In 2005, I collaborated with renowned graffiti artist Temper to produce a limited-edition 60-page book exploring his career so far.
Saatchi & Saatchi
‘I’d been speaking to a guy called Chris while preparing the Minuteman show,’ begins Temper. ‘He had an office in London he wanted me to paint. Lovely guy. He was very creative – I knew that – but I didn’t know he was a Creative Director.’ When an opening finally came up, the two arranged a date and the company’s name was revealed. ‘But I didn’t know who Saatchi & Saatchi were,’ he grins. ‘Totally alien world to me. Even when my manager showed me what they’d done, I kept it on the level of me doing something for Chris. It’s the sort of job you could get quite nervous about.’
Saatchi’s Creative Team felt their surroundings had grown stale. Temper’s open brief was to inspire them, and he had a weekend to do it. ‘Chris wanted to surprise them, so I started at 7pm on Friday and went straight through to 8am on Monday. I had two or three 45-minute sleeps, but apart from that I was painting non-stop. There were coffee machines everywhere; that’s what kept me going.’
The result is nothing short of a 45-foot-long masterpiece. ‘I wanted to link the word ‘Creative’ with the word ‘Temper’ and I thought, we both look for a reaction in what we do. That was the middle word. So the piece actually spells out ‘Reaction’, with the ‘o’ giving birth to little Trobots – representational drawings of my ideas.’ Beginning with the artist running to London with spray cans in his hands, it then launches into a multicoloured explosion of creative symbolism.
There’s a character standing in a whirlpool, holding his brain while electric sparks pulse from it. A crossroads, one route drooping to represent ideas with no mileage. But those ideas, instead of being scrunched up and binned, become a paper aeroplane that flies into the artist’s temple: ‘Even my wasted ideas are ideas,’ he says simply. A thick white border frames the work top and bottom but it bursts over the threshold in places, not to be boxed in by anyone.
Delighted with the result, Saatchi dubbed him an ‘aerosolic visionary’ and invited him back to paint the office next-door. This time he had just seven hours to spare, no large area of wall space and no clear concept in mind – his only brief was to keep to the walls. So he freestyled all over the carpet, the ceiling and the sofas. ‘They’re creative people, and they trust me making a creative decision,’ he reasons. ‘I wanted it to feel as if somebody had just come in with a couple of cans and gone bang, bang, bang. It worked really well, but was nothing like the first one.’