Although there are many famous artists in our lifetime, one of the most intriguing is the Britain-based artist Banksy. Banksy is not your average street artist. His controversial rise to fame includes the fact that no one knows who he actually is, and it seems that he is going to keep it that way. 30 years ago, he emerged as a graffiti artist within a graffiti crew called DryBreadZ in Bristol, later partnering with another prominent graffiti artist named Inkie. As a street artist, he was almost caught by police for vandalizing, but that particular night inspired his art style that he still uses to this day.
Banksy uses a mixture of stencil letters to spray multiple layers of paint in addition to other media sources. Those media sources included the objects surrounding his artworks, including (but not limited to) fire hydrants and street signs. This in itself makes his artwork illegal, and falls under the category of crime. Interestingly enough, the public no longer minds if Banksy uses their homes or communities as canvases. However, when he was first starting out his career, his art pieces were looked at with the same disgust and annoyance that many street artists who are unknown still face.
Just last year, I was intrigued to find that a woman in Bristol, England, had the shock of her life when she found out Banksy had painted a mural on the side of her house, making her immensely wealthier. This begs the question- are people more inclined to ignore the crime when they benefit directly from it? And, if this were an unknown street artist, would the homeowner be so forgiving after they vandalized her home? Most would say no, and I would agree. Fame is everything, and the group mentality of accepting one form of art while shunning others whose art is just as illegal as Banksy should not surprise anyone.
However, I do want to give Banksy some credit for his incredible art and lack of need for recognition. His ideas have inspired many new and experienced artists alike and his secrecy his captured the awe of the wider community outside of artists.
Banksy’s first large mural was named “The Mild Mild West,” and his artworks have only become more obscure. He often uses rats, which is an interesting comparison to himself. He paints himself as an underground entity, something that is not often seen but is very well known, and uses the cover of darkness to complete his life’s purpose. Recently, he sold some of his works for only $60, which was extremely far below market price. This just shows how little money means to him. The message getting out is of far greater importance. Another interesting thing to point out is that he sells this art that is based upon an illegal act, yet this artwork is still bought for huge amounts of money.
Overall, his artwork has inspired many and contributed to the modern acceptance and admiration of graffiti artists, and his mysterious life makes him all the more intriguing.