In the last decade, one graffiti artist has stood head and shoulders above the rest of the pack of wannabes and that is Banksy, a man who never reveals himself or seeks to publicise more than the art he creates.
Banksy has still managed to become a recognised celebrity whose work achieves hundreds of thousands at auction and is in the collection of well known figures like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. His elusiveness has shaped his persona and he has even created an Oscar nominated documentary and an into to the popular cartoon the Simpsons.
Williams Ellsworth-Jones a writer from London has now produced a book exploring the rise and rise of Banksy. Although this is an unauthorised biography it isn’t hung up on exposing the identity of the artist but presents an analyses of Banksy’s rise to fame. after all “People enjoy his anonymity. Why spoil the fun?” says Ellsworth-Jones in an interview. “Banksy’s badass persona actually influenced the biography; at one point, Ellsworth-Jones brazenly writes, “This is Banksy and none of the usual rules apply.” “Usually with a biography, what do you do? You interview the mom and dad, the brother and sister, childhood friends,” he says of the process. “Well, I interviewed some friends but not childhood friends… It wasn’t the usual type of biography. Banksy doesn’t want that side of him written about.”
“The biggest surprise to me was that Banksy was not so much a vandal, more an organisation,” says Ellsworth-Jones. “I thought of him originally as a sort of happy go lucky bloke, dodging the cops, putting up his art in the middle of the night and having a lot of fun. Well he might be some of that but he is also much more. He has an agent, a PR, a gallery where he sells work — usually by other artists he has chosen because his work sells so quickly there is none to sell — and a website where he sells his prints on occasions. He makes good money, not Jeff Koons-type money but still good money. And he has had to tread a difficult path between being both a law-breaker and a money maker.”
Ellsworth-Jones reveals the inside workings of the Banksy studio and it is “quite an operation.” Ellsworth-Jones stated; “I had to start out writing the book on the assumption that he wouldn’t talk to me. Otherwise I would have had a nervous breakdown,”. “I had to persuade friends of his that I was going to do a decent job.”
Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall has been in the pipeline for a few years. It includes email exchanges between Ellsworth-Jones and his sources as well as other escapades uncovered along the road to writing the biography.
Top Photo: Banksy in his studio 2nd Photo by Lara Ellsworth-Jones: The author additional material courtesy LA Weekly blogs