Nowadays east London is awash with ‘street art tours’ and you can’t move without tripping over a bearded hipster pretending Nathan Barley didn’t exist.
A decade ago though, in 2006, Martin Bull was the first person to give tours of the most arty streets of London, focussing on the public work of the rapidly rising star of a genre becoming known as ‘street art’, Banksy.
These tours were free, unlike those of today.
In fact they may have even made people a tidy profit as official Banksy stickers were given out for free (kindly supplied by his print & book seller, ‘Pictures on Walls’) and if anyone was clever enough to hang onto them, they are worth quite a lot in this age of celebrity, fame and art investors. They are little stickers. Two a penny. Yes, I know, the world has gone cuckoo.
Banksy Locations & Tours – Vol.1
A book of the tours followed, the first independent book in the world about Banksy’s art, using the DIY (Do It Yourself) ethos and a handful of friends. It took off and the ‘Banksy Locations & Tours’ that is currently in print is the 5th edition after being heavily revised and updated in late 2013.
Page spreads from ‘Banksy Locations (& Tours) Vol.1’ (5th edition)
Banksy Locations (and a Tour) – Vol.2
Buoyed by the curious runaway success of BLT, as it became known, Martin rounded up and whipped into shape the rest of Banksy’s UK graffiti from 2005 to 2010, as well as older survivors. The beautiful hardback book includes over 135 different locations of Banksy’s street graffiti, over 230 colour photographs, information, random facts & idle chit-chat on each location, a full walking tour of his remaining work in Bristol, and also snippets of art/graffiti by Eine, Faile, Inkie, Kato, Mode 2, BA / DBZ, & Rowdy.
A variety of pages from ‘Banksy Locations (and a Tour) – Vol.2’
Different versions of both volumes of BLT were released on an unsuspecting world by PM Press, a radical American publisher hand picked by Martin, and Volume 1 was even translated and published in South Korean. Martin can only understand about five words of it, so hopes the rest of it isn’t just reams of swearing.
As the Banksy ‘industry’ became increasingly opportunist and hopelessly bloated Martin suspected that he’d never want the shame of doing another book about Banksy.
Wrong. First he did what he never expected to do, which was to actually think about Banksy’s work and attempt to categorise it. Bah humbug; it was so much nicer just chucking the info out there and letting people get on with it. The result was the PM Press only ‘This Is Not a Photo Opportunity’ and it actually worked!
Banksy Colouring & Drawing Book
Then in 2015, like having a new child when your others are already grown up, a random thought and conversation with a friend led to an innovative ‘Banksy Colouring & Drawing Book’. It contains over 50 iconic Banksy street art pieces (ranging from 1997 to 2014) for mindful adults or creative children to colour and draw, offering gentle structure but also encouraging you to exhibit your own personal touch and to unlock your inner artist. It uses thick uncoated 150 gsm paper – ideal for colouring pens & pencils – and is the most soothingly purple book in Britain, or your money back.