Graffiti gets a bad rap. And for the most part, I agree. The majority of the street "art" we see around us everyday is being done by amateurs without a purpose or message who simply want to put their ridiculous, illegible tag up for the world to see, with the hopes that they can become local graffiti celebrities. That, my friends, is not art.
Then you get the true street artists. The ones who can change the side of a building into a piece of art. Who can put up the most amazing mural you've ever seen using spray paint. The ones who actually make you stop and think about what you're seeing before you. That, I do believe, is art.
When it comes to street artists, no one is more respected or well known than Banksy. Although no one knows his real identity (street art is, after all, illegal) he has grown in popularity, first in the UK and Europe, and now here in the US. Using life-size stencils and paint, he is known for his controversial statements on political and social norms. He is truly one of my artistic heroes. He uses humor to take risks and force people to question authority and society; something I hope my photography will one day do as well. Most of his work has a message, some of it is just clever. A lot of people consider him to be a menace or a prankster, but his goal is simply to create art for the people. There's no admission fee, no lines, no hype. You either like it or you don't, but either way its democratic in that anyone, at any time can view it just by walking down the street.
My boyfriend received the coffee table book Banksy: Wall and Piece as a gift about a year ago and it wasn't until recently that I picked it up to see what was inside. I was familiar with Banksy before this, but after reading his book and gaining a better understanding of his point of view and the background behind some of his work (including how long some of the pieces stayed up...very interesting) I fell in love. Even if you don't have an interest in street art, or consider it to be more vandalism than art, I urge you to flip through it if you get the chance. At the very least I promise you will be entertained and amused by what you see. Most of his work is stencils, some of it are build-outs. Its pretty impressive the lengths he goes for some of his installations. Here are a few of my favorites:
Pictures from Banksy Unmasked