home, and no matter how much he grows, that defiant kid inside of him will call the shots. “My work is going to be changing as I change,” he says. “If I end up making work about me going to Bed, Bath and Beyond when I’m 70 years old, it is what it is, but I doubt that will ever happen because I’m fucking insane.”