The Curious Case Of The Fake Banksys

The media seem to be quite interested in ‘the knock on effect of the Banksy show on the Bristol scene’, but one thing that’s not been much spotted so far is the number of fake Banksys springing up at the moment.

Thanks to various people who’ve been sending them in, especially Mark and Colin, they’ve been popping up round Bristol for a few weeks now. First there was these Banksy inspired pieces, and now some more full on copies.

These two are over round Mivart Street way, and they’re so clearly not by Banksy it’s hard to know where to begin. Seems very unlikely they’re even by any of the other Bristol stencil crowd at the moment.

sun16&mon170809 069

sun16&mon170809 046

This one’s over on the Bristol-Bath Cyclepath, by the Bruce Road exit. To be fair, at least the area these are in is right, if we’re to believe he’s taking a trip down memory lane. Possibly after taking a knock to the head and losing his ability to stencil.


This was found in Bristol recently too, a bit of board. Could be the Not Banksy lot who apparently have been to Bristol this summer, but can’t immediately see it or anything like it on their website.

grin reaper

It’s not just happening in Bristol either it seems. This story here about the Upfest team at Boardmasters in Newquay recently  has had a local journalism ‘is this a Banksy?’ angle applied to it, except fair enough this time, as someone seems to have taken a copy of an old style Banksy signature with them and sprayed it on some guy’s van.

The story in precis goes;

After seeing another van being sprayed, Mr Lourens, a self-employed paver, decided he would like to brighten up his own Ford Transit, which he uses for work and surfing trips. He haggled the group, called Upfest, from £200 to £100 for the job…

…He said he approached the group when he was at a concert on August 8 and they asked him to bring his van to them the next afternoon.

“I saw them spraying another van and I started chatting to them about it, and said I really want to get my Transit graffitied and they said they could sort it out,” he said. “They were called Upfest, the urban paint festival. They had a little stall and they were basically just spraying on T-shirts, skateboard decks and shoes.

“They asked me if I wanted anything particular on my van, and I said they could do what they want – any artist will do it better if it’s something they want to do.

“So I left the van and went into town. I think it was a couple of hours. When I got back I thought the van looked pretty sick – pretty amazing. They were still busy.

“When I went back again the one guy asked me about the bonnet the whole time – whether I liked the bonnet. I asked him if he did it and he said he didn’t.”

When the group finished Mr Lourens said he was very happy with the look, and helped the artists pack up.

“At about 6pm I went to help them pack away their stuff and then one of my friends noticed the word Banksy and we asked the Upfest guy, who I knew as Steve, ‘who is Banksy?’. They said ‘look on the Internet’.

“One of my friends had heard of Banksy. Later on I found out it was quite a big deal.”…

…He said he thinks Banksy, whose name is on the top right hand of the vehicle, above the windscreen, must have sprayed the masked figures on the front of the vehicle – with other artists doing the sides and back of the van. He added that the man that asked him if he liked the work on the bonnet may fit the mysterious artist’s description.

He said: “The guy that actually asked me – I looked at photos of how Banksy looks like and he looks similar.

“He was in his mid-thirties, dark hair. He was a bit shorter than me.”

Thing is, the image on the bonnet, if you look at the photos in the article, is clearly an SPQR stencil from his last show, as per this flyer for it here.

If some people are out there pretending to be Banksy at the moment, then that’s one thing. But this guy’s now worried for the safety of his van, and says he doesn’t like leaving it along now in case it gets nicked for the so called ‘Banksy’ on it. Hardly the outcome you want when you get your van painted.

Upfest have sort of clarified the situation in a statement;

“Unfortunately we are unable to shed any light on the so called Banksy van, to our knowledge none of the work on the van was done by Banksy.”

They did confirm that there were 10 artists present in Newquay at the Boardmasters surf festival but they could not reveal the artists’ real names for “various reasons”, as Upfest works with many street artists and “respects their desire for anonymity”

It’s not about anonimity surely when you could just tell them who did which piece on the van, especially when the piece that’s causing confusion is so publicly an SPQR piece that it was used as the flyer for his last show? ‘To our knowledge none of the work was by Banksy’ is a needlessly vague way to say things when you know full well none of it was.

