Is Banksy Overrated? Some Street Artists Seem to Think So

Every time when someone mentions even the slightest interest in street art, you can bet that the name of Banksy will also be mentioned within the next two minutes or so. Most of these times, it will be the first name that comes up from the world of street artists, especially with people who admire the field from a distance and aren’t really all that immersed into it. But while it’s easier to remember particular works than names – especially if you’ve seen the works firsthand or if they feature a topic or a reference you like – it’s still easy to remember the name of Banksy.

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I don’t know exactly what makes it so. Perhaps it’s his fame in the first place, perhaps it’s the elusive air of a concealed identity that contributed to the myth building and now he’s such a myth in the scene that we don’t really care or remember how it was before the Banksy craze even started. (For those of you which might be appalled of the go-to assumption of gender, please take note that there have been a few seemingly legit interviews with the artist and while he still withheld any identification details, he confirmed to be a man.) The concealed identity and the somewhat subversive message of his art – even more subversive than street art is in itself – definitely contributed to the image of a modern day Robin Hood patrolling the cities and symbolically sticking it to the man. Perhaps that is the main reason for which Banksy has become such a huge favorite. But could it be that his days of glory have passed? Is Banksy overrated? Let’s see what recent street art trends seem to indicate.

One of the nicest recent moves related to street art, which we also covered here, is transforming street art works into GIFs. This way, the merger of street art with the other relevant field of today, which is digital culture and digital art, can be complete. Our post about it also featured an awesome Tumblr account which focuses only on Banksy’s works and transforms them into ingenious and creative GIFs, almost like breathing new life into them. Therefore, we can assume that the artist is definitely still relevant at least to one insider of the street art culture, if we only count the maker of the GIFs and not his many fans as well.

But in spite of this rather distinguishable exception, the general impression is still that most people who are in the know about street art consider Banksy overrated and a bit passé. He seems to remain a cult hero or a name to drop for extra points only for those of us who are really completely outside about street art in general and have only recently come to terms with the fact that graffiti is not vandalism. As for the street artists themselves who are the most likely to predict trends and reflect the general feeling in the field, the number of those who consider Banksy overrated seems to be on the rise.

Little mischief acts like this one are becoming more and more frequent, in spite of the fact that his works are now protected by the law. In the eyes of many street art enthusiasts, perhaps that is just one more detail that makes Banksy overrated and no longer relevant, since the main purpose of street art should be, theoretically, to defy the space it will adorn. When the art itself becomes protected by law and its altering constitutes an instance of vandalism, it kind of lost its mojo, wouldn’t you say?

A Refreshing Idea: GIFs made from Street Art

There is more to the world of street art than Banksy’s works, and our street art section here strives to continuously prove it. One of the best things about street art, as I’m sure many of its fellow fans will agree, is the way in which it integrates a social message into its literal, esthetic form. No longer was art something for the elites, something abstract and often hard to decode; the moment art descended into the streets, it became a fun and quirky and emotional way of getting a message across loud and clear. It is a form of art which is made by the masses for the masses.

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Of course, a street artist isn’t really an average person in terms of skill and talent and training and means, as it takes years and hard work to be able to get that good. (Except for stencils which are way easier to produce if you have a neat idea and some basic know-how.) But in spite of the artist’s exceptionality, he or she usually does not dissociate from the general population as far as feelings go. As a general rule of thumb, upon admiring a piece of street art, you always feel that it is made by a son or daughter of “the people”, as corny and cliché as that might sound. Perhaps the air of defying something – as street art is still theoretically forbidden and viewed as vandalism in many parts of the world and many areas of most cities – contributes to the social meaning and the feeling of togetherness with the whole of us. In any case, street art is always imbued with a higher social meaning than most classic art, and it always keeps up with the trends and realities of everyday life, by playing with some of the common places in popular culture and so on.

Digital culture was, until recently, something approached by street art only by attempting to imitate pixels or make references to outdated computer games or characters which most adults would be nostalgic for today (like Mario or Pac-Man, for instance). But a more recent trend has taken the fusion of street art with the digital world even further, creating something even more expressive than the regular version of street art. Making GIFs out of street art is the next best thing, and various sources all over the great wide web are doing it with various degrees of creativity and success. There are a few hubs where you can find street art gifs centralized and even grouped into themes.

For example, you can find a Tumblr blog entirely dedicated to Banksy’s works made into gifs here. The person behind the ABVH nickname is unmistakably putting in a lot of his own work and time and skill to create these animated and improved versions of Bansky’s creations. Therefore, it is quite debatable if we’re not talking about an artistic act in itself here with the GIF-making. That’s the great thing about both street art and digital culture: the usual boundaries and borders and blurred, inspiration can be taken from anywhere and the art itself belongs to everybody.

