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Banksy art in Brick Lane, East End, 2004
Banksy: Sweep at Hoxton, 2008

Banksy is a prolific graffiti artist from Bristol, UK, whose artwork has appeared across the globe. The titled sections are from Banksy's books, and those sections cite those books accordingly.

Wall and Piece (2007)

  • "Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place, some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place."
  • "I need someone to protect me from all the measures they take in order to protect me."
  • "We can't do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves."
  • "I used to tell everyone I meant to be an artist..... I don't do that any more."
  • "Sometimes I feel so sick at the state of the world I can’t even finish my second apple pie."
  • "People who should be shot: Fascist thugs, religious fundamentalists, people who write lists telling you who should be shot. "
  • "We don’t need any more heroes; we just need someone to take out the recycling."
  • "Think from outside the box, collapse the box and take a fucking knife to it."
  • "If you want someone to be ignored, then build a life-size bronze statue of them and stick it in the middle of town..."
  • "Art is not like other culture because its success is not made by its audience. The public fill concert halls and cinemas everyday, we read novels by the millions, and buy records by the billions. 'We the people' affect the making and quality of most of our culture, but not our art."
  • "The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art. Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say. When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires..."
  • "Become good at cheating and you never need to become good at anything else."
  • "I got home at last and crawled into bed next to my girlfriend. I told her I'd had an epiphany that night [about using stencils] and she told me to stop taking that drug 'cos it's bad for your heart."
  • "I sucked a lot of breasts to get where I am today."
  • "T.V. has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress."
  • "People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish. But that's only if it's done properly."
  • "People who get up early in the morning cause war, death and famine."
  • "Conversations don't get any better as you get older."
  • "Try to avoid painting in places where they still point at aeroplanes."
  • "'There's no way you're going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover.' — Metropolitan Police Spokesperson"
  • "Nobody ever listened to me until they didn't know who I was."
  • "The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules. It's people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages. As a precaution to ever committing major acts of evil it is our solemn duty never to do what we're told, this is the only way we can be sure."
  • "After sticking up the picture I took five minutes to watch what happened next. A sea of people walked up, stared and left looking confused and slightly cheated. I felt like a true modern artist."
  • "You can win the rat race but you're still a rat."
  • "I like to think I have the guts to stand up anonymously in a western democracy and call for things no-one else believes in—like peace and justice and freedom."
  • "A lot of people never use their initiative because nobody told them to."
  • "Remember crime against property is not real crime. People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access."

Pictures of Walls (2005)

  • "Graffiti is like boxing. The people who do it 'professionally' tend to go round in circles pulling the same old moves all the time. The real entertainment takes place on Amateur's night. That's when you get to watch the bitter and twisted unleash all their pent-up frustrations on an unsuspecting public in a desperate attempt to make some kind of point before collapsing under a cloud of their own blooded spit."

Cut It Out (2004)

