Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist and film director who has managed to become one of the world's most recognized artists while remaining relatively anonymous.
Staying true to the credos of street art, he has built a celebrated body of work, both permanent and impermanent, that utilizes satire, subversion, dark humor, and irony to create resonant social, political, and humanist messages for the masses on a populous and public level. His style is universally familiar, founded on a signature stencil aesthetic that has elevated him from mere man with a spray can to a highly creative artist in his own right. He is responsible for catapulting guerilla work into the mainstream as a viable form of art.
Banksy's artistry lies in his ability to use hilarity and ironic wit to ruse viewers into considering the original gravity of his messages about capitalism, advertising, politics, and humanity. It is this very sense of childlike desire coupled with audacious, conspicuous truths about our times that lift him to a role as strong social intermediary all under the pretext of art.
The instability and impermanence of Banksy's chosen canvas, i.e. the street and improvisational pop-up public places has defined him as one following guerilla art's philosophy. His art validates a particular social sector or market.
Banksy chooses to remain anonymous partly because it eliminates the artist stature as celebrity and puts all his focus on the messages he transcends through the artwork he creates. It also allows for the freedom of telling one's unapologetic truth without regard to consequence.
Because graffiti is illegal, Banksy's work continues to raise questions in the social sphere about the lines between public art and vandalism. If his work on the side of a building becomes a collectible, protected piece while another less known street artist is jailed for performing a similar action.
Banksy’s art can impact any location at any given moment. His identity remains unknown, even after over 20 years of being involved with the graffiti scene. He has worked with many different types of street art media and his work not only includes many powerful, often controversial images, but they may also be found throughout the Internet as viral images.
By the age of 18, Banksy began to develop stencils after nearly being caught vandalizing public spaces by police. As his crew fled from the scene, Banksy was stuck hiding beneath a garbage truck. It was at this time that Banksy saw stencil letters on the truck. Looking for a faster way to paint, Banksy decided stenciling would be his new graffiti type.
The most common form of street art Banksy uses is stencils. These are often in the form of multi-layered stencils and/or combined with other media sources, such as spray-paint. He also includes anything found in the streets like street signs and other objects to convey his message by crafting beautiful street art installations. His artwork is often ironic and combines dark humor with graffiti and also spread messages across art, philosophy, and politics.
By the early 2000s, Banksy relocated to London, where he began to gain notoriety and even worked on a series of international exhibits. Ultimately, he decided to travel to Palestine and the West Bank, where he stenciled nine images on the Bethlehem Wall. These images were an immediate hit and virally exploded in the Internet.
Very little is known about Banksy himself, as he refuses to be interviewed and keeps his identity carefully maintained. A world-renowned mystery man, Banksy has risen through the ranks to become one of the world's greatest street artists partly by creating an urgency to understand his character.
Banksy’s artwork has been seen across the world. His travels have included Australia, England, the United States, Israel, Jamaica, and even Canada.