Art of Reproduction

There was a woman on the train this morning wearing a Banksy tshirt.

You can get Banksy everything now. Crafty individuals have been putting his art onto canvas prints and selling them down every market in London. Banksy won’t see a penny for this – one could argue that his art is in the public domain and therefore others can use it as they wish – in the same way perhaps as anyone can make a tshirt with the Houses of Parliament or a skyline of London on it. 

It would be interesting to know how he feels about people using his art in this way. I suspect he isn’t too keen on the commercialisation of his work. However, I don’t imagine he is short of cash now – he has spent years honing his craft, building his brand, being clever at what he does ... Now he is known as one of the biggest artists in the world. 

But Banksy does not issue a lawsuit to every person that rips off his intellectual property. Indeed his brand grew via word of mouth and through people admiring and copying his work. Now his pieces demand six figure sums. 

Imagine if the music industry was similar. If all songs were free, but as artists grew their music (in effect, their art) increased in value. At 79p per download, music is a much more disposable art form. It relies on volume of sale. Warhol started out with this concept – his pop art was meant to be reproduced quickly and cheaply. Now the pieces are worth millions. 

How would we value an album if it were to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s?

Banksy's Cans Festival opens today on Leake Street - SE1 7NN

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