Banksy is a quasi-anonymous English graffiti artist. He is believed to be a native of Yate, South Gloucestershire, near Bristol and to have been born in 1974, but there is substantial public uncertainty about his identity and personal and biographical details. According to Tristan Manco, Banksy "was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England. The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s." His artworks are often satirical pieces of art on topics such as politics, culture, and ethics. His street art, which combines graffiti writing with a distinctive stencilling technique, is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris and members of the anarcho-punk band Crass who maintained a graffiti stencil campaign on the London Tube System in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His art has appeared in cities around the world. Banksy's work was born out of the Bristol underground scene which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.
Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti. Art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder.
Banksy's "The Flower Chucker" is included in the feature film The Age of Stupid to represent all modern art stored in an archive after the end of the world as we know it.
The most recent piece discovered, as covered by the media, was on July 15 (2009) when a teenager, Jamie Collins, and his uncle, Laurence Lewis, found a Gangsta Rat in Whitechapel, East London.
Naked Man image by Banksy, on the wall of a sexual health clinic in Park Street, Bristol. Following popular support, the City Council have decided it will be allowed to remain.
Banksy started as a freehand graffiti artist 1992–1994 as one of Bristol's DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), write Kato and Tes. He was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene. From the start he used stencils as elements of his freehand pieces, too. By 2000 he had turned to the art of stencilling after realising how much less time it took to complete a "piece." He claims he changed to stencilling whilst he was hiding from the police under a train carriage, when he noticed the stencilled serial number and employing this technique soon became more widely noticed for his art around Bristol and London. Stencil on the waterline of The Thekla, an entertainment boat in central Bristol. The image of Death is based on a 19th century etching illustrating the pestilence of The Great Stink.
Banksy's stencils feature striking and humorous images occasionally combined with slogans. The message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment. Subjects include rats, monkeys, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly. Anarchist rat.
In late 2001, on a trip to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, he met up with the Gen-X pastellist, visual activist, and recluse James DeWeaver in Byron Bay, where he stencilled a parachuting rat with clothes pin on nose above a toilet at the Arts Factory Lodge. This stencil can no longer be located. He also makes stickers (the Neighbourhood Watch subvert) and sculpture (the murdered phone-box), and was responsible for the cover art of Blur's 2003 album Think Tank.