Making news this month is the inventive Banksy exhibition entitled “Dismaland”. For those who know Banksy, you’ll understand that any time this globally recognised and anti-establishment street artist hosts an exhibition, it gets exposure. This time has been no different.
In a press statement to journalists, the artist described the exhibition as “a festival of art, amusements, and entry level anarchism”. It had been alleged that the artist had been working on a site in Weston-Super Mare resort; Somerset England on what would be his first exhibition since 2009.
His ability to make news globally and still conceal his identity is part of the allure and intrigue for the world. His shock tactics might not be to everyone’s taste but the guy is original, there’s no denying that.
A history of Banksy
For those who don’t know the man/woman that is Banksy, here is a quick history from Biography.com, Wikipedia.com and Smythsonian.com.
Banksy, a street artist whose identity remains unknown is believed to have been born in Bristol, England, around 1974. He rose to prominence for his provocative stencilled pieces in the late 1990s. In the late ’90s, he began using stencils predominantly.
His work became more widely recognized around Bristol and in London, as his signature style developed. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stencilling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.
Pest Control, the tongue-in-cheek-titled organization set up by the artist to authenticate the real Banksy artwork, also protects him from prying outsiders. Hiding behind a paper bag, or, more commonly, e-mail, Banksy relentlessly controls his own narrative. His last face-to-face interview took place in 2003.
Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls and self-built physical prop pieces. Banksy does not sell photographs or reproductions of his street graffiti, but art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location for hundreds of thousands of pounds, and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder.
What has he done?
Here are a few examples of Banksy at work.
What can we learn as brands?
There are more than a few takeaways to find when observing and analysing Banksy. He is a masterful marketer, though he’d probably hate to read that. Banksy holds close a set of values that guide him and all that he does, including the statements he makes through art. But he finds a way to wrap around those authentic statements, masterful marketing campaigns that draw crowds and gain exposure. He is in control and the world loves him for it. Here are four takeaways to consider
I haven’t seen an artist create hype like Banksy. His ability to use social media and the press is genius. In 2013, Banksy advertised a residency in New York with 31 days of installations. In the lead up, he released teasers to build expectation and hype and by the time the 31 days began, he captivated the city in a treasure hunt of installations throughout the city every day. He literally took over New York City for a month.
Finding your voice is challenging but Banksy has found his, and what’s more, he remains consistent and intention in making statements that align to that voice. He also chooses to amplify the statements he makes with exaggeration. His statements are strong and cause him to stand out, making even the least discerning critic to completely understand him.
3. The Why
It’s clear to all that Banksy is not about the money. How he makes money and how he funds his exhibitions matters little to people but what engages us as interactive observers is this feeling that he doe it for the right reasons. People are attracted to authenticity.
4. Go to Them
In a world where exhibitions are curated and kept in expensive buildings ticketed for high society, and difficult for the masses to access, Banksy has made a name by taking art to the people, with (illegal but) engaging art in plain sight.