HAHAMAG: TYPOE, you are known to be one of Miami’s most infamous graffiti artists. How has your surrounding environment helped you to develop your style and the content of your mixed media and graffiti work?
TYPOE: Being from Miami has influenced not only my style but who I am as a person. Miami is a very special type of place, it is sort of like its own little country. All my work is specifically about me and the Miami lifestyle that I was born into. just the visuals here are so strong that they make me think and act a certain way. From the candy painted cars with 30inch rims to all the bright and vibrant colors I see on a daily bases, it is something that it is forever a part of me. Everything that I have gone through in my life is purged into my work, whether it be acts of violence, sexual encounters, late night police chaises or whatever have you. I love this city and it will definitely always be my home, I will rep it until the day I die.
HM: You have chosen to not reveal your real name to the public. Where does your name TYPOE come from?
TP: For me it is all about the work. I view the gallery as a classroom and I use it to get a message across. I think details about who I am, what I look like, if I am a man or woman will all distract the viewer from what I am saying. I am merely a vehicle that is carrying the message. I think the work has a great importance and I just want to get it out of me.
As far as my name..I got the name TYPOE when I was about 15 from an older graffiti writer who went by TYREX. At the time I wrote MINT and my skill level was just barely scraping the bottom of the barrel to say the least. But anyways..we were painting one day and he was writing my name up for me when he stopped, looked over at me and said, ” dude, your name fucking blows, you are never going to make it with this shit”. He then said “here, take my back up tag TYPOE”. Ever since then it has been my like my first name.
HM: How do you think your work influences the next generation of artists following in your footsteps?
TP: I am usually alone working all the time in my studio or with my crew painting graffiti. I have my nose so close to the blackboard that I don’t really know what happens outside of that. If anything I would hope that my work would just teach people in the game to put themselves fully and whole heartedly into their work and be as honest as they can about it.
HM: What technique and medium do you use to execute your work and what is your design process?
TP: Most of the mediums I use are very specific to me: plastic spray can tops, brass knuckles, gold teeth, gun powder, gummy bears…etc. I try to stick with only objects that strictly relate to my lifestyle. My process usually begins with some field work. I get all my ideas from life experience, so I go out and live a little. Then I report back to the bat cave and start writing and sketching in my journal until I get everything out of my head. After that it is pretty clear to me what I need to create so I get to work!
HM: Does any of your work have deeper meaning than what is revealed to the viewer at first sight?
TP: I like to watch people as they interact with my work and see what they get out of the experience. Yes, everything I do is fully based on concepts..it just so happens that they are aesthetically pleasing as well.
HM: Your work is very vibrant and bold with shocking colors throughout. Do certain colors in your work have a particular purpose or meaning?
TP: My eye is really just attracted to bright and shiny things. Especially coming from graffiti where the whole point of it is to immediately grab your attention and visually assault you. I do have certain colors that are repeatedly used like reds, pinks and yellows..There is a certain sex appeal and allure that these colors carry. Being from Miami I see a lot of it and it is very intriguing to me. Especially when it is something so inviting yet it could possibly be something very dangerous at the same time.
HM: Do you ever use your art as a vehicle to express your own personal social or political views?
TP: I don’t really use my art for political purposes. That’s not why I’m here. It’s just about me and the lifestyle I choose to life.
HM: What do you say to the audience who sees your work as merely vandalism?
TP: As far as my gallery work goes…There are many different types of people out there, so you can’t be taken back if someone doesn’t get your work or understand what you are saying. As far as my graffiti goes..it is vandalism, so they would be right on.
* For more on TYPOE, check out his Flickr stream here.
Interview conducted by Victoria Lewis
Photos courtesy of TYPOE