Another great example is this French site of animated graffiti art, which produces and publishes results best described as psychedelic. Not as socially charged as our previous example, but still visually compelling and fascinating nonetheless. After browsing these two suggestions, don’t stop here, by all means. We only included two for the sake of not writing a too lengthy post, but the internet is full of wonderful examples of street art gone digital into awesome gifs. Have fun browsing and drop us a line to tell us what you think of this trend.

20 Most Interesting and Creative Outdoor Ads

Advertising should be a part of every business plan. Companies which now know worldwide success still use ads to further propel their products. Take Coca-Cola as an example: everybody drinks it. Yet, they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to create better ads. The CEO of Coca-Cola actually stated that advertising should be done by every company, irrespective of its impact on the public, to increase sales. There are also many forms of advertising. We have vintage ads, funny ads, intelligent ads, and even more outdoor ads. Today we would like to focus on the 20 Most Interesting and Creative Outdoor Ads from famous brands such as Whiskas, FedEx, IKEA, Panasonic and many more. We will also share some lesser known company ads that definitely deserve a standing ovation. Let’s take a look at them.

Recommended Read: 10 most controversial billboard ads in USA

1. Coop’s Paints

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This incredibly creative ad somehow reminds us of the impact that street art has. It represents cans of Coop’s paint, one of which has spilled over the adjacent sidewalk.

2. IKEA

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IKEA is all about finding comfortable living and interior design solutions for its customers. This is why their outdoor ad represents 3d furniture and people.

3. The Economist

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This unique add presents a light-bulb that turns on and off, depending on how people walk past it: it lights up when someone is standing under the light-bulb.

4. FedEx vs UPS

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FedEx had some ads printed on its trucks. They represented its competitor’s, UPS trucks, stored inside their own trucks.

5. Mc Donald’s – Best Friends on the Planet

This is one of my favorite ads (even if I’m not a fan of Mc Donald’s). It represents the typical fries, red box; with yellow lights coming out of it (the lights represent the fries). This ad is sure to be seen at night.

6. Coca-Cola / WWF: Plant

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This smart billboard absorbs air pollutants.

7. Hot Wheels

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8. Jobsintown.de

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Everybody knows how difficult it can be to find a decent job. Jobsintown.de perfectly portrays the horrible process of job-hunting, and promises, through its ad, that it will find better solutions.

9. Joevanza – Mobility for Everyone

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Being disabled is extremely difficult. Many metro stations and buses are not equipped to handle individuals with mobility problems. Joevanza promises comfort for those with mobility problems, through its powerful ad.

10. Whiskas: Now with More Protein

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Have you ever seen a “Beware of Cat” sign? Probably not. Most of them are reserved for the big, scary dogs. But if your cat eats protein-rich Whiskas food, it will definitely need a “Beware of Cat” sign.

11. McDonald’s Coffee

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This interesting poled transformed into a clever Coffee ad for McDonald’s.

12. Dulcolax Ads

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Dusseldorf, Germany, is home to the hilarious Dulcolax laxative pillars. They feature giant, ordinary paper rolls.

13. Panasonic Nose Trim

20 Most Interesting and Creative Outdoor AdsNose hair is anesthetic. Panasonic will help you get rid of it without any problems. At least this is what the ad promises. Either way, it looks pretty funny.

14. Greenpeace Advertisement

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“There’s no better medicine for the environment than your contribution”. This is what the Greenpeace Advertisement says.

15. Copyshop: The Copied City

16. Zurich Zoo: More Space for the Big Ones

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We are not the only creatures on this planet. We must take care of the other animals as well. This Zurich Zoo ad encourages people to act.

17. Canon Advertising its S1 Camera

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Canon transformed street columns in the S1 camera model they released in 2006. Not only do the pillars fit the lens camera perfectly, but they also offer a three-dimensional look to the ad.

18. Craftsman Tools: Wrench Billboard

Craftsman Tools

Number 18 on our list of most interesting and creative ads is the billboard advertisement by Craftsman tools. The pole looks like a man holding a wrench.

19. Auckland Transport: Kids see Roads Differently

Auckland Transport

A reminder that children see roads differently.

20. SunSmart Cancer Council Australia: Cut Out

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We hope you enjoyed these ads. Stay tuned for more!

You Can Now Explore Street Art with Google

Google Maps is finally turning into something fun in addition to just being occasionally useful: a recent launch allows users to employ Google’s satellites to get almost real time images of numerous remarkable pieces of street art worldwide. The world map shows you how many pieces of art you can browse in each country featured, and in many cases it’s about hundreds and hundreds of pieces, including areas which may be hard to access or areas in which street art is truly a transgression (like some countries in the Middle East). Not all countries have been featured yet but more are sure to follow soon. For example, the creativity of German street art is pretty famous, but Germany isn’t on the map yet. (Luckily, if you’re interested, you can browse some street art from that area here in the meantime). To explore street art with Google in many areas of the world which are already featured, you can start here and see where the maps lead you.

