Get Out While You Can (Placard Rat) Banksy
Get Out While You Can is part of the Placard Rat series, a trilogy of three screenprints released in 2004 featuring the artist’s iconic rat holding up a placard bearing the work’s title. Get Out While You Can is regularly in demand; its relatively low edition size contributes to its desirability – there are just 75 Get Out While You Can (Placard Rat) signed prints and 100 unsigned prints.
The inspiration behind the Placard Rat series comes from the 440-page book Get Out While You Can by author George Marshall, a book explaining exactly how to escape the rat race. Variations of the Placard Rat were painted by Banksy in the streets of London as well as a large number of rats in general, a symbol which has rapidly become the artist’s most iconic motif.
Banksy’s artwork Get Out While You Can shows a rat painted in the artist’s famous black and white stencilled style. The rat, a symbol of society’s misfits and the downtrodden man, is typically shown standing on it’s two back feet as a human – just as in Get Out While You Can. The work was actually first seen on Chiswell Street in London, accompanied by the words ‘London Doesn’t Work’. Here the rat is holding up a placard reading ‘Get Out While You Can’ in bright red or pink handwriting, the only splash of colour of the composition.
Banksy’s screenprint is an analogy, giving a voice to those Banksy’s considers society has oppressed. The rat is wearing a necklace bearing a peace sign, he is engaged in a form of social protest, warning of an omen still to come. The rat is a campaigner for social justice and Banksy’s message is clear: escape – here the rat is personified as a spokesman, imploring to the masses to ‘get out’ in order to survive.
Rats are one of Banksy’s most prolific subjects and an iconic motif in the artist’s early works. There was an intense rat-period, especially on the London streets, between 2000 and 2005, with both a multitude of both very small and discreet rats, as well as iconic giant rats appearing in London, Liverpool and New York City. Banksy’s rats are a tool he uses to deliver political commentary, exposing flaws of the human race. They can take on many personas from a doorman, or an anarchist, to a photographer. Banksy’s affinity for rats in his work is often attributed to the influence of French stencil artist Blek le Rat, also known as Xavier Prou, who is considered as the ‘Father of stencil graffiti’, he initiated urban art in France in 1881. Blek le Rat’s spray-painted stencils of rats first appeared in Paris on the banks of Seine, about 20 years before Banksy made his first street piece.
Perhaps Banksy sees something of himself in his infamous rat character, the artist working under the radar, operating largely at night, and considered largely by society to be a pest. All rat works by Banksy are incredibly popular, and the other two images released alongside Get Out While You Can in the Placard Rat series are Because I’m Worthless and Welcome To Hell.