Miami New Times' MasterMind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This week, we're profiling the 10 finalists, selected by our staff from over 100 submissions, who are in the running to receive one of three 2013 MasterMind awards, each of which comes with a fat $1,000 check. This year's MasterMind Award winners will be announced Thursday, February 28, at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
By the time he was 15, Michael Gran was surrounded by death and destruction, running with gangs and committing robberies to feed a growing crack habit. Finally, his parents took drastic action and sent him up North to boarding school.
"I probably would have ended up dead or in prison like a lot of my friends [otherwise]," says Gran, better known as Typoe, the graffiti handle he adopted before branching out to become one of Miami-Dade's most talented multidisciplinary artists.
Typoe's work is never far from the chaos of his youth. Though he was raised in a stable family -- his father, Bernard, is a doctor, and his mom, Jacki, an artist -- he was always rebellious. By the time he finished middle school, he was already tagging his moniker around Coral Gables and Kendall.
"I became that kid, the one other parents didn't want their children hanging around," says Typoe, who is now 29.
After one too many brushes with the law, his parents shipped him to the Hyde School in Bath, Maine. The school helped, he says, but when he returned to Miami in 2003, he quickly relapsed into a crack-and-heroin binge.
"After four days of nonstop abuse, I was coughing up blood and felt like I was dying. That's when I decided to check myself into detox," he says.
That decision was a turning point. Typoe has been sober ever since, and his career has exploded from Wynwood walls to fine-art galleries.
He first made a name as a member of international graffiti crew TCP, but he always had an eye on pushing boundaries. So he worked his way into Anthony Spinello's gallery by doing odd jobs: painting walls, sweeping floors, hanging art.
Spinello quickly saw Typoe had more to offer than grunt labor. His sculptures featuring human skeletons and mutlicolored explosions earned him a spot in the gallery. In 2010, one of those pieces, Confetti Death, depicting a skull vomiting rainbow bits of shattered spray-paint caps, went viral online after starring at Scope Art Fair.
He hasn't looked back. Primary Projects, which he cofounded, remains one of the Design District's edgiest spaces. Typoe was recently featured in Skull Style: Skulls in Contemporary Art and Design, a book that places his pieces alongside those by Damien Hirst and Alexander McQueen.
Now he has come full circle with his latest project: a series of white drawings about Miami's hedonistic side. "I'm using cocaine to make the drawings," Typoe says. "You can say I've switched my addictions from drugs and chaos to making art."
2013 MasterMind Award Finalists:
2013 MasterMind Award Honorable Mentions:
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.