  • "People are taking the piss out of you every day. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you. You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity. Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head. You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don't owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs."
  • "If you only ever read one book in your life I highly recommend... keeping your f***ing mouth shut." [sic]
  • "The anger management is not working."
  • [Letter received to the Banksy website:] "I don't know who you are or how many of you there are but i am writing to ask you to stop painting your things where we live. In particular XXXXXX road in Hackney. My brother and me were born here and have lived here all our lives but these days so many yuppies and students are moving here neither of us can afford to buy a house where we grew up anymore. Your graffities are undoubtably part of what makes these wankers think our area is cool. You're obviously not from round here and after you've driven up the house prices you'll probably just move on. Do us all a favour and go do your stuff somewhere else like Brixton. -daniel" [sic; name and address not withheld]
  • "The human race is an unfair and stupid competition. A lot of runners don't even get decent sneakers or clean drinking water. Some runners are born with a massive head start, every possible help along the way and still the referees seem to be on their side. It's not surprising a lot of people have given up competing altogether and gone to sit in the grandstand, eat junk food and shout abuse. What we need in this race is a lot more streakers."
  • "people who enjoy waving flags don't deserve to have one." [sic]
  • "Bloodthirsty people should bite their tongues."
  • "When the time comes to leave, just walk away quietly and don't make any fuss."
  • "Fight the fighters, not their wars."
  • "Love Poem / Beyond watching eyes / With sweet and tender kisses / Our souls reached out to each other / In breathless wonder // And when I awoke / From a vast and smiling peace / I found you bathed in morning light / Quietly studying / All the messages on my phone"
  • "As soon as you meet someone you know the reason you will leave them."
  • "DANGER / CONTAMINATED AREA / RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL" [Fake sign glued into St. James' Park, next to Buckingham Palace, 2004. Became an unlikely collaboration with the Metropolitan Police who made it look far more realistic by stationing a community support officer on the bridge nearby telling people not to be alarmed. Lasted 22 hours.]"
  • "People say painting graffiti doesn't change anything, but the GLA committee found that 'house prices can drop by as much as 10% in badly affected areas' so it's worth bearing in mind if you want to get on the property ladder."
  • "I'd been painting rats for three years before someone said 'that's a clever anagram of art' and I had to pretend I'd known that all along."
  • [Description of a stuffed mouse dressed as a graffiti artist that Banksy snuck into the London Museum as an exhibit:] "The Banksus Militius is a virulent pest that marks its territory with a series of elaborate signs. Professor R Langford of University College of London states, 'Laugh now but one day they may well be in charge'."
  • "In a recent survey of American men 42% were found to overeat, 34% were critically overweight, 10% technically obese, and 8% ate the survey."
  • "My sister threw away loads of my drawings when I was a kid and when I asked her where they were she shrugged and said 'Well it's not like they're ever gonna be hanging in the Louvre, is it?'"
  • "Suicide bombers just need a hug."
  • "The problem with painting in Zoos is that it's slightly too effective. They tend to get rid of it as soon as possible. I'd had enough when the rope ladder into the Chimpanzee enclosure at the Sydney Zoo snapped and I fell into the moat getting a mouthful of monkey piss. By 10am the next morning the words 'Please help me get out of here I am the victim of a cruel scientific experiment... I am not a monkey... Somebody do something' had been completely painted over. The solution was to write stuff on cardboard and throw it into the enclosures when no one was looking. Then you just sit back and listen to the explanation parents give as their kids ask 'Why don't we just let them go home if they want to, mummy?'"
  • "Mindless vandalism can take a bit of thought."
  • "When graffiti first started it was about getting noticed. But with inflation 'getting noticed' is worth almost nothing these days. Now you have to be a genuine nuisance if you want to get along."
  • There's a famous story about a hobo who hitch-hiked the freight trains across the Australian outback many years ago. He marked his trips by writing the word 'Eternity' everywhere he could in elaborate chalk handwriting. He wrote on so many train cars, bridges and pavements that all across Australia he became part of urban folklore. In 1999 Sydney led the world celebrations for the arrival of a new millennium, and as the eyes of the world watch a spectacular firework display lit up the harbour, at its very center, spanning the length of its famous bridge was the word 'Eternity', spelt out in that same elaborate script by a thousand tiny lights. Fucking sell out." [lightly edited for grammar]
  • "It's going to take one very special lady, or a whole load of average ones, to get over you."
  • "I think I was trying to make a statement about the endless recycling of an icon by endlessly recycling an icon."
  • "People seem to think that if they dress like a revolutionary, they don't actually have to behave like one."
  • "Why would someone just paint pictures of a revolutionary when you could actually behave like one instead?"
  • "Some mothers will do anything for their children, except let them be themselves."
  • "Recipe idea: take on fire extinguisher and pour out all the contents. Mix down a nice bright emulsion paint to the consistency of full fat milk, stirring constantly to remove any lumps. Pour into the extinguisher, screw on cap tightly and write on things up to 50 feet high. Re-use by swapping over the CO2 charged canister (costs about one pound). The perfect accompaniment to a night out drinking heavily with friends."
  • "An illegal monument to the British talent for binge drinking and vandalising public property."
  • "Oh my god, that's so cute the way you just draw on stuff and think about yourself all the time."

Existencilism (2002)

