In Response to Craig Ward's Response to Banksy

I feel a bit silly about defending someone who really needs no defending. I believe Banksy is one of the best artist, not just of our generation, but of all time. (For now, ill leave it at that.) The stencil letter "M" in my logo is a tip of the hat to him (though also a common general street art aesthetic); his black and white stencil style. So as you can imagine, ill side with Banksy in a lot of issues, not blindly just because i like his work, but because we have the same views on a lot of issues and i strongly connect with his artistic ideas.

Banksy gives his take on advertising
Thats a link to an article where Banksy goes on a little about "Brandalism" (which ive written about before) that was in his book Wall and Piece. So what would an artist who thrives on controversy be without a little more controversy? Banksy is a little over the top but, like his work, you cant take his words at face value. Theres something deeper to them and if you only glance at it, you'll miss the point. Enter Craig Ward, who wrote a response here:

First, i cant say Craig is "wrong" exactly, he makes many valid points. I mean, how is a street artist who ask no one for permission to do their art which is displayed in public not supposed to sound hypocritical when bashing advertisers on "brandalism"? Craig makes the paralel of Banksy's art and advertising writing

Now, as far as I see it, the very act of putting your work in the public eye – say on walls, street corners, in alleyways and underpasses etc – is, effectively advertising it by virtue of people being able to see it at all. Exposure is advertising. And unless I’m much mistaken, the only product you’re selling is yourself.

The last time I checked, The Advertisers at least had to pay a lot of money to use the public spaces that their wares occupy – unlike yourself who has decided to remove yourself from that model in the name of art and anti capitalism.

The problem i have here is that Banksy isnt advertising himself via artwork. I can see the other side sure, the more work he does the more his name stays relevant and that work may be protected by the city (making it a permanent fixture) or he can continue selling other pieces at over $1 million. But again, thats at face value and only the icing on the cake for Banksy. You're missing the point if you dont see the message. His work is mostly inspired by social injustice and world problems (war), mixed in with a good bit of humour. His work dosent call attention to himself (as jealous, attention seeking, tag-thugs such as Robbo are concerned with) but is there to make you think, to make you notice something important. Thats not what McDonalds does with a billboard. i dont believe Banksy is quite as anti-capitalism as his work at first glance suggest. i believe he is anti-bad art, and anti-bad product. He dosnt take on the products and people who do good in the world, but has issues with those who sell you poison and if you think fast food is anything less, you're sadly mistaken.

Mr Ward goes on to say

Another criticism often leveled at advertising is that it steals from artists and plagiarises ideas, where as your work is merely ‘inspired’ by one artist; Blek Le Rat. Which I guess is OK. And the fact that you’ve made a comfortable living from it is also fine. I feel like it’s a convenient irony though that the only people who can now afford to own your work are the ad-land Creative Directors and City boys that you so eagerly rail against, while at the same time selling your own brand of rebellious, anti-establishment cool.

Craig's criticism i mostly just disagree with, except with this part where i think he is simply wrong. Blek le Rat and Banksy had the same problem, and Blek was first to find the proper solution. Banksy had no need to reinvent the wheel here. They wanted to be able to post their art so it read clearly and most importantly could be applied quickly. the black and white stencil (sometimes a wheatpaste) was a simple and convenient answer. Banksy has never been about style or great craft, he's about communicating messages. These two guys are certainly not the only two to use this technique, in fact i would say most street artist at least start out with black stencils or wheat paste. As for "selling his brand", yea i probably agree with that. Banksy's go for $1million at auction now. But i dont see that "cheapening" his work. He does seem to have a great sence of humour so Banksy may just be talking about himself now when he does something like this. . .

Im fine with that. because the art dosent hold any less truth then it would if he were a homeless bum. Banksy is all about the message.

As a child of the 80′s I grew up surrounded by cigarette advertising, yet I’ve never bought a pack in my life. I’ve seen car ads every day for 30 years and I’ve never bought one of those either. That’s as much as I can say about myself, but its clear to me that you’re ignoring the fact that people have a choice in what they buy – if they buy anything at all – and that they actually like buying things. They work hard for a living and purchasing something other than basic food, utilities or clothing gives them a sense of achievement; that their hard work has paid off in some capacity.

Its true, you dont have to buy everything you're advertised by, but thats not to say it isnt effective. How many times do you see an ad for something (taco Bell late at night) then decide you want it? advertising works, and no one is immune to it. Look closer at Banksy's work. When he takes on McDonald's its usually featuring children. And the message is right.

Regarding ‘the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen’ that you mention, you must be referring to the office fax machine? Having seen agency life, I can attest that there’s nothing Machiavellian going on; no illuminated map of the globe and no sinister plot to take over the world; just a bunch of people trying to make a living.

i believe Banksy was referring to the technology we use to make advertising on the technology we use to view it. Its all wasted on garbage and things that really have no value. You can live without an Audi, an iPhone, a Big Mac, etc. These things are truely not important for a happy and just life. This is coming from a guy who takes on racism, gay rights, and "the man" with a concrete wall and paint. To see his disdain for the bombardment of capitalist advertising is clear to me. He also talks a lot about "wasted potentiel". I think thats what he's referring to here as well.

Banksy, keep doing what you're doing. The impact you've made on the world is far more important than anyone in advertising has done. People who recognize the messages and ideas of your work, and who have felt something from it (much better than food poisoning) will probably agree, its worth a million dollars.

UPDATE: its all been resolved between the two: article link