Banksy is a pseudonymous English graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.
His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stencilling technique. Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.
Banksy's work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. According to author and graphic designer Tristan Manco and the book Home Sweet Home, 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." Observers have noted that his style is similar to
Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris. Banksy says that he was inspired by "3D", a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of Massive Attack.
Known for his contempt for the government in labelling graffiti as vandalism, Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls, even going as far as to build 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 and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder. Banksy's first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, billed as "the world's first street art disaster movie", made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film was released in the UK on 5 March 2010. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film. In 2014, he was awarded person of year at the 2014 Webby Awards.