Interrogation with Hanksy: NY’s Beloved Monster
By Jacob Calle
“The bad artists imitate; the great artists steal.”- Picasso Banksy Hanksy.
Hanksy is a New York-based street artist that makes his own unique renditions of the legendary street artist Banksy’s work by adding twists, turning it into a Tom Hanks theme. Banksy’s masked rioter throwing a bouquet of flowers is now transformed into Tom Hanks throwing his beloved Wilson beach volley ball. While the streets are Hanksy’s canvas, the cyber art geeks have made the internet his gallery, seeing that the artist has more than 14,000 followers already just on Instagram. Say hello to Hanksy. Not Banksy, smartass.
While most street artists use their skill to tackle political agendas or display their talent, Hanksy here would rather make the streets a comedy showroom engulfed in puns. “I’ve been into and following the street art and graffiti scene for quite a while before I started painting and pasting as Hanksy. My work prior to, mostly tags and simple stencils, ran the gamut from somber to silly. But in the end, I’d always opt for the simple joke. I tend to like comedy over drama, and the world’s a better place when kids are smiling ear to ear. Plus, other much more talented artists can pull off the serious stuff more convincingly. Let me take care of the dick jokes and others will tackle the weighty topics,” explained Hanksy on the topic of comedy. Stephen Colbert describes Hanksy as a “Well-known New York street artist whose work uses celebrity iconography to address the ephemeral nature of fame, specifically in terrible puns.” This clearly goes without saying as George Clooney’s face is painted over Curious George as this piece is cleverly titled “Bi-Curious George”. There’s also Justin Beaver, HAMual L. Jackson and even a drive-thru window with Ryan Gosling as your fast food waiter. While Hanksy paints the town in laughter, there is still time to be serious, because after all, there is a good reason why street artists hide their identity.
Being a street artist is about having confidence. There are elements fighting against one’s actions: a dangerous rooftop ledge, a possible passing train over a bridge, property owners and police. “It pays to keep a cool head,” said Hanksy, “And if you come prepared with a spotter and are able to execute your piece or throwie efficiently, one shouldn’t have a problem. I’ve been arrested a couple times, and it isn’t fun at all. But as they say, no guts no glory. So it is what it is. Take the risks, get the reward”. And with these risks, the rewards must be high right? Correct. People now want a piece of Hanksy and like Banksy, Hanksy now sells “gallery” work. He’s pulling off sold-out art exhibits including The Krause Gallery. Hanksy has even illegally curated his own art show in an abandoned brownstone in Manhattan without permission of the building’s owner, where he played host to 43 artists as they “trashed” the house with art over stoves, stairways, sinks and halls. Four hundred visitors trespassed in the building to get a glimpse of this pop-up guerilla art exhibit.
While Hanksy has made quite the fartist celebrity for himself with his dick jokes, there is still no chance he can expose his face to the public to reap his fame. “Being an anonymous street artist sucks, because you can’t brag and get all those sweet, sweet street art groupies. But my close friends know, and that’s fine with me. Ninety-five percent of the work I do is illegal, and if I need to cover my face to avoid jail time, so be it. Plus I’m an ugly mofo, so any excuse to pixelate my mug is a good excuse,” said Hanksy. So there ya have it. He’s ugly, funny and probably has paint on his hands. Watch out Hanksy, we’re on to you.
by Jacob Calle