The art of ‘tapenology’

By Roshan Nebhrajani for The New Tropic


Marcus Blake is Miami’s ultimate renaissance man. He’s an artist, a painter, an event organizer, poet, musician, and a writer. You’ve probably encountered his art in some form without realizing it.

A master of subtlety, Blake’s work can be found on t-shirts, in magazines, and most recently all over the walls of Little Haiti and Little River. He’s previously worked as a fashion designer and even started his own clothing line. He then moved on to performance art, hosting the beloved “The Imperial” open-mic night at the popular, and now closed The Vagabond and The Stage.

Blake’s most recent project brings color to the walls of Little Haiti and Little River. His vibrant, geometric pieces can be found boldly wrapping full walls, or peeking out of small corridors and alleyways. We learned a little more about Blake and what inspires his many talents.

How did you get started as an artist?

I was born in Jamaica and I moved to Miami when I was about 8 years old. As I got older, I started off by working in fashion. I designed a clothing line and I was a fashion designer for the South Beach Times. I started to write and paint on the clothes, not really thinking that I was an artist.

I got more and more into poetry and switched from fashion and got into writing. I hosted my own open-mic night between The Vagabond and The Stage, and I did that for about 8 years until they closed down. Then I was ready for a transition, so that’s when I really got into painting.

But in between all of these things, I never completely stopped the others. While I was designing, I was still writing. And while I’m painting, I’m still doing other things. For example, last night I did an avant garde play at Inhale Miami. So, I don’t work in just one medium.

How do you describe your current work?

I call it “tapenology.” It always starts the same way — you have to prepare the surface of the building and shave away the air pockets. I won’t tell you the whole process, but basically the colors underneath are all spray paint, and the geometric patterns are all made with tape.

It was just something I felt like I had to create. and I’ve always done it in some form. I just decided to finally take it to the streets last December.

The first one I did is actually not there anymore. It was on 71st St. and NE 2nd Ave, but the building just got painted over. The second one is on NE 2nd Ave. as well. It’s on a gas station on 76th St. That one is totally different from the stuff I’m making now. It’s not painted underneath.

Though they look similar, each piece is personal and the art evolves over time.With each piece I make, I learn things. I think it’s like a high form of meditation. That’s why the art looks very geometric, like I’m in a clear mind frame.

It takes about 6-7 hours to do the taping. Just the first section of the last one that I did took almost 9 hours to tape down, then an additional 3-4 hours to paint. It’s like a full time job. I wake up, drink my coffee, leave by 7 a.m., and then I work for 7–12 hours straight.

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