Who is Banksy?

Graffiti art

What springs to mind when you think of graffiti? Dirty walls daubed in fluorescent spray paint, furtive characters with hooded jackets lurking by night at bus stops, railway stations or shop fronts? There is no doubt that graffiti is considered by many to be a public menace and an ugly eyesore, but in recent years more and more people have opened their eyes to the subversive and uniquely artistic power of the spray can.


Take the case of the mysterious British graffiti artist, Banksy. Originally from Bristol, his politically subversive black and white stencils peep out of dark alleyways and announce themselves in bold type face across bridges in many of Britain’s towns and cities. Whether it’s a stencil of a monkey carrying weapons of mass destruction, a queen’s guard urinating in a corner or a rat parachuting out of a drain pipe, Banksy’s brand of ‘art for free’ creates a seemingly personalised experience in a very public space.

Album cover

Whilst Banksy’s identity is meticulously concealed, due to the illegality of his work, he has become the UK’s most celebrated graffiti artist and, more recently, sculptor. He successfully bridges the divide between the street and the commercial art world. Although he has yet to sell any of his work to the likes of London’s Saatchi Gallery, he famously designed the front cover of British band, Blur’s Think Tank album and is hotly sought after, so far to no avail, by big companies such as Nike. Banksy’s first ever official exhibition ’Turf War’ took place in Dalston, in the heart of London’s trendy east end, in July 2004 at the inconspicuous Thumbnail Gallery 1. His work also appeared in the British Council’s political design exhibition, ’Upfront and Personal’, which showcases three decades of political graphics from the UK and South Africa.

Commissioned art

Like it or loath it, Banksy’s work is hard to avoid and seems to be gathering momentum in the UK as well as overseas. Indeed, such is the growing popularity of well appointed graffiti art in the UK, shop owners are commissioning artists to spray paint their shop awnings with brightly coloured designs to avoid less desirable forms of graffiti such as the elaborate spraying of signatures called ‘tagging’. In many of the UK’s towns and cities, local authorities and individuals have provided small areas as designated graffiti sites so that high-quality art can be produced without risk of prosecution.

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3 thoughts on “Who is Banksy?

  1. James

    This is very interesting – we are so looking forward to welcoming the students to the school. I didn’t know that Banksy did the front cover of Think Tank by Blur!

  2. Pau

    To me Banksy is another way to see graffiti. In my opinion, he is the best by doing graffiti and without knowing his real name on this page you can recognize his works. Banksy teaches you everything you need to know about this artist and his great graffiti.

  3. Anna Martínez

    Before the project I didn’t know anything of Banksy. Now, I like his work and I can recognise when I see it in a wall. I think that his work is great and very original.

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