Neko Graffiti Girl Meets Banksy
Irony. Wit. Anonymity. Banksy
Excerpted from Seven Years with Banksy, © Robert Clarke 2012
It was 1994. I was living in the Williamsburg borough of Brooklyn, New York City, shoulder to shoulder with artists, poets and transients all converting a large old warehouse into living quarters. Spaces were huge and rent was minimal. About twelve of us shared a bathroom but it was all good and functional.
My room was basic, with access to an adjacent roof that offered a view of the city. There was a nest of rats down my stairwell but as long as they didn’t come into my room they never bothered me.
The first time I saw him, he just looked at me with a long, nonchalant, non-committal gaze, saying nothing. He was tall, aloof, and dressed nondescriptly. He had a certain unfathomed depth… like the proverbial iceberg: you see a little above the water but underneath is the hidden mass.
His first name was Robin, and I’d heard we were both from Bristol, UK. Months later he decided to change his last name to Banks as a deliberate pun: robbin’ banks. But since that was too long to use as a graffiti tag, it eventually got shortened to Banksy.
Photo of the Virtual Decay sim courtesy of Prandi Capalini
As I later learned, he preferred to be quiet, to observe, to take it all in… and then come out with just one comment at the precise time to garner some attention. He could smell bullshit a mile off and could cut fiercely through the pretensions of a crowd.
His perceptive comments got most people’s backs up within microseconds; others would laugh, others would be puzzled. But when he spoke all would listen… and almost every time there was this humor… the same humor you see in his art.
His room at the warehouse was a wreck. There was paint all over the place and stuff everywhere, but there on the walls, doors and even the ceilings something was coming together—old, cartoonish, fiendish looking creatures. It wasn’t traditional graffiti as some might expect… it was something else, with a macabre tone. Leery, on the comic edge, with his unique humor running through it.
Young, in love with New York, doing the deed in the dead of the night in volatile, dangerous places… not in search of accolades but because he wanted to get his views out there… capturing people’s imagination was the only reward he craved. That’s what made Banksy so good. He truly thought for himself… and then put it out there for all to see, to reject, to agree with, to be provoked by, or to be enlightened.
“His work is a call to action. It’s about hierarchies of power, social injustice and paying attention to issues that aren’t being addressed.” — Pedro Alonzo, who curated an exhibition in England to which Banksy contributed.
Photo of the Virtual Decay sim courtesy of Tinker Drew
Those early years in New York were formative… a beginning of sorts, an education about how to move on to the next step, an organic process of growing, branching out, and bearing fruit. He quickly became knowledgeable about countless local graffiti artists, speaking in reverent, excited tones of places to find the best, newest pieces by the most invisible, law-defying street artists in New York.
Already he had a vague idea of where he was going, where he wanted to be, his motivation like a whirring machine in some part of him.
Only after he left New York and returned to Bristol did he begin using the style that eventually became his trademark: stenciled graffiti. Supposedly it was inspired by a design he spotted under a train car while hiding from law officers. He loved the freedom it gave him—being able to hit and run with clinical precision many times on one night.
At first he used just one stencil; later he began doing huge pieces with many stencils pieced together (like Mona Lisa with Bazooka) for maximum impact. And thus the unique graffiti that became known by the inimitable Banksy trademark was born.
“He’s kind of captured the zeitgeist, but he’s done it in quite an accessible way, so it speaks to people.” — Gareth Williams, a contemporary-art specialist at Bonhams auction house in London.
What a Little Banksy Fangirl Neko Wears in Second Life:
(click on the above image to enlarge)
| Ears | OTCR by Anisa Naumova: Neko Ears v2 tinted black with the HUD
| Eyes | Ephemeral: Shadow Cat Eyes in Golden Brown, white option 2 (These are Ephemeral’s new amazing neko eyes, which not only come in regular “system” eyes, but with optional “mesh” eyes in each package. If you think the texture is superb on the system eyes, you should see it on the mesh!)
| Hat | NerdMonkey: Knit beanie cap in pink
| Hair | Urban Dare by Craven Theas: Stephanie (All of Urban Dare’s hair and Neko tails come with a HUD that lets you choose the same color for everything at the same time, with just one click. Normally this hair doesn’t have paint splatters on it, but Craven was very kind and created a special “paint splatter HUD” just for this story. Thank you Craven!!)
| Paint Tattoo | # 187 # by Kalya Damour: Play With Paint, FullBody Naughty (SL Marketplace link)
| Mouth Mouse | PsychoBits Trapped Mouse in cream
| Scarf | Muism: Scarf Check Dark Short
| Jacket | CE / Cubic Effect: Short Leather Jacket in brown
| Hoodie | KARMA Fashion by Sebastien Breen: Hoodie blue with Cuffs and Hood
| Banksy T-Shirt | Gritty Kitty: Banksy Listen
| Leather braided wrist bands, on right | KOSH: Leather Braid armbands v1
| Leather buckled wrist bands, on left | Bukka: Color Bracelet in brown, medium size
| Fingerless Gloves | Tonktastic: Fingerless Gloves, Style B in black
| Spray Can in my Hand | AR / Aimi Rau: Belton Animated Spray Can (Local chat activated: /1spray turns the animation on/off; /1color brings up a menu to pick the paint color — as long as you’re in a “script ok” sim)
| Belt | Asphyxia: Graffiti belt (this is the awesome belt I wore, that totally made this outfit) | Style Attack: Body Belt (here’s an alternate belt that would be great for guys) | Dirty Lynx: Sptting Colors Graffiti Belt (and here’s one that would match the Dirty Lynx graffiti pants)
| Neko Tail | DK / DemonKitties (Misseuro Chau): Graffiti Tail in black
| Pants | Insanya: SerieZ Capris HC Street (SL Marketplace link)
| Legstrap | D: / Dirtyland by Selene Edwyn: Pocket Flask Legband
| Legwarmers | DL / Dirty Lynx: Graffiti Baggy Pants (check out the full photo of these awesome sculpted baggy pants… I wore only the lower prims so I could feature as many stores as possible in my story, but if you wanna put together a great graffiti look fast and easy, these are the pants to buy!)
| Sneakers | Kibas / Little Ones Couture: Painted High Top Chucks (SL Marketplace link; these are click-to-resize)
Last but not least, here’s all sorts of Banksy stuff on SL Marketplace by Felon Fhang: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/33768
Learn All About Banksy:
http://www.banksy.co.uk/index.html (be sure to “Shop”) :)
Watch a trailer of the film about Banksy:
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Get the Banksy iPhone app:
Check Out the New “Seven Years with Banksy” Book:
View Some Banksy Art + Quotes:
Enjoy a Great Graffiti Website:
First “neko graffiti girl” photo (and artful photoshopping) by the equally artistic Bobby Yoshikawa <3***
© Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko in Second Life 2012