The influence of artists and activists such as Jamie Reid and Winston Smith on Thayen is clear.
Jamie Reid’s work helped define the image of punk through his use of letters cut from newspaper headlines and pasted in the style of a ransom note.
He’s also an anarchist and like Thayen, ran a radical publication for years and participated in human rights direct action protests.
Winston Smith is another artist who works in the medium of collage and is best known for the artwork he produced for punk rock bands, Dead Kennedys and Green Day.
Smith's collaborations with independent record label, Alternative Tentacles, include producing logos, covers, inserts, advertisements and flyers.
Another contemporary visual artist that Thayen credits with influencing his practice is Gee Vaucher.
Together with Penny Rimbaud (who set up Stonehenge Free Festival and co-founded punk group Crass), they set-up the anarchist/pacifist open house and ‘centre for radical activity’, Dial House in Essex.
Her work with anarcho-punk band Crass is considered seminal to the protest art of the 1980s and she sees her work as a tool for social change.
Like Thayen, she uses surrealist themes in her collages and is a vocal advocate for animal rights.
For years, Thayen was employed in the heart of Soho, working at a leading advertising company. At odds with his politics, he used the opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade and was determined to use his ill-gotten gains to support his radical art and activism.
Even though it was corporate, it was still a creative environment, and he met dozens of other artists who were pursuing all kinds of creative avenues of their own and, being in the heart of London, he acquired all kinds of new influences and developed new styles of working. The experience also taught him a discipline he didn’t have before, having to produce work quickly and meet daily deadlines.
During the day, Thayen would design packaging for corporations and then at night, he would repurpose it, corrupt it and paste it up onto the streets of London.
This is also where he and his brother Liam would work through the night to finish off putting together each GuilFin monthly festival guide, often over-heating the office photocopier in the process – and quickly leaving as dawn broke, before the studio manager arrived.
With a nod to Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans paintings, Thayen corrupted it for his ‘Tory Cunts’ work. Mounted on food packaging, it made sense to him but also provided a quick way of framing artwork.
People recognise the branding and he feels this seems to make his work more accessible to the masses. Using the branding of the corporate world and corrupting it is another way Thayen deals with his ambivalent role in the advertising industry.
Like Warhol, Thayen appropriates familiar imagery from consumer culture, mass media and comic strips, challenging notions of originality and what it means to be an artist.
Located in Soho for many years, Thayen started collecting the ‘tart cards’ found in public telephone boxes, witnessing their style change over time.
Of course, sex has always been used to sell in advertising and Thayen has repeatedly displayed these cards and distortions of them, in much of his work – but not as a critique of the sex trade necessarily.
They highlight the commodification of humans in the modern world and for Thayen there’s also something nostalgic about their use, as he saw the gentrification of Soho take place and the energy of the place change forever.