MIAMI — What did the tattoo say to the painting? Tupicalo. Born in Detroit, Mich., raised in Miami, Tupicalo is a master pastelist, custom tattooer and mural composer.
He also was among the innovative African Diaspora artists featured by the Art N Soul Gallery at the Miami Artexpo +Solo in Midtown during Art Basel.
His is a unique story. “My art career started very early,” Tupicalo said. “I would create paper mache animals, as well as drawings (of) cartoon heroes.” Soon his work was popular enough that “I’d barter my art for candy.”
As he progressed as an artist with the support of his family, he said, a cousin encouraged him in the direction of tattoos, “and I’ve been tattooing ever since.”
Then came a detour of sorts, when Tupicalo was 17 years old, and charged with armed robbery.
He was released in July after 15 years in prison — also after he took correspondence courses while in prison, started a successful prison art program, and turned his life around as a model prisoner painting hundreds of works of fine art.
While in prison, Tupicalo said, “I was able to focus solely in my art, a very rare opportunity that thankfully I utilized. And in so I moved into pastels in 2004. Since then I’ve fallen in love with creating realism to various degrees with pastels, from photo realism to minimalism. There’s something about pure pigment and the way light reflects off them. And I love the fact I get to create with the minerals in the earth. So in some way I feel my works are small pieces of Eden. Created from the Land.”
It was Al Huggins, a fine art consultant who as the owner of Art N Soul exhibits artists’ works across the nation, who was impressed by Tupicalo’s and invited him to exhibit as part of Huggins’ gallery space at the 34th annual Artexpo Miami that concluded Sunday.
Art n Soul works with artists through all stages of art production and seeks opportunities for them to display their talents. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to present their art work and I look forward to engaging with art lovers,” Huggins said.
Today, Tupicalo can be commissioned for pastel portraits and/or custom tattoos at tupicalo.com, artnsoul.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a founding member of the Artist of the Golden Guild, who has been commissioned for portraits in various private collections, and is a featured artist in Hollywood City Hall.
Catch Tupicalo and other Art N Soul artists next at The Harlem Renaissance Traveling Exhibit in Sunrise, Jan. 21 – Feb. 21, 2013.