The art of Persuasion is often seen through spoken or written word, but renowned artist Banksy has been able to replicate the same effect through his art. Who is Banksy? Arguably the most controversial street artist in the world, Banksy has developed an entire subculture devoted to his works (Banksy Biography). Little is known personally about banksy because he refuses to be interviewed. Street art enthusiasts are never disappointed with his art work often begging them for more.
Over his illustrious 20 year career of being a graffiti artist, his identity is still unknown to the public. Banksy is renowned for his various types of street art. His work is often of controversial images leaving us as the audience to reflect and think deeply about the topic depicted. Not much is known about Banksy, as he denies every opportunity to be interviewed and works hard to remain faceless. Banksy came on the scene in the early 1990s with graffiti crew The DRyBreadZ (DBZ) in Bristol where he is believed to have been born. As a teenager, Banksy was almost caught by authorities vandalizing when he hid beneath a truck to wait out the police. While hiding he noticed stenciled letters on the truck and in this moment Banksy made the decision to begin working in his notorious style of stenciled graffiti (Banksy Biography).
Banksy’s most common form of expression is done with stencils. The stencils are usually multi-layered often using things such as street signs or other objects to relay a message. His work is used to spread messages about philosophy, politics, and other controversial topics. In the early 2000s Banksy’s fame took off and he began work on international exhibits. Banksy traveled to palestine where he stenciled nine images on the Bethlehem wall. The images he put on the wall hit the internet and immediately went viral. The wall was a four hundred mile long, eight meters high which divides Bethlehem from Jerusalem (Walled Off Hotel). Banksy covered the wall in multiple pieces all of which held their own meaning. Such as a dove in the cross hairs of a sniper rifle.
The follow your dreams piece by Banksy is one that deserves an in depth look. It can relate to so many younger people who are working towards their dreams. This piece was put up in Boston, Massachusetts within a low poverty area of chinatown. In the piece what we see is a white-washed wall and with a man in black and white holding a paint bucket in his hand and a brush with his sleeves rolled up. The words Follow Your Dreams In large lettering next to the man are covered by a just as large sticker in red that states canceled.
The coloring has the appearance of being very dull and dismal. The only actual color seen is the defiant red cancelled sign which has the look of a manufactured sticker. By making this the only thing with color it is meant to stand out as a main point in the artwork. The particular place Banksy chose to show this work is interesting, in lower income areas the idea that the people living there don’t have the ability to follow their dreams due to financial or other reasons is a common perception. This sign is showing how society can discourage people to face reality and not to “follow their dream”. Banksy uses pathos here to with the idea of not being able to follow your dreams would create an extremely emotional message. When you think of dreams being crushed you can see the sadness in a child’s face when you tell them they aren’t allowed to follow their dreams There is also logos represented within this part of the image as well. The red logo is displayed on the very bleak washed out background allowing the message to really stand out.
The words Follow Your dreams look to be freshly hand painted in gray lettering with a man along side them, as the words have paint still dripping down the wall. The lettering fit in with the overall dull look of the artwork yet it has an appearance of being encouraging. With it being painted on an old building also helps to show that the words were meant to inspire the people nearby. Merriam webster defines dream as “a strongly desired goal or purpose” (Webster). When we were younger it wasn’t uncommon to hear things like reach for the stars or never give up. Dreams are a driving force for us as people, it what inspires us to get more out of life and the cancelled sign depicted over the phrase make dreams seem like something that can be regularly canceled, like school on a snow day.
The man who placed the cancelled has a very tired look with his shoulders hunched over and a long disappointed face. His clothing give the appearance that he has been hard at work for many hours. The man looks as though he is apart of the lower class that the message is being conveyed to. It is apparent the man isn’t happy and you can plainly see he doesn’t want to be a painter. The man probably had his own dreams he wished to accomplish but isn’t allowed to do exactly that now. Banksy is using the man’s depression to convey a message to society. There must be a change or everyone will end up like the man putting up the cancelled sign.
Banksy is a very renowned artist for his tactics in depicting controversial messages. From the bethlem wall, and other political visions he put up such as the guantanamo bay prisoner in Disneyland. His art often comes with a deep message, the piece follow your dreams is one of those. The artwork is one that pokes at thought and emotion. By telling society that they are no longer allowed to follow their dreams it stirs a mix of emotions, as well it makes you think that something has to change. Dreams are what drive us in life and without those the world is left unfulfilled.
“ About Banksy Biography .” Street Art Bio | Street Artists Biographies, www.streetartbio.com/banksy.
“Dream.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dream.
Loucaides, Darren. “Walled Off Hotel: Not all Palestinians are happy with Banksy’s Bethlehem hotel.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 10 Mar. 2017, www.independent.co.uk/travel/middle-east/walled-off-hotel-banksy-guesthouse-palestinians-bethlehem-israel-separation-barrier-graffiti-artist-a7617391.html.