I've tweeted a couple times about Tempt One, a true Los Angeles graffiti king, who has done a lot for the graffiti culture. Thanks to Spie, I've had the honor of communicating with Tempt through email. This doesn't sound like such a big deal until you find out that Tempt is completely paralyzed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS). He can only move his eyes. Every word you see here, every image, was created with only his eyes.
Tempt has graciously written a short synopsis of his writing career and of his battle to overcome ALS. Please share this inspirational story far and wide, especially with those people who always seem to have excuses for why they haven't been doing their art lately.
My name's Tempt, and I'm a graffiti writer from Los Angeles. I began writing in the early 1980's. My crew FB and I initiated the all-city freeway writing movement that blossomed to include later writers like Oiler COI, Gkae MSK, Ayer LTS and Saber AWR. I also push K2S-STN, one of the first crews in Los Angeles known for fusing the indigenous cholo writing culture of East Los Angeles - which dates back to at least the 1930's - with NY stylewriting, to create a uniquely Los Angeles style whose influence can today still be seen in almost every L.A. crew, as well as throughout Cali and the southwestern U.S. in general.
I've painted with many of L.A.'s most notable writers, and later met, became good friends with - and had a lot of fun - spending several years painting with some of North Cali's best writers, including Racus and Gigs FSC, Josh, Grey, Twist THR, KR, Some, Crayone TWS, Spie and the legendary Dream (R.I.P.) TDK.
Bay Area writing culture has always been special to me, ever since I rode the MUNI in the early 80's and saw the amazing handstyles, executed with Pilots, Uni-Wides and Mini-Wides, flooded with every Marsh ink imaginable. I've always had the greatest respect for the sense of community I witnessed in the Bay writing scene, which laid the foundation for a vibrant, strong graffiti culture that continues to flourish and innovate to this day. Bay writers are rooted in their history, and the Bay writers from my generation continue to shape the newer generations coming up.
When I returned to L.A. in the early 90's, I brought back with me a desire to affect community change at the grassroots level, using writing culture as a platform to address the issues affecting the inner-city. I began getting involved in community murals, mentoring youth, curating art shows, working with non-profits (the Peace and Justice Center, the Social Public Art Resource Center, etc.), and building alliances within the often hostile and violent L.A. writing community. My work addressed gang violence, police abuse and ''at-risk'' youth. The spirit of community and DIY attitude of the Bay scene was one of numerous factors in my decision to start BIGTIME MAGAZINE in the mid 90's. BIGTIME was the only hardcore writing mag to come out of L.A. throughout the 90's and into the beginning of the millenium. It was distributed worldwide, and focused on skill, style and originality, as well as the socio-political issues affecting Cali writers. My aim with BIGTIME was to foster a sense of community in the graf scene, ground young writers in their history, showcase the illest styles, facilitate dialogue and bring a higher consciousness within the scene. The magazine is credited with many firsts, along with a loving tribute to KING DREAM TDK.
In 2003 I was diagnosed with ALS, a neuromuscular degenerative disease that renders the patient fully paralyzed. I slowly lost all movement in my body, and by 2005 I was fully paralyzed and bedridden 24/7. The loss of mobility and personal freedom was devastating. Prior to my paralysis, I felt a profound sense of fulfillment being of service to the community, and that - coupled with the loss of my ability to paint and draw - left me with a sense of emptiness.
Earlier this year, however, a tight crew of hackers who dig graffiti - known as Graffiti Research Labs (GRL) - got together with Not Impossible by The Ebeling Group (TEG) to create software that allows me to draw with my eyes, which is how I was able to bust the ''pieces'' you see here.
I can't even begin to describe how good it feels to be able to rock styles again, and through my art I've been able to raise awareness about my disease, ALS. I've since participated in several art shows in Norway, Tokyo and next week in Vienna. All proceeds from the sales of my art go directly to the TEMPTONE ALS FOUNDATION, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people who suffer from my disease.
Art is a tool of empowerment and social change, and I consider myself blessed to be able to create and and use my work to promote health reform, bring awareness about ALS and help others. This would not have been possible without the support of my family, my crew, the wider graffiti/hiphop community, and the prayers from my spiritual community.
In the indigenous culture, the concept of ''mitakuye oasin'' - the inter-relatedness of all things - is not an intellectual concept, but a prayer that acknowledges all life in the universe. It is the principle that sustains the whole community, where each individual sacrifices for the greater good of all. I am honored to be a part of the graffiti/hiphop culture that has done much to promote change for the community. We all come together to help each other, and that's dope.
Support local businesses. Be responsible for what you put in your body. Start growing your own food. Don't support products or businesses that are harmful to you and your environment. Take care of your health.
If you'd like to donate or get more information about the TEMPTONE ALS FOUNDATION, go to: temptone.wordpress.com
To peep Tempt's graffiti art, go to: temptone.com or: myspace.com/temptone
For more information about the software Tempt draws with, go to: fffff.at/eyewriter
To learn more about Graffiti Research Labs, go to: graffitiresearchlab.com
To learn more about ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's Disease), go to: alsa.org