Our exploration of Banksy art prints continues, with a closer look at some popular works by the anonymous street artist. This week, the infamous Banksy rat makes more than one appearance – highly sought after, rarely available, but popular amongst Banksy art buyers around the world.
Get Out While You Can (Placard Rat)
Get Out While You Can (Placard Rat) is an original, limited edition screenprint by Banksy.
The print features a monochromatic stencil of rat (one of Banksy’s most famous motifs) complete with a Peace symbol on a chain, and a placard that has been sprayed with pink or red paint reading ‘Get Out While You Can’.
The Banksy artwork Get Out While You Can (Placard Rat) was released alongside Because I’m Worthless and Welcome To Hell. The print came out in 2004, and there were a total 250 prints of this edition released – 175 unsigned and 75 signed (with a mixture of pink and red lettering). Placard Rat first appeared on Chiswell Street, London, and featured the words ‘London Doesn’t Work’.
Street Artist Banksy has created several incarnations of Gangsta Rat – a monochromatic stencil of rat complete with hip-hop chains, baseball cap, and a beat-box.
These original, limited edition prints include: a version where Gangsta Rat has graffitied in various colours including green, pink, and red ‘iPaws’; a version where Gangsta Rat is in front of a pink Anarchy symbol he has sprayed on the walls; and a version where Gansta Rat has sprayed a Peace symbol behind him.
Gangsta Rat first appeared on a street in Farringdon, London, and has become one of Banksy’s most iconic characters in. The artwork was released as prints in 2004. There were a total of 500 prints, 150 of which were signed.
This original monochromatic Banksy print depicts a line of army tanks queued up behind a man with a placard reading ‘Golf Sale’, with an arrow pointing in direction of the sale.
The artwork directly references the iconic photograph of the peaceful protester in Tiananmen Square, who, in protest of the Chinese government bravely stood in front of the tanks, and whenever they moved, he moved, blocking their path.
In the infamously anonymous Street Artist’s book, Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall, Banksy explained the piece, saying: “We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.”
Golf Sale was originally released in 2003 as a total edition of 750 prints.
This satirical, original, limited edition print by Banksy depicts two elderly grannies sitting on two armchairs seemingly doing what grannies do: knitting. But on closer inspection, the jumpers they are knitting read, ‘Punks Not Dead’, and ‘Thug For Life’. The background is a block, muted pink – heightening the juxtaposition of the works scene and its message, which is possibly to remind us that the older generations make look relatively innocuous, but they might have a rebellious past.
It could also be Banksy encouraging the older generation to take a stand once more, or rather, what he believes they should pass down along with their knitted jumpers, to their grandchildren, the future generation.
Contrarily, it has been suggested that the picture represents the gentrification of counter cultural movements into tame, mainstream culture suitable for grannies.
The artwork was released as a screen print in 2006.
This limited edition screen print by Banksy shows a grim reaper, complete with scythe, balancing on top of a clock that reads five to midnight. But instead of the usual skeletal countenance, the grim reaper’s face has been replaced with the ‘smiley face’. This original print is black and white, save for the bright yellow of the reaper’s face.
This artwork employs a technique often employed in Street Art, that of subverting expectations and assumptions, suggesting that, though all of our times are fast approaching, maybe it’s nothing to be scared of after all. Transforming the archetypal, terrifying symbol of the grim reaper, into something friendly, and almost welcoming.
Grin Reaper was originally released in 2005 in an edition of 300, and unusually for Banksy prints of this era, every one was signed.
This five colour, limited edition, original print by British graffiti artist Banksy is of three very menacing looking, photo-realistic, black military helicopters flying through a blue sky, scattered with clouds. But on the advancing helicopter, there is a large pink bow tied on it. (In some versions, all the helicopters have pink bows).
This image challenges our natural connotations, juxtaposing the terrifying and dangerous, with the sweet and innocent; and showing how simply (with the mere addition of a bow) our assumptions can be usurped.
The additions of the clear blue sky and pink bow, also dramatically highlight the threatening and violent nature of the war helicopters, and the senselessness of their nature.
The aerosol sprayed stencil art work by Banksy first appeared at Whitecross Street Market, London, in 2002. This original Street Art silkscreen print was released in 2003.
Have a Nice Day
This five colour, original, limited edition silkscreen print by Banksy is an example of his photo-realistic stencil style. It portrays a line of military police, complete with guns and visas, in a row — in the middle of which is an enormous tank. But on closer inspection, these intimidating police officers in black riot gear all have a bright yellow ‘smiley face’ as a face, and the emblem at the bottom of the print reads ‘Have a nice day’.
This artwork is typical of Banksy’s style of subverting the norm and usurping expectations (a method commonly employed by graffiti artists): what, at first glance, is a terrifying image; on closer inspection becomes an amusing one. The motto’s sarcasm highlighted by the juxtaposed faces of the smiling police with their intimidating garb.
Have a Nice Day was one of Banksy’s first ever screenprints – released in 2003 — and are of an edition of 500.
This original Banksy artwork depicts the famous gramophone and dog symbol of the commercial music vendor HMV – but on closer inspection, the dog is holding a bazooka with one of its paws, aimed directly at the gramophone.
He first sprayed the black and white HMV mural with its ‘rocket dog’ on the streets in Bristol, and represents a critique of the music industry. On one hand it could be said to shows the contrast between the aged conservatism represented by the gramophone versus the youthful liberalism of the dog; on the another it could be that the gramophone represents the capitalist nature of the modern music industry — typified by the consumerist brand HMV — that Banksy would like to destroy. Contrarily it could be said to demonstrate how capitalism and large conglomerate companies are destroying music.
The limited edition HMV print was originally released in 2003. It’s among the smallest Banksy prints ever and was of an edition of 750 prints, 600 of which were unsigned.
I Fought the Law
Banksy’s original wall art, I Fought the Law, is a three-colour screen print released by in 2004.
The artwork shows a photo-realistic black and white stencil of a man being pinned down by three other men, while a man in the foreground drinks what appears to be a bottle of beer. The man being pinned down by the group has just dropped a paintbrush covered in orange paint, with which he has graffitied ‘I Fought The Law And I Won’, on the wall behind them.
The writing on the wall is a play on the infamous Clash song, ‘I Fought The Law and The Law Won.’ The meaning of this subversion could indicate Banksy’s belief that those who rise above the law and fight protocol, are invariably knocked down by the jeering masses. Alternatively, it could be seen that, despite getting caught, the graffiti artist had already won – by writing on the wall, he had succeeded despite of what happened next.
The positioning of them men in the image is a reversal of photographs capturing the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan.