118 // TAG ALONG

Ocean Drive - - Contents March 2017 - BY BECKY RAN­DEL

Mi­ami na­tive Ty­poe made a name for him­self tag­ging walls with graf­fiti. Now he’s go­ing global, eye­ing the fu­ture, and de­sign­ing a fur­ni­ture line.

MI­AMI NA­TIVE TY­POE MADE A NAME FOR HIM­SELF TAG­GING WALLS WITH GRAF­FITI. NOW HE’S GO­ING GLOBAL, EYE­ING THE FU­TURE, AND DE­SIGN­ING A FUR­NI­TURE LINE.

In 2006, three bud­ding artists took it upon them­selves to es­tab­lish an out­door gallery in the then-iso­lated ware­house dis­trict known as Wyn­wood. They ne­go­ti­ated with land­lords, begged fel­low artists to con­trib­ute, and bat­tled the city to make it hap­pen. Ty­poe Gran was one of the three. He, Books Bischof, and Cristina Gon­za­lez called them­selves Pri­mary Flight. “We hus­tled day and night to get each and ev­ery wall—it was a full-time job,” says the artist now known sim­ply as Ty­poe. “We had no idea that it was go­ing to be a cat­a­lyst for gen­tri­fi­ca­tion.”

As Wyn­wood de­vel­oped into the city’s first out­door mu­seum of street art, Ty­poe’s name be­came syn­ony­mous with the move­ment. But the mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary artist never con­sid­ered graf­fiti his medium. “For me, it was more like a sport,” he says. In re­al­ity, he had been creat­ing fine art since he was a child grow­ing up in Coral Gables.

Un­for­tu­nately, Ty­poe had some other ado­les­cent in­ter­ests as well: drugs, al­co­hol, and get­ting into trou­ble. At 15, his par­ents sent him to the pro­gres­sive Hyde School in Maine, which “pretty much saved my life,” he says. He fi­nally checked him­self into re­hab at 20 years old and has never looked back. “Go­ing sober was my defin­ing mo­ment, when I said, ‘Goals—i’m go­ing for it.’” He fo­cused on sculp­ture, learn­ing as he went. “I would just use things around me. Then I would put it to­gether and make sense of it.”

By 2010, the newly chris­tened Mi­ami Arts Dis­trict was the coun­try’s hippest neigh­bor­hood, the same year that Ty­poe—guided by gal­lerist An­thony Spinello—sold a piece at Art Basel Mi­ami Beach ti­tled Con­fetti Death.

“MI­AMI HAS BEEN GO­ING THROUGH THIS RE­NAIS­SANCE, AND WE’VE BEEN DO­ING OUR BEST TO PUSH IT IN EV­ERY WAY WE CAN.”

—TY­POE

It was an­other lifechang­ing mo­ment.

Since then, the artist has had ex­hi­bi­tions in Mexico, Cuba, and Ar­gentina (at the Faena Ho­tel in Buenos Aires). He has de­signed a line of shoes for Del Toro, toured with Skrillex as his art di­rec­tor, cre­ated an in­stal­la­tion in­side the Faena Bazaar, and de­signed a col­lec­tion of jack­ets.

And to­day Ty­poe’s ca­reer is com­ing full cir­cle as he re­turns to the out­doors. “Right now a big fo­cus of mine is pub­lic art,” he says. “I want peo­ple to be able to drive by my work, or go to a park and see it.” Be­hind the scenes, he and his part­ners have re­tooled Pri­mary Flight as Pri­mary, an art col­lec­tive and gallery, which he views as a way of giv­ing back to the city that made him. “Mi­ami has been go­ing through this re­nais­sance, and we’ve been do­ing our best to push it in ev­ery way we can.”

Also ever-chang­ing is the art world and the grow­ing role played by so­cial me­dia. “A lot of my sales hap­pen just be­cause of that,” says Ty­poe of his care­fully cu­rated In­sta­gram feed. “There’s noth­ing wrong with do­ing what you love and mak­ing money from it… It’s art­work—there’s art and there’s work. But I stay true to who I am. I’m not go­ing to sell out and start mak­ing things that don’t make sense.”

Next up? A fur­ni­ture com­pany, de­but­ing in Lit­tle Haiti, where he now lives. Ex­pect it to re­flect who Ty­poe is as a per­son and ex­tend his work as an artist. “I al­ways ask my­self this ques­tion: If I die next week, if I die to­mor­row, am I happy with what I’m leav­ing in the world and my con­tri­bu­tion?” @Ty­poe

Ty­poe at the open­ing re­cep­tion— pre­sented by the Mi­ami De­sign Dis­trict bou­tique APT 606 and Spinello Projects— for an ex­hi­bi­tion of his works.

The artist’s first solo ex­hi­bi­tion in Latin Amer­ica, “Forms from Life,” pre­sented his lat­est body of work at the Faena Arts Cen­ter in Buenos Aires.

“Forms from Life” of­fered a dream­land of fa­mil­iar shapes turned sur­re­al­is­ti­cally mon­u­men­tal. ƛƞƥƨư: The works’ bright trop­i­cal colors evoke Ty­poe’s home­town of Mi­ami.

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