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.
Well over 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 to print. Yes, I know… the world has gone cuckoo.
Banksy Locations & Tours – Vol.1
A book of the tours followed. It was the first independent book in the world about Banksy’s art and used the old DIY (Do It Yourself) ethos and a handful of friends to get it moving. It took off, sold 80,000+ copies, including US and Korean editions, with the final version from Martin being the heavily revised and updated 5th edition in late 2013. It is currently out of print, but a eBook version is available and hard copies of the US version are still available, via PM Press.
Not surprisingly most of the £34,500+ Martin has donated to charities from sales of his books (and other fundraising initiatives) has come via this little book. It still shocks him when he realises what it achieved!
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 art from 2005 to 2010, as well as older survivors. The beautiful hardback book includes over 135 different locations of Banksy’s art on the streets, 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 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 also translated and published in South Korea. Martin can only understand about five words of the latter, 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.
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 book, ‘This Is Not a Photo Opportunity’, which actually seemed to work for all involved, including the readers of course.
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
This 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.
Contents summary & page spreads from ‘Banksy Colouring & Drawing Book’
Black & White photos of Banksy’s art on the streets
Having hunted down and taken photos of Banksy’s UK art on the streets since 2005 Martin has a pretty smart collection, and being a semi-professional photographer likes to at least to put a different slant on some of the settings; taking a photo of a wall can be limiting at times!
Martin sometimes sells his black and white photos, but it is a bit haphazard, and the days of lush hand printed 10 by 8’s from the dark room have sadly long gone (along with his darkroom… boo). Very affordable machine made reprints are available in his shop though.
Full details of my Banksy related books & photos can be found at my web shop