Born 1979, Rafael "Tony" Medina is a 5th generation native of Key West, Florida. From a young age he was inspired by his grandfather, Danny Acosta, who was the creator of the famous Key West landmark, the Southernmost Point Buoy.
Rafael, from the age of just 10 years, channeled this inspiration in a slightly different way than sign painting. Being surrounded by the beautiful tropical land and seascapes in the islands of the Florida Keys, he was inspired to paint natural sceneries and tropical creatures, and soon found himself featured in news articles and magazines over the following years, celebrating his growing artistic talents.
Later in life he pushed the boundaries of his painting style and started creating art through a unique process that can be described as abstract expressionism and interactive artwork, while always remembering the encouraging love and mentorship of his famous grandfather.
“Two things he taught me how to paint right away, palm trees and far away birds. And to this day, I’m painting palm trees and far away birds. They’re in every painting I do, just about.” Rafael Medina on Grandfather, Danny Acosta
Rafael is a self-taught artist; even without having had the years of technical training it would typically take to build such an artist, Rafael exhibits an impressive, natural ability and understanding of composition, dimension, color theory, and luminosity.
For years, Rafael sold his paintings on the streets of Key West, as well as the nightly Sunset Celebrations at Mallory Square, until fans’ demand for a wider range and larger sized works increased.
Currently, Rafael’s artwork is offered and distributed through several galleries and retailers in Key West and on mainland. Rafael's Island Boy Arts Studio Gallery is in historic Old Town Key West where he paints live 4 to 5 times a week, to the delight of new and long-time fans and collectors.
The latest addition of Rafael’s Island Boy Arts Fine Art Gallery at Custom House Inn on Duval Street offers some of his most recognized and sought-after Originals Artworks and Limited Editions.
As a celebrated figure in the local art world and a champion for Island life, Rafael has gained the love and respect of his local community and fellow artists, as well as tourists who visit the islands and bring his artworks back to their homes and workspaces across the globe.
In 2019 he displayed his work in Wynwood Miami during the Art Basel.
He has created four logos for the very famous 7 Mile Bridge Run in Marathon, Florida, and is honored to have Keys Federal Credit Union feature three of his paintings on their Visa Credit Cards, for which Rafael and Keys FCU received the prestigious National Diamond Award.
The newest 2023 Logo for the 7 Mile Bridge Run will be revealed soon!
“Painting gives me ultimate joy, and the fact that it gives others that joy, too, makes us connected forever, we share the painting together, this is why I absolutely have to do this. It’s the connection.”