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Browsing Street Art with Google: As Mainstream As It Gets

What does this addition to the range of Google services mean, though? Street art used to be the ultimate creative form of protest, back in a day where urban rebellion was really expressed through it. In the good old days – not that anyone is actually regretting that oppressive atmosphere – scribbling your art, no matter how genuinely good it was, was equal to an act of vandalism for which the author would be fined or arrested when caught.

The next stage meant that even if it wasn’t really illegal anymore, street art would still be equivalent to a form of protest one way or the other; it was still something that only the non-conformist and young (at least in spirit) would do. This is why many of the subjects illustrated by street art are a form of social critique, starting with the over-promoted Banksy and finishing with the recent Brazilian anti-football graffiti protests. It’s quite clear that street art is still a favorite creative way of sticking it to the man, whenever we, the people have some sort of beef with the system. This sort of positioning is of course problematic in itself, since some of us are a bit tired of this rhetoric and feel that street art tends to be a tad boring when it takes is protesting role too seriously. And nowhere is this tension more visible than in the recent launch in Google Maps services: the fact that you can now explore street art with Google proves this precise point.

On the other hand, if you don’t take into account its defying component at all, this opportunity to browse more street art with Google may be the best thing that happened to global urban creativity in a long time. Exploring various instances of this art will now be easier, as well as inter-inspiration and general visibility. Besides, it could be argued that shaming a certain artistic area for being too mainstream is actually a way of shaming pop culture and only valuing high culture, which is clearly an outdated and pretty discriminatory attitude. Art is art, culture is culture; valuing one type of culture over another or deeming it more legitimate opens the way for the same kind of discrimination that creates hierarchies between social classes or peoples or races. Precisely because there’s no low culture and high culture, perhaps the opportunity to explore street art with Google should be interpreted as most welcome.

How do you feel about this: are you disappointed in how mainstream street art just got, or are you happy with the possibility of exploring street art with Google? Art is still art anyway and any extra opportunity to browse it should be welcomed with open arms?

Street Art Saving Neighborhoods – Important Buildings and their Street Art

There was a time when graffiti and street art were only considered acts of vandalism and testimony of the ill-mannered youth that was living in certain areas. Nowadays, more and more of us begin to look beyond our previous beliefs and start to appreciate the true beauty that lies on the cracked walls. The streets and facades have become blank canvases for artists who find themselves confined by the rigors of conventional art. Such is the extent to which our beliefs have changed, that legislation has been passed in some countries and states that make it possible to turn buildings into landmarks if and when the street art is so representative of the culture within a certain area or if the artist is notoriously famous and recognized worldwide for his talent and value.

Long Island City Graffiti Hub

This 200,000 sqft. warehouse tucked away in Queens is where New York City’s most stunning creations are displayed, works of now world renowned street artist Jonathan Cohen, being now known as the 5 Pointz building. Back in 2001 when the owner allowed Jonathan to cover his building with graffiti he did not know how much trouble it would cause him later on. Later on in 2013 he decided to demolish the building in order to create luxury condos, but the artist Jonathan Cohen intervened and asked another street artist, Bansky to speak on his behalf in order to save the building. A judge delayed the demolition for 10 days, then the artists obtained another 14 day delay of the demolition proceedings because of the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act. On November 19, 2013, the building was painted white in one night, thus the demolition protection was lost together with the beautiful pieces of art.

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Bansky Pieces

We have already presented many of Banksy’s works, but there are more worth mentioning. Nowadays Bansky is so notoriously known that his works of art are being sold for more than $1 million. When he created the Geisha silhouettes in New York City, the building owner immediately realized the value of the recently created piece and took action right away so as to prevent the artwork from being defaced. The building wall was soon covered with Plexiglas, there was a rolling metal gate installed and security guards were soon hired to protect the building 24/7 (security guards with a $200 shift). To date, the Geishas and the 9/11 tribute in Tribeca are Banskys only two surviving pieces to have remained unscathed (whether this makes them even more valuable is yet to be determined).

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Street Art of Daikanyama

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Daikanyama is situated in central Tokyo and while some associate it with embassies and shops, its true treasure is to be found in the breathtaking pieces of street art and graffiti covering its walls. Corners and parking areas, walls and trains are all covered by exquisite and colorful works of talent and imagination made by unknown artists. It seems to perfectly capture every beat, sound and sigh of the city. With underpasses leading pedestrians into the deepest oceans, with mermaids and fish, you’re bound to get lost among the beauty these artists have created.

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 Image Credits: flickr.com