No one knows the mysterious graffiti artist, Banksy’s real identity, but his artwork is recognized around the world. We hope you enjoy these Banksy quotes about art, life, and making the world a more beautiful place.
Who is Banksy?
People were intrigued when striking graffiti murals started popping up around Bristol, England in the early 1990s. Signed by the name of Banksy, these murals depicted clear messages of anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-establishment.
Banksy’s work is often darkly humorous and features unlikely heroes like rats, teddy bears, apes, children, and the elderly.
Though his work is no longer sold publicly, the walls with his graffiti are often resold, sometimes the wall is even removed from the building to do so.
Don’t forget to also check out these art quotes celebrating the power and beauty of creation.
Famous Banksy quotes and sayings about art
1. “The art world is the biggest joke going. It’s a rest home for the overprivileged, the pretentious, and the weak. And modern art is a disgrace – never have so many people used so much stuff and taken so long to say so little.” — Banksy
2. “The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit.” — Banksy
3. “The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff…. any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours, it belongs to you, it’s yours to take, rearrange and reuse. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.” — Banksy
4. “Should graffiti be judged on the same level as modern art? Of course not: It’s way more important than that.” — Banksy
5. “If you want someone to be ignored then build a life-size bronze statue of them and stick it in the middle of town. It doesn’t matter how great you were, it’ll always take an unfunny drunk with climbing skills to make people notice you.” — Banksy
6. “The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal.” — Banksy
7. “I wouldn’t want to be remembered as the guy who contaminated a perfectly legitimate form of protest art with money and celebrities.” — Banksy
8. “I think it’s pretty clear that film is the pre-eminent art form of our age. If Michaelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci were alive today they’d be making Avatar, not painting a chapel.” — Banksy
9. “It’s a very frustrated feeling you get when the only people with good photos of your work are the police department.” — Banksy
10. “Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing.” — Banksy
11. “All artists are willing to suffer for their work. But why are so few prepared to learn to draw?” — Banksy
12. “Modern art is a disaster area.” — Banksy
13. “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” — Banksy
14. “A wall is a very big weapon. It’s one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with.” — Banksy
Banksy quotes about making the world a more beautiful place
15. “Bus stops are far more interesting and useful places to have art than in museums.” — Banksy
16. “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.” — Banksy
17. “Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colors and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.” — Banksy
18. “People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.” — Banksy
19. “You don’t need planning permission to build castles in the sky.” — Banksy
Banksy quotes and phrases about life
20. “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.” — Banksy
21. “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.” — Banksy
22. “I need someone to protect me from all the measures they take in order to protect me.” — Banksy
23. “It doesn’t take much to be a successful artist-all you need to do is dedicate your entire life to it.” — Banksy
24. “Speak softly, but carry a big can of paint.” — Banksy
25. “Live as a villain, die as a hero.” — Banksy
26. “I’ve never really understood why people sleep. Wasting a third of your life and becoming vulnerable for almost 8 hours every night. Doesn’t seem very appealing to me.” — Banksy
27. “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.” — Banksy
28. “There are four basic human needs; food, sleep, sex, and revenge.” — Banksy
29. “At this time of year, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity – the lies, the corruption, the abuse.” — Banksy
30. “A lot of mothers will do anything for their children, except let them be themselves.” — Banksy
31. “Become good at cheating and you never need to become good at anything else.” — Banksy
Banksy quotes about brandalism
32. “I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached. There’s no gallery show or book or film. It’s pointless. Which hopefully means something.” — Banksy
33. “You owe the companies nothing. You especially don’t owe them any courtesy. 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.” — Banksy
34. “Brandalism Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It’s yours to take, rearrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.” — Banksy
35. “You live in the city and all the time there are signs telling you what to do and billboards trying to sell you something.” — Banksy
36. “But there’s no way round it-commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist. We’re not supposed to be embraced in that way. When you look at how society rewards so many of the wrong people, it’s hard not to view financial reimbursement as a badge of self-serving mediocrity.” — Banksy
37. “We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.” — Bansky
38. “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.” — Banksy
Banksy quotes about changing the world
39. “Film is incredibly democratic and accessible, it’s probably the best option if you actually want to change the world, not just re-decorate it.” — Banksy
40. “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.” — Banksy
41. “I originally set out to try and save the world, but now I’m not sure I like it enough.” — Banksy
42. “There’s nothing more dangerous than someone who wants to make the world a better place.” — Banksy
More Banksy quotes and sayings
43. “All I know about what people think of my gear is what a couple of my friends tell me, and one of them always wants to borrow money, so I’m not sure how reliable he is.” — Banksy
44. “A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” — Banksy
45. “People either love me or they hate me, or they don’t really care.” — Banksy
46. “People who get up early in the morning cause war, death and famine.” — Banksy
47. “Nobody ever listened to me until they didn’t know who I was.” — Banksy
48. “Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a f**king sharp knife to it.” — Banksy
49. “Nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful people with talent, leave the house before you find something worth staying in for.” — Banksy
50. “The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.” — Banksy
What is Banksy’s true identity?
In the last thirty years, Banksy has become an artist known worldwide, though no one knows his true identity. With artwork that is stenciled illegally on the walls of public buildings across England, if Banksy’s identity became public, he could risk prosecution.
In truth, however, the British government probably knows the true identity of Banksy through his tax records. In his early days, Banksy would have had to hide from the police in order to get his paintings on public walls. Now, however, he is a national treasure, and his artwork cherished worldwide. The anonymity of his identity is simply part of his performance.
There is some speculation that Banksy is Robert Gunningham, a British citizen from Bristol, England. However, this has never been verified.
Did you enjoy these Banksy quotes and sayings? Which quote was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
May 7, 2021 7:00 AM EST