  • "Nobody ever listened to me and I used to think that was their fault. Eventually I got to realise maybe it was the fact I was boring and paranoid that was the problem. But you find that people who know you rarely listen to a word you say, even though they'll happily take as gospel the word of a man they've never met if it's on a record or in a book. If you want to say something and have people listen then you have to wear a mask. If you want to be honest then you have to live a lie."
  • "Being yourself is overrated anyway. It doesn't help. People say 'I'm just being myself' as if that's some kind of fucking achievement. That's not an achievement, that's not honesty, it's just a lack of imagination and cowardice."
  • "Last year there was a story on the news that went 'A man arrested in Central London today was found to be carrying over a hundred British passports, twenty birth certificates and more than three hundred driving licenses. Police say they have not yet been able to identify the man...'"
  • "There are four basic human needs: food, sleep, sex and revenge."
  • "All artists are willing to suffer for their work. But why are so few prepared to learn to draw?"
  • "Painting something that defies the law of the land is good. Painting something that defies the law of the land and defies the law of gravity at the same time is really good."
  • "On my first day of work as a pork butcher the boss showed me a side of meat and said 'just treat the animal like you treat the ladies.' He then hacked off part of the rib cage with a swing of his cleaver, threw it in a polystyrene tray, pulled some cellophane tightly around it, bounced it off his knee and threw it over his shoulder into a bucket. It turned out he hadn't had a girlfriend for over two years."
  • "I was concerned the piece was a bit too much like a legitimate sign and told my mate I thought it went over people's heads. 'It's not that it goes over people's heads,' he said, 'it's just that they all fucking ducked.'"
  • "There's nothing more dangerous than someone who wants to make the world a better place."
  • "Policemen and security guards wear hats with a peak that comes down low over their eyes. Apparently this is a psychological technique, because eyebrows are very expressive, they let you down if you're lying or trying to bully somebody. You have far more authority if you keep them covered up. The advantage of this is that if makes it difficult for your average cop to see anything more than six foot off the ground. Which is why painting rooftops and bridges is so easy."
  • "On Tuesday I went around San Francisco dressed in overalls designating large parts of it as legal graffiti areas."
  • "Dissent pays the rent."
  • "As far as I can tell, the only thing worth looking at in most museums of art is all the schoolgirls on day trips with the art department."
  • "This is not a photo opportunity."
  • "Twisted little people go out every day and deface this great little city. Leaving their idiotic little scribblings, invading communities and making people feel dirty and used. They just take, take, take and they don't put anything back. They're mean and selfish and they make the world an ugly place to be. We call them advertising agencies and town planners."
  • "They say there is a graffiti problem. The only problem with graffiti is that there isn't enough of it."
  • "Imagine a city where graffiti wasn't illegal, a city where everybody could draw wherever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a living breathing thing which belonged to everybody, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like this and stop leaning against that wall - it's wet."
  • "Superficially his work looks deep, but it's actually deeply superficial." [Evening Standard]

Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall (2001)

  • "Bus stops are far more interesting and useful places to have art than in museums. Graffiti has more chance of meaning something or changing stuff than anything indoors. Graffiti has been used to start revolutions, stop wars, and generally is the voice of people who aren't listened to. Graffiti is one of those few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don't come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make somebody smile while they're having a piss."
  • "Only when the last tree has been cut down and the last river has dried up will man realize that reciting red Indian proverbs makes you sound like a fucking Muppet."
  • "A wall is a very big weapon. It's one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with."
  • "My main problem with cops is that they do what they're told. They say 'Sorry mate, I'm just doing my job' all the fucking time. And every time someone says 'if it was down to me it would be ok, but I'm following orders' a little bit inside of you dies. If you say it as often as cops do, then there isn't much left."
  • "People are fond of using military terms to describe what they do. We call it bombing when we go out painting, when of course it's more like entertaining the troops in a neutral zone, during peacetime in a country without an army. Why all the bombs? Because it's healthy to think about bombs all the time, because it's difficult to get your head around the fact that humans have the hardware available to make their entire species extinct. Nobody talks about it anymore but they say this is why we've all become so into money, because at the back of all our minds we all know that the atomic bombs have taken our future away from us."
  • "Getting paranoid is an occupational hazard of illicit street painting, which is good. Your mind is working at its best when you're being paranoid. You explore every avenue and possibility of your situation at high speed with total clarity. I'm not interested in looking at things made by people who aren't paranoid, they're not working to their full capacity."
  • "Graffiti ultimately wins out over proper art because it becomes part of your city, it's a tool; 'I'll meet you in that pub, you know, the one opposite that wall with a picture of a monkey holding a chainsaw'. I mean, how much more useful can a painting be than that?"
  • "You could say that graffiti is ugly, selfish and that it's just the action of people who want some pathetic kind of fame. But if that's true it's only because graffiti writers are just like everyone else in this fucking country."
  • "Writing graffiti is about the most honest way you can be an artist. It takes no money to do it, you don't need an education to understand it and there's no admission fee."
  • "They say big brother is watching you. But maybe big brother is watching dutch girly videos on the next screen along."
  • "There are no exceptions to the rule that everyone thinks they are an exception to the rules."
  • "I like ironies unless they're real. I was arrested for painting a picture about corruption over a billboard. As a result I spent 40 hours in a cell with the cops taking the piss and telling me lies, followed by a spell of community service and a hefty fine for which I never got a receipt and no record appeared to be kept."
  • "I think I was lucky to learn so young that there's no such thing as justice and there's nothing you can do about it. The more useful lesson I learnt was that there's no point in behaving yourself. You will probably be punished for something you never did anyway. People get it wrong all the time."
  • "They say that if you gave monkeys a thousand typewriters at some point you'd have yourself a novel. I was wondering if you gave a thousand monkeys a thousand stick of dynamite how long would it take for them to make the city a more beautiful looking place."
  • "Doing what you're told is generally overrated."
  • "'Only boys with small dicks paint pictures of big guns' - a girl in the pub overlooking Mono Lisa [holding a rocket launcher], Soho"
  • "Someone famous once said 'It takes two people to make a piece of art. One person to make the art and another person to stop them from destroying it.' Which is a more poetic than saying: 'It takes two people to make a piece of art. One person to make the art and another person to come round later from the council and sand-blast it off."
  • "It's great when you love someone so much you can sleep with other people behind their back and it doesn't even matter."
  • "Every time I hear the word culture I release the safety catch on my 9mm."
  • "Pace yourself and repeat [graffitiing] as often as you feel inadequate and no-one listens to a word you say."
  • "Some people think you should have better things to think about than trying to think about better things. But the instinct is still there."
  • "At least graffiti has a fighting chance of meaning a little more to people. Graffiti has been used to start revolutions, stop wars and generally is the voice of people who aren't listened to. Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. and even if you don't come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they're having a piss."
  • "Well I'm frustrated by many things but trying to get accepted by the art world isn't one of them. This seems difficult for some people to understand - you do not paint graffiti in the vain hope that one day some big fat tory will discover you and put your pictures on his wall. If you draw on walls in public then you are already operating on a higher level."
  • "Nearly a hundred pictures are featured here. Each and every one of them a pathetic cry for help." — The Guardian

