Banksy is one of the most globally recognised artists. But, like anything, he didn’t get there without hard work. In fact, Banksy worked extremely hard for over two decades to get to the place he’s at now. So, how did Banksy get from Bristol street artist to multi-millionaire artist?
Who is Banksy?
Nobody really knows who Banksy is. It’s never been officially confirmed as to who Banksy is. But that’s almost part of the artist’s charm. There’s more we don’t know about the mysterious artist than we do know. However, we do know a lot about his career, which is a great place to start when wanting to know a little more about Banksy before investing in his artwork. Let’s check out how he kick-started his career…
A complete timeline of Banky’s career
The best way to get to know Banksy is by understanding his career. Luckily, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at Banksy’s career, from his beginnings, all the way to where he is now, creating artwork that is worth over £18 million.
One thing we do know about Banksy for certain is that he comes from Bristol and he started somewhere between 1992 and 1994 after being inspired by other local artists. Banksy has always had the same signature stencil style after he realised when he was young how much less time it would take to complete a piece when using a stencil.
2002 – 2003
In July 2002 Banksy was given his own show in Los Angeles. It was only a small show at 33 ⅓ Gallery, but it still got his name out there. In 2003, Banksy came amidst controversy after he painted on animals for a show named ‘Turf War.’ During the show, an animal rights activist chained herself to the railings.
Later on, in 2003 Banksy turned his attention to more traditional pieces of art. The most noticeable piece of art he did this year was to create Show Me The Monet. This painting was a satirical spin on Monet’s famous painting of his Japanese footbridge in a water garden in Giverny. To disrupt the calm of the image, and make a political statement about environmental damage, Banksy added an orange traffic cone and shopping trolley in the water. The painting was eventually sold for £7.5 million.
2004 – 2006
Banksy wasn’t stopping there. In August 2004 he created a wad of British £10 banknotes where the Queen’s head was substituted for Princess Diana’s. He also changed the text on the note to read ‘Banksy of England’ rather than the ‘Bank of England.’
In 2006, Banksy set his own record of how much his art would go for at an auction. A set of Kate Moss paintings sold in Sotheby’s London for £50,000 and his stencil work of a green Mona Lisa went for £57,600.
In 2007, Banksy beat his record high and he sold his work Space Girl & Bird for £288,000, which was around twenty times the original estimate.
In March 2008 a new piece of art popped up on Essex Road in Islington of two children pledging their allegiance to a Tesco carrier bag. It was fittingly named Tesco Generation. In the very same year, Banksy also opened his first official exhibition in New York named The Village Pet Store And Charcoal Grill. The exhibition features many animatronic figurines and animals. One included a mother hen watching over her baby Chicken McNuggets as they peck at a McDonald’s BBQ sauce sachet. Another included a rabbit putting on makeup in a mirror.
2009 – 2010
After the success of The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill Banksy opened a UK show in the summer of 2009. It was his largest exhibition yet, with over one hundred different pieces of art and moving animatronics.
In 2010 the film named ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’ was premiered and Banksy created ten pieces of art to tie in with the debut of the film. His work was displayed around Park City and Salt Lake City. The film ended up being nominated for an Oscar, but it didn’t end up winning. After the film lost Banksy responded with a piece of art in Weston-Super-Mare of a little girl holding an Oscar. Many people have suggested that Banksy is poking fun at the co-producer of The King’s Speech, Simon Egan, whose 15-month-old daughter dropped and smashed his award.
2011 – 2013
Banksy once more created a piece of art to help his home city, Bristol. He released a print of a petrol bomb that had been contained in a Tesco value bottle. The aim of this was to raise money for the victims of the violent clashes which happened over the opening of a new Tesco Express store.
In 2013 Banksy gave the people of New York a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy his work for $60. An unknown man set up a stall on Fifth Avenue that sold signed Banksy artwork for only $60. Banksy later confirmed that this was part of his plan and that the stall will not be there again. This shows that investing in Banksy art early is key. As of July 2014, two of the canvasses which were purchased from this stall were sold for $214,000.
In August 2015 Banksy opened Dismaland. This was a parody of Disneyland, but was named a ‘family theme park unsuitable for children.’ Later on in the year, the parodies didn’t stop. Banksy painted several murals in Calais, where migrants live before entering the UK. He painted Steve Jobs (Apple founder) as a migrant.
Banksy’s pandemic artwork (2020 – 2021)
At the beginning of the pandemic, Banksy released Game Changer in support of NHS staff and essential workers during the Covid-19 crisis. The image depicted a child dressed in dungarees playing with a doll dressed in a traditional nurse’s uniform, with a red cross, face mask and cape. It’s presumed this represents the phrase ‘not all heroes wear capes.’ This piece of art raised over £16.7 million for the NHS when it was sold at Christie’s.
In 2021 Banksy released the most expensive piece of art he’s ever made. Named Love Is In The Bin, the image showed his Girl With The Balloon painting, but when the hammer came down to secure a sale, the mural was partially shredded. The auction for this piece ended up lasting ten minutes before Love Is In The Bin was eventually sold for £18.6 million.
What is the future of Banksy likely to look like?
Although Banksy comes from humble beginnings, if 2020 and 2021 are anything to go by, he’s nowhere near finished yet. Banksy will likely continue creating eye-catching and politically charged murals for a little while longer. After all, he’s got his own £18.5 million sale record to beat.