Typoe Talks Graffiti, His Childhood, and Why He Loves Miami

Photo by Jipsy
The man called Typoe.

On Saturday, Miami's jokester graffiti artist, Typoe, debuted his second solo exhibition "Bang Bang," following last year's "I Want Typoe So Effin Bad," at the

Spinello Gallery

in the Design District. Few artists like him have the juvenile humor-meets-intellect that was pioneered by masters like Marcel Duchamp. So leave it him to create a whole show based on his elementary school journals that gave his teachers plenty of reason to worry.

Cultist caught up with him at the opening to ask him why he hasn't moved out of Miami and about his involvement in this year's Primary Flight. (View photos from opening of Typoe's "Bang Bang" here.)

New Times: How did "Bang Bang" come about?

Typoe: I don't know if you saw a couple of journal entries [in the exhibit] that I wrote when I was in elementary school, the whole show is based off that. My teacher would ask me stuff like, "If you could be one object, what would you be?" I responded with, "I would be a gun so I can shoot stuff." It's funny because a lot of these questions I answered like that when I was a little kid, and I would probably now still answer them the same way.

Detail from Typoe's childhood journal.
Detail from Typoe's childhood journal.
Courtesy of Spinello Gallery

Courtesy of Spinello Gallery
Detail from Typoe's childhood journal.
Were your teachers concerned?

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Yea. Actually, the teacher wrote, "What's going on with you? Your grades are declining." It was funny looking back after finding [the journals] in a box. It jump-started this whole show and me trying to show who I really am through my work.

You started out as a graffiti artist, right?

Yea, I started as a street artist writing my name on things.

Stenciled graffiti by Typoe around Wynwood, 2008.
Stenciled graffiti by Typoe around Wynwood, 2008.
Photo by Jose D. Duran

Photo by Jose D. Duran
Stenciled graffiti by Typoe around Wynwood, 2008.
Was it hard taking the leap from street artist to a more traditional gallery artist?

It's a huge leap, because I feel like graffiti for me should be outside and meant for the public. Inside a gallery, it's more about the concept as a graffiti writer and who I am. I see the gallery more as like I'm a teacher and this is my classroom, and I'm here to teach you about something. [Check out more of Typoe's graffiti work here and here.]

Of all the pieces in "Bang Bang," do you have a favorite?

That's hard. I love them all, but I guess the one with the [paint spray] caps coming out of the wall is my favorite. For years, I've been collecting the tops of spray cans from different artists from all over the world. Everywhere I go, different places, I just collect them and collect them until I have garbage bags full of them. It's kind of a collaboration with all the [graffiti] writers, unifying everybody.

Typoe Talks Graffiti, His Childhood, and Why He Loves Miami
Photo by Jipsy

Photo by Jipsy
You're involved in Primary Flight, right?

Yea, I'm the founder along with my business partner [Books Bischof]. We are actually opening a store/project space/office right behind Fratelli Lyon the 4141 Building right here in the Design District. It's going to be the hub for Primary Flight, and we are going to be doing branding and a lot of things with different companies. We are going to start taking Primary Flight out of Miami.

Primary Flight, still being somewhat a traditional art fair done in a non-traditional way by each piece being spread out throughout the city, how do you curate that kind of show?

It's really just bananas. We invite hundreds of artists from around the world to come and we basically curate them throughout [Wynwood and downtown Miami] on different walls. We kind of get a feel for their style, where there wall is, and who owns the building. We take all that into consideration and then we place the artist to the building. We ask a lot of questions and put them through a lot of shit. It's a long process. We've been getting ready for this year's Primary Flight since last year's ended.

Typoe Talks Graffiti, His Childhood, and Why He Loves Miami
Photo by Jipsy

Photo by Jipsy
It's a really interesting concept, because you still see some of the murals done like two years ago, while others have been painted over or destroyed.

Yea, some of them lose their color or whatever, so we are trying to build it up. We are actually working with the City of Miami to create the world's first outdoor museum, along with Wynwood Walls. We are going to have museum-style lighting on all the walls. It's going to be great for Miami.

How do you respond to people who say graffiti is not art and nothing more than vandalism?

Those people are fucking morons. They can say all the way, but I know some graffiti artists living better than people with amazing jobs. A lot of people don't understand it because it's a young art. And a lot of people don't like it because it done by the youth. We say what goes and what stays, while traditional art is run by older gallerists.

Typoe Talks Graffiti, His Childhood, and Why He Loves Miami
Photo by Jipsy

Photo by Jipsy
Many Miami artists end up moving out of Miami in search of a bigger pond like New York, Los Angeles, or London. What makes you stay in Miami?

I love Miami. I was born and raised here. I'm never going to leave. I believe in traveling around the world and culturing yourself. And I love to paint everywhere, but I'm deeply involved in Miami and making it grow. If people keep leaving, Miami is not going to get where it needs to be. If more people stay here and work with it, it's going to happen. And I think a lot of people are starting to catch on to that. That's also why we are opening the store here, to make some noise. Miami is very small. There is not a lot of money or collectors here so it's very hard for artists who want to stay here, but I can't leave. This is my home.


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