Street artist and creative director Typoe has evolved. He's not just making pieces as a "fuck you" to society anymore. Now he's creating art that has a lot of personal meaning to him. As one of the co-founders of Primary Flight and a curator of many of the murals you see in Wynwood, he's helping to shape the city we live in.
"We have these young, motivated people," the New Times Mastermind Award finalist told Cultist recently. "We could've easily gone to New York or L.A. or everywhere else where everyone was going and make tons of money. But we're staying here and we're making it work and making Miami better."
And now Typoe's adding a new title to his resume: shoe designer. Typoe has teamed up with local shoe mogul Matthew Chevallard of Del Toro shoes for a limited edition (of 12, then of 50 in back order) wingtip exclusive to the Webster Miami. Though it might look festive, the design is really about death and the scene at a funeral. We caught up with him to discuss his inspiration, relationships, and fashion.
- Mastermind Finalist 2013: Typoe
Cultist: Had you been wanting to break into the fashion industry? Or was it just kind of an organic transition for you?
Typoe: Well it was very organic. I'm just a naturally collaborative person. Especially being bred from Spinello Projects. He and I collaborate so well, for years. And that's kind of how I was brought up in the art game: collaborative and open and responding to things. It's not just showing my work somewhere. It's me responding to something that's happening. It's me taking something that's there and talking about it and opening up a dialogue. I think that's important. And I enjoy fashion. I like buying shoes and suits. I like buying jewelry, gold teeth, watches, whatever. I like nice things.
How involved were you with the design and creation? I noticed that no two pairs would be alike.
Yeah. He showed me all the shoes he had. I really enjoyed the wingtip (dress shoe). It almost looked like I spray painted all over it, like abstract expressionist. It's got these really cool details that when you get up close to it, it reels you in. I wanted to use the floral because I think that's something that's very traditional. Every artist in his or her lifetime does a religious piece or a Jesus piece, still lifes, florals. It's just something that we do, whether it's in training or just on our own time just because it's just out there. How can you not do that at least once? It's in your face all the time.
So what then inspired you to go floral as opposed to religious or in another direction?
I was doing some abstract floral paintings in my studio at the time, and to me they were more like funeral arrangements. It was kind of dark. I was going through this period where a lot of my friends had died. So out of mourning for them, I was kind of creating these floral pieces that were monuments to my friends. And then once we started talking about the shoe, it just kind of made sense. The bottom of the shoe is like a stacked leather, so it's like a dark chocolate [color]. So I'm kind of looking at it like the bottom of the shoe--the base--is kind of like a table. And then the colors on the top, on the actual leather, are like these flowers sitting on a table. So it's kind of like a traditional still life to me, but a little abstract.
It almost feels like it's less dark than you're painting it out to be because flowers at funerals are supposed to celebrate the life of the person.
Yeah, it is. And it's tough because when you lose somebody it's a very weird thing. They're there and then they're gone. I think that that's something that everybody can relate to. As dark as a lot of my art can be I guess--some people can say some of my stuff is very aggressive -- it's just real. I just talk about what I know, and what I know is life and experience. That's a huge part of life. We've all had friends and family that have passed away at one point or another. It's a tough thing to deal with and a tough thing to think about.
So in that respect, what are you hoping people get out of the shoe? Are you hoping it also starts some kind of dialogue?
Yeah. I think everyone responds to it in his or her own ways. Maybe some girl got flowers and then got dumped on her birthday. You know what I mean? There are so many things that people go through. I just want to put it out into the world, and you take it for what it is. So many people have relationships with flowers.
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Are you really involved with the design? Were you able to tweak the design?
Oh yeah, totally. It's my name at the end of the day. It's his name and my name, and I can't put my name on something that isn't my design or my vision. If it doesn't look good, I just don't want to be a part of it. I think that's why we worked so well together, because Matt wants it to be excellent. And you know, that's what I'm fucking with. [Laughs.]
The Typoe x Del Toro Shoes collaboration will be available in limited release (of 12) exclusively at the Webster Miami on April 27 for $375.