Man One never knew that working with 5 Seconds of Summer would make him an Internet meme. But after he painted for an hour and a half in a mysterious live stream on the band's website, he now has his own Facebook group, fan Twitter account and a nickname: the "braided one."
That name comes from a section of the 5SOS Fam in Italy, who fancied his hairstyle while he was spray-painting a brick wall to reveal the single art for "She's Kinda Hot" for millions of fans to see. But just a week earlier, the artist -- who started graffitiing the streets of Los Angeles in 1987 and founded his Man One company in 1994 -- had no idea he'd be so popular with teens on Twitter. 5SOS' crew only called him with the gig offer last Friday, five days before the single announcement, and they kept everything top secret, telling him that he couldn't even show his 15-year-old daughter the design he'd be painting.
"They sent me the image the day before so I could buy all my paint and get the right colors," Man One told MTV News, calling from L.A., where he'd done the painting. "It was very hush-hush."
He wasn't familiar with the Australian band until he asked his daughter -- "She's my go-to music person for anything current," he said. "And she was like, 'Oh yeah, I totally know who they are.' The first thing she asked me is, 'Are you going to meet the band?'"
Man didn't get to meet Michael, Ashton, Calum or Luke. In fact, he didn't even know where they were. "I didn't know if they were in town, I didn't know if they were next door, I didn't know if they were going to come out and meet me. I had no idea about anything like that," he said.
Man, wearing a black hoodie, started by drawing an outline on the wall, and fans watched as he slowly painted the band's name and the rest of the design, which was later revealed as 5SOS' new single. But as the minutes ticked by, he started to become a celebrity in his own right. Even after the art was finished, fans started photoshopping his head on cartoons and dubbing him "treccina," or "the braided one," in Italian.
"It's insane," he said. "I had no idea how dedicated they are. They're blowing up my Instagram like crazy. This is the most feedback, comments, most followers I've gotten on a single thing ever."
He says he and his daughter are having fun with all the feedback, and laughing at all the memes people are coming up with.
"They're posting all these funny ass pictures and memes of me. I'm on Nicki Minaj, on a banana," Man said. "And then there's a fake Twitter page about me now. It says 5SOS Graffiti Man and that guy on Twitter already has more followers than I do on Twitter. I have 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls following me from all over the world, like 'We love you. This is awesome.'"
The performance reached more than a million views at one point, but Man wouldn't have known. Even though he's done live performances before for the Warped Tour and MTV (yours truly), he couldn't tell he had an audience this time.
"When I paint in front of a crowd, it's a performance, not just painting," he said. "In this situation, I was restrained by a couple different things: 1. there was no audience so I couldn't vibe off of that, 2. I was getting cues on how long it should take me to paint."
There was a small crew on set telling Man to take longer to build up hype. He says he could've finished in an hour, but he also could've taken much more time on it -- "They told me to slow down or speed up. I could've tweaked it more and gone in and really detailed everything."
But in the end, the 5 Seconds of Summer fans got their announcement. And while Man One already has a perfectly cryptic name, to those who were watching that day, he'll always be 5SOS Graffiti Man.
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