Lessons from Banksy

It’s fair to say that Banky’s stock has skyrocketed since his sensational shredder stunt back in October. The entire world now seems to be talking about him, and some experts estimate that the value of the shredded piece itself increased by 50-100% in the immediate aftermath of the shredding, not bad as a split-second return on investment!

So what can new collectors learn from Banksy’s meteoric rise?

For me, what stands out most is Banksy’s desire to engage the public with his work, to be talked about far and wide not just by the inner circles of the art world but by the general population as well. In an age where social media and online publishing tools have levelled the playing field, it’s therefore worthwhile to take the time to explore an artist’s grander ambitions and their strategy for achieving this when considering a new investment piece. Could they become the next big talked-about artist? How are they going to achieve this? How realistic is their plan? What have they accomplished so far that might indicate that they have the potential to go big?  

Another more stark lesson from Banksy’s shredded brilliance is to make sure that both the actions of the artist and the collector are genuine at all times. Specifically, it was reported that after the shredder stunt took place the owner of a £40,000 Banksy print took a Stanley knife to his print in an attempt to imitate the actions of the artist. However, as these actions were such a blatant attempt to increase the value of his print the value of the print plummeted to just £1. Ouch! Confirmation that life accepts no imitation.

From £40,000 to £1 at the hand of a blade

From £40,000 to £1 at the hand of a blade

This theme of being genuine extends to the artists too in the sense that a poorly executed publicity stunt or the publishing of a piece of work that goes against the grain of their vision as an artist could be damaging. What makes Banksy’s stunts so appealing is that they are not only effective in getting people talking, but they also make interesting artistic statements and are not just stunts for the sake of stunts. The devil really is in the detail.   

Finally, Banksy’s ascent to the stratosphere raises a wider point, which is that whilst most people would consider Banksy to be a fairly recent phenomenon, his career started way back in 1990 as a freehand graffiti artist, proving that there really is no such thing as an overnight success. Therefore, the most important attribute to assess in a new and emerging artist is their power of persistence. It’s all too easy and tempting for an artist to give up their practice if things don’t turn out their way or if the ‘real world’ comes knocking. The key is to therefore identify those who are driven to succeed no matter what is thrown at them.

Further insight into identifying the traits of persistent artists will be provided in a future post, so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter below so you never miss a beat!


Oliver Squirrell