Other sources

  • "A lot of people think that scuttling around stenciling images onto buildings in the middle of the night is the action of a sad, frustrated individual who can't get attention or recognition any other way. They might be right, but I've done gallery shows and, if you've been hitting on people with all sorts of images in all sorts of places, they're a real step backwards, painting the streets means becoming an actual part of the city. It's not a spectator sport." — Tristan Manco, Stencil Graffiti
  • "The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists.. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little." [taken from Adbusters magazine]
  • "Some people want to make the world a better place. I just wanna make the world a better-looking place. If you don't like it, you can paint over it!" [1]
  • "I pretty much use sketchbooks to note down great ideas of somebody else I've just had. A good sketchbook means you don't actually need to bother with having a memory yourself. You can get away with a fair bit of substance abuse if you always carry a notepad and a sharp pencil around with you." [from "Street Sketchbook" by Tristan Manco]
  • "The craft is finding a decent drainpipe to get access to the site as much as it is in the art... Van Gogh used short, stumpy brush strokes to convey his insanity - I use short, thin ledges above mainline train tracks." — Evening Post, 2004 (taken from "Home Sweet Home - Banksy's Bristol" by Steve Wright)
  • "You could stick all my shit in Tate Modern and have an opening with Tony Blair and Kate Moss on roller blades handing out vol-au-vents and it wouldn't be as exciting as it is when you go out and paint something big where you shouldn't do." — The Guardian, 2003 (taken from "Home Sweet Home - Banksy's Bristol" by Steve Wright)
  • "[I first picked up a spray can] the day someone ram-raided the Halfords round the corner from our house." — Venue magazine (taken from "Home Sweet Home - Banksy's Bristol" by Steve Wright)
  • "I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time." [2]
  • "Is graffiti art or vandalism? That word has a lot of negative connotations and it alienates people, so no, I don't like to use the word 'art' at all." [3]
  • "I can't help feeling it was a bit easier when all I had to compete against was a dustbin down an alley rather than, you know, a Gainsborough or something." [2]
  • "When the paintings suddenly started going for, like, really big money it definitely weirded me out, and I kind of went away to the middle of nowhere and I stopped making any more paintings. But the whole time the auction houses were just selling paintings that I’d done years before and sold for not much money. Or paintings that I traded for a haircut or, you know, an ounce of weed and they were going for like 50 grand." (lightly edited) [2]
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  1. Artist throws anti-Jubilee party, BBC News, Retrieved 2 November 2018
  2. a b c Banksy In His Own Words- Interview At The Sun,, Retrieved 2 November 2018
  3. Who The Heck Is Banksy, Mission Local, Retrieved 2 November 2018