Ever since I had the fortune to commission a cover for Diplomat in October 2009 from one of France’s most colourful exports, Space Invader, I have been on a MISSION to visit his studio. Tuesday 26th of July at 2pm after three years of asking, I can finally say, “mission accomplished!”
Two hours on the Eurostar and a short drive later I was at Invader’s studio, I had been asked not to tell anyone the address. Invader and his team are very private and it is almost unheard of that they entertain visitors.
A chic, softly spoken, French lady greeted me in the studio, which was large and open plan with plenty of light. Mosaics are everywhere… on walls, in containers and spilled on the floor. There are A1 sized mosaics, bubble wrapped and ready to be shipped to a lucky client, heaps of ‘Invader’ trainers in a bucket (the sole of the trainer has an Invader imprint) and stickers stuck to tables. Invader’s studio is as colourful as his work.
Invader started his own version of the Space Invaders game in the mid 1990s in Paris, by creating small, coloured square mosaic tiles forming a space invader character mural. He glues them in cities around the world then documents this as an ‘Invasion’ with books and maps of where to find each Invader. There is a pile of books at the side of the room and I’m told that each will be covered with a mosaic. Every cover is hand made by Invader and every cover will be different. I ask the pretty French lady, who has been working with Invader since the beginning, how he survived financially when he was unknown… (tiles and glue are expensive) she sighs, smiles and says “I do not know how we survived. Invader is focused and passionate. He just HAD to create”.
Invaders’ most expensive piece to date is 50,000 Euros. This is an expensive piece of art although Invader and his team are obviously not just in it for the money. There is a tower sculpture on the table in the middle of the room and when I ask about this work I am told it is for a charity although Invader is not at all happy with this piece, yet.
Invader’s other project is Rubikcubism, which involves artworks being made out of Rubik’s Cubes. He creates well know faces hidden in the art and only when squinting or standing far away can you see who Invader has portrayed. Everyone in the team knows how to get what he or she wants out of a Rubik’s cube, with out cheating and taking the stickers off. I ask about Invader’s ‘Invasion’ of Katmandu in 2008 and his Rubix’s cube piece titled ‘His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’, which Invader created as a tribute to exiled Tibetans.
Our host goes on to tell us that the Rubix’s Cubes that make up the face of His Holiness are from China, symbolizing an ideal unity between the Chinese and the Tibetans. Invader is very passionate about promoting causes that touch him.
After 22 years of determination, exploration, obsession and a hell of a lot of glue, Invader has earnt his place not just in graffiti history but art history. Although I didn’t get to meet Invader, (this time) I was and am absolutely thrilled I was able to visit the studio.