small talk // artist tipi thieves


 anna wintour // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

anna wintour // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

* my pal * felipe merida, or tipi thieves, is a brooklyn based visual artist, illustrator and graphic designer. he was born in guatemala and moved to san francisco as a teen. since his english wasn't very good, academic subjects were tough and felipe barely finished high school. however, his creative passion landed him a fine arts scholarship at the san francisco art institute. after a year of struggling with the conceptual/analytical aspect of the program, felipe transferred to sheridan college in toronto, canada to study illustration. after graduating, he found a job in the fashion industry working as a graphic designer. his career took him all over the u.s. and introduced him to inspiring people in the industry.

felipe merida now lives in brooklyn with his wife, renata, and baby boy emilio. in december 2011, he exhibited his first solo show tipi thieves at ed. varie gallery in the east village. a year later he hosted his first pop up show polar at open house gallery on the bowery. in august 2013, felipe exhibited a series of monochrome portraits of hasidic jewish families. that same year, he was also part of a group show at paul loya gallery in los angeles. in 2014, felipe exhibited rappers at the converse new york design office. this past summer, he hosted his third pop up show called thank you, which included watercolor paintings of iconic plastic bags found in brooklyn + manhattan. this post features felipe merida's collection of illustrations entitled after hours, presenting portraits of iconic people in the fashion industry.

 grace coddington // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

grace coddington // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

cultureisland: tell us more about tipi thieves and after hours.

felipe merida: tipi thieves is me as an artist. having a background in graphic design, i created an identity for my personal work. a logo that could be recognized as my signature and associated with my art. tipi thieves stands for originality that depicts our cultural surroundings. the new collection after hours is a study of individuals. the title is literal and very personal. i race home [after work] to draw my next subject - it's exciting for me and a form of meditation, a release from my day job. i wanted the format to be consistent, a single person placed centrally on a white page, with no foreground, background or shadow. i don't want any distractions around the subject. fashion is the field i work in and i love to illustrate clothing, suggest folds and fabrics through my mediums and focus on details like shoe laces and buttons. i try to capture the polished vs. the worn in... the subjects themselves are people i admire, or have an interest in. they are successful, smart + have an individual sense of style i want to capture.

 mister mort // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

mister mort // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

cultureisland: what is your artistic process?

felipe merida: my obsessive eye is always searching for an image that will become the basis of my next drawing. i start with an outline sketch, already with a vision of the finished piece. my illustrations are built up of layers, detailed labored areas sit next to expressive ink washes. i improvise throughout - making decisions intuitively.  my goal is to capture the essence, personality and spontaneity of the image - without feeling staged.

 willy chavarria // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

willy chavarria // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration?

felipe merida: culture, art, films, blogs, music, fashion, the city, my daily routine. 

 hiroki nakamura // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

hiroki nakamura // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

cultureisland: who are your favorite artists?

felipe merida: francis bacon, raymond pettibon, jonas wood, toyin odutola and brendan donnelly.

 michael gerner // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

michael gerner // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

cultureisland: what's your favorite place to see art in nyc?

the guggenheim, chelsea art galleries and book stores - around the world, there's one in chelsea that i cannot remember, they have really cool magazines & zines. 

 ralph lauren // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

ralph lauren // tipi thieves // ink + watercolor on heavy paper 15" x 20"

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

felipe merida: keep your face radical monthly mix by tyson schenk. vince staples. sadgirl. bangers on XXLMAG.com.


* illustrations are by tipi thieves // felipe merida // check out more of his work here, like him on facebook here and follow him on instagram here *