Hanksy is a street artist and a master with a pun. He first gained fame via satirical mash-ups of Tom Hanks superimposed on Banksy's work. Since then, he has moved onto other celebrities and has become more well known as people like us anxiously await each newly found Hanksy piece.
As he was getting ready for his November 1st show at Krause Gallery in NYC, we were lucky enough to speak with him about his art, the process, anonymity, art shows, what he hopes people get out of his work, and how boners always win.
How did you become Hanksy?
Despite having dabbled in street art throughout the last decade, I didn't really take it seriously until I became very unserious. And I've always been a big fan of the easy joke, wordplay and puns and whatnot, so the idea of "Hanksy" just sort of happened.
On your website, you refer to yourself as a street fartist. Care to elaborate?
I don't take myself too serious. My pieces are so incredibly lighthearted that I'd feel guilty to call myself a real "artist." Hence the term fartist. And human gas will forever be comedy gold.
Can you tell us about the process? How long does it take you to create the stencil? How long do you case out a location?
The process isn't terribly complicated. Depending on the detail and size, the drawing and stencil itself take about 6-7 hours to create from beginning to end. It's not so bad. And if the piece is going up on a non-legal wall, I'll do it at night under the dark, dark sky.
Are you alone when you're installing your art?
Depending on whether I'm drinking alone or with a friend will determine if I have a lookout or not.
How long does it take to put up a piece?
If I'm moving fast, I can paste-up a 5 x 5 foot piece in under a minute. But that's me being quick and sloppy. And compared to other street artists, my pieces are few and far between. I'm not just getting my name up as often as possible. So I prefer to take my time.
In the beginning, you mashed Banksy's works with Tom Hanks, but have since moved on to other celebrities. Why the change? Did you feel you had done all you could with Hanks?
It was only nine months from street rat debut to a successful solo show in NYC. I felt the Tom Hanks gag had run its course.
What has been your favorite non-Hanks piece so far?
Definitely the Ferrell cats. Because the internet loves cats and so do I.
Have you heard from Tom Hanks regarding your work?
I got interviewed earlier this year and the writer supplied a quote from the Academy Award winner himself. He wrote, "I don't know who Hanksy is, but I enjoy his (her?) comments via the semi-chaos of artistic expression." So yeah, that was cool.
How about Banksy?
A while back I got word from a few credible sources that Banksy was following it and encourages it. So yeah, that was pretty cool too. That all might be bullshit though.
Two of your most recent pieces were done on vans. Are you planning on working locations into your puns, or was this probably just a one-time thing? And did you have the owners' permission?
As of right now, the vans were a one-off. But location-oriented wordplay isn't out of the question. It's whatever I find humorous, I guess. And yes, I did have permission from the van owners. They belong to a few bands that make up FeelTrip Records. It's an artist collective located in Chicago's South Loop. Cool guys, trippy music.
How many requests or suggestions do you get a day from your fans? Have you ever used any of their suggestions?
A lot of my friends suggest stuff all the time, but I try to stick to my own ideas. Maybe it's ego or maybe I just think I'm funnier.
You're holding your second art show on November 1st in New York City at Krause Gallery. How did this show come about? How did your first show go?
After the first show nearly sold out, I talked with the gallery and we decided if I were to continue this street art gag, they'd put on another show. So after I decided to go beyond Mr. Hanks, they followed through with their word.
How many pieces do you prepare for a show?
I have around 20 pieces for the upcoming show. Almost all exclusively non T. Hanks related.
Do you still keep your identity a secret? If so, will you attend your show?
I mostly do. I mean, these days I'm not so tight-lipped about it. Then again, I'm not broadcasting it to the world either. I'm super content with having just my circle of buddies know what I do. And yeah, even though I'm anonymous, I'll attend the show. Or at the least I'll pop in and say hello to some friends.
When someone experiences a Hanksy, what do you hope they feel?
The world is so fucking grim right now. At least in NYC, people walk around and pound the pavement, just completely hating themselves and the world around them. But guess what? Life's not so bad. The sun is up and your lungs are pumping. If a person comes across a little pasted poster bearing the likeness of George Clooney holding a phallic banana and it makes them chuckle, then that's great. If not, not a problem. But I just want people to lighten up a bit.
With the presidential election coming up, have you thought of doing any political pieces?
I'll probably stay away from the political realm. There's so much negativity involved in politics and my work attempts to be anything but negative. I'll leave the serious crap to the real politically active street artists.
Two final questions: Name your five favorite Tom Hanks roles.
Easy. The top three in no particular order: Ray Peterson from The 'Burbs, Walter Fielding in The Money Pit, and Joe Banks in Joe Versus The Volcano. Rounding out the list is FBI Agent Carl Hanratty in Catch Me If You Can and Jimmy Dugan in A League Of Their Own. Comedic Tom Hanks is the best Tom Hanks.
You're a master of puns and we're big fans of the '80s, so let's combine the two and put you on the spot. Describe a Hanksy involving Duran Duran to us.
It's a toss up. "Hungry Like A Wolf Blitzer" or "Simon Le Bon-er."
Never mind. It's the latter. Boners always win. Always.
More Hanksy: Official | Twitter