Someone seems to have used Banksy’s signature on a piece of their own work, and allowed someone to believe that it might mean Banksy did the work. Someone else is going around Bristol spraying fake pieces. Possibly the same person, possibly a whole load of different people, possibly a whole bunch of kiddies having a laugh, one of whom sprayed a Banksy tag on a van Upfest were painting when they weren’t looking. Who knows what’s going on here and why.

Either way, maybe it’s art, maybe it’s postmodern irony, but mostly it just seems tragic. The word ‘biting’ doesn’t even cover it.


Filed under Abroad, Banksy, Bristol

15 responses to “The Curious Case Of The Fake Banksys

  1. toytown

    i can add two points to this story that may (or maynot ) be significant –
    i can add is a cast iron guarantee that when SPQR painted that guys bonnet he did not add the ‘banksy’ tag that appeared above the windscreen …
    also the bloke who owns the van was told (and has been retold) in no uncertain terms that the piece on his bonnet is by spqr .. so if he still seems uncertain then it is surely just because he sees a ‘benefit’ to people believing it may be a banksy !?!

    • bristolgraffiti

      Cool, ta for that, didn’t think it would be SPQR doing that, but someone must know though, why not just tell the story behind it? Unless the bloke added the signature himself and then went to the papers?

      The whole thing’s very odd.

  2. bobby dazzler

    who gives a flying fuck about any of this

  3. Hey Peeps..

    Seeing as this seems to be the place where everything gets reported to and clarified… I felt it was best to post directly rather than throught the media as such… Oh they love a bit of spin…

    Upfest was at boardmasters, and Upfest did paint a number of vans that weekend… When I say Upfest painted, we mean Upfest arranged for the guys to paint down at boardmasters. The guy who came to us with this story asked if a particulat person (not banksy by the way) was there.. we said he wasn’t but we also couldn’t give out the real names of our artists… ‘for obvious reasons’…

    This really is another case of the media jumping on something which really wasn’t for them. SPQR painted the bonnet as per the above comment, but did not, and would not have added any form of Banksy tag.

    The guy was told numerous times that banksy didn’t paint his van, and was told and met those who had… but he obviously felt the need ($) to approach the media and also a gallery or two as we’ve since found out… He was also advised to paint over it, especially with his so called concerns about the safety of the vehicle… (yeah yeah)

    Our suggestion is that it was done as a harmless joke, thinking it may be funny to think that banksy drove an old banger transit… Simple as that…. Ah well, we live and learn… 🙂

    • bristolgraffiti

      Cheers Upfest, sounds like a fair bit of spin on it then! Comedy if he’s trying to sell it to galleries too…

  4. dfb

    i saw that first one with the overspray that was on the house that also had the click clack piece on cato street. it wasnt there long but i remember thinking how it was cool that he’d returned to make amends for the paint attack, there was even ‘sorry’ and a sad face painted next to it, looked pretty gen to me, how can you be sure?

    • bristolgraffiti

      That amount of overspray and running paint for one, and the paint’s too thickly applied anyway, which is part of the same problem. Banksy’s a really good freehand artist (whatever he may say) and knows how to use a spraycan, whoever did this doesn’t seem to.

      The signature looks shonky as well, especially at the end, and when was the last time you saw him spray a single colour stencil in recent years? Or revisit such an old image like that?

      Sure, there have been pissed pieces out there that he’s not happy to put his name to, but it really seems unlikely that this is one.

      It’s not even clear he was behind the paint attack on the Cato Street piece.

  5. a non y mouse

    maybe it was ‘Shonky’ the scarlet pimp of graf?

  6. alan

    could it be that banksy feels he has no message for bristol and that bristol alone should decide its message, that he has said all he wants to say and he just fancies a bit of a tag mission in the dead of night? i like the idea of that

  7. Upfest

    The owner has been told a number of times this is not a banksy. I hope he donates the money to charity if anyone is a sucker to buy it 🙂

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