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Interview with Hanksy

11:11 AM PDT on May 19, 2013

How famous are you?

If one were to compare my fame with the frequency of which certain Seinfeld characters make appearances in the long-running NBC sitcom, I'd probably fall alongside Bryan Cranston's Dr. Tim Whatley. Meaning not quite near Newman's prominence, but definitely above Lloyd Braun. Serenity Now!

Whatley was kind of a perv from what I remember, whereas most of your work that I've seen doesn't seem to be overtly sexual. Have you done nudes or more explicit work?

Besides the occasional nude self portrait, which are only done from the neck up, my work is anything but sexual. I mean, I once painted Al Pacino’s head on a bikini clad female beach body. But I’d consider that anti-sexual.


I don't know, I found Weird Gal Yankovic oddly alluring, maybe I've just seen UHF too many times. Given that you do work within the idea of celebrity alot, I wonder if you keep current on gossip?

If I'm bored and a celeb rag is sitting on the table next to me, I'll pick it up to waste the time. Same goes with the television. But it's not like I'm sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see the reviews of a Teen Mom's fabricated sextape leaked to the public.

How would you characterize your personal connection to the actors/entertainers/etc. that you use in your art?

Generally all public figures I send-up or lampoon are celebrities that I enjoy. Either currently or in the past. So it's gentle nudging that should, at least in my eyes, come across as a pun driven hat tip. Except if it's Kim Kardashian. That ho need to go.

Bob Hope said “Over the years, I have been subjected to many indignities, all for the sake of Art. If I ever catch him, I'm going to kill the guy.” How have you suffered? Is it important to you to make others suffer too?

Great quote. I haven't really suffered all that much. I spent years scribbling on walls and drawing on things simply because I enjoyed doing it. Then two years ago I decided to adopt a silly moniker and poke a little fun at Banksy and suddenly I became quite popular. And I've been going with the flow ever since. Oh and I've been arrested a couple times. That kinda sucked.

As far as making other people suffer, a good chunk of my art and the related puns are so god awful bad, I'm sure I've made more than a few people miserable. It is bad dad humor after all.


Dad humor is a good genre description. What do you think it is about Dad humor that works right now for people? Are you close with your own dad and what does he think about all of this?

At its core, my work is straightforward and uncomplicated. And I think that in 2013 people need a little bit of effortless laughter.

I am close with my father, but like any relationship we have our ups and downs. He’s a great guy and although I didn’t follow in his footsteps and dropped out of law school and all that, he’ll always support what I do. Legal or otherwise.


So was there a specific moment, in law school or before/after when you realized that doing art was the thing you had to do?

Not really. And it wasn't even until after I dropped out that I decided I wanted to do art. I just knew that I didn't want to be a lawyer and the specific 'eureka' moment came the day I had to sign my first big tuition check. That was a big fat nopity nope nope.

Had you experimented in other mediums before putting up work in the street, e.g. were you always an artist who found the streets as a canvas or did the idea of doing something in the streets spark your interest first?

I was a big doodler growing up. Walls or notebooks, that's how I passed my time. I even had aspirations of being an illustrator for Disney. But as far as creating art as an adult, it's always been spray paint and street work. Even before my time as Hanksy, I scribbled on cement and brick walls. It was never an ego thing either, I just find the accessibility of public art more appealing than that holding court inside four walls and a ceiling.

How do you like L.A.?

So far it's great. What is not to love? Sunshine and an abundance of vertical walls. My view might be a bit skewed however, since it's based upon a living-vs-visiting situation.


Are you living in LA now or just visiting? As an outsider, what's your favorite place to put up art in LA so far?

I’m still living in the super duper hip hood that is Brooklyn, NY. But as far as LA goes, I’ve only visited a couple of times. Both times were earlier this year and both times I was super busy painting and doing various art things, so I really didn’t get a good chance to see the city. However I did get up to see the Griffith Observatory one night. I know that is a considerably tourist thing to do, but it is still a hell of a view.

When it comes to putting up art, I tend to enjoy the spots that aren’t necessarily known for street art. The odd corner or dark underpass. The type of spot that one offers a surprise encounter to those walking by. It’s the same in any city, New York or LA.

NYC seems to be part of your identity as a person and an artist. Is that where you're from?

I only just moved to NYC roughly two years back and before that I was living in Chicago. I grew up throughout the Midwest, bouncing around from state to state every couple of years.

So when did you get to New York and what brought you there?

I actually got transferred here. I was doing a lot of copy writing for various companies and one of them decided to offer me a position in NYC. So I jumped at the chance.

What keeps you in the city?

The city is so god damn vibrant. Both in sight and sound it's perfect for anyone needing stimulation.


What can we expect to see at your show at Gallery 1988 later this month?

I'm super stoked about it. The gallery is top notch and they don't play into the whole art world circle jerk that many galleries tend to get stuck in. I'll have probably30-40 pieces on display. One of which is a 15 foot inflatable Tom Hanks rat. Which will be fun.

Check out the show "How the West was Pun" this weekend at Gallery 1988, it should be a lot of fun. You can also watch this video of Hansky doing his thing with his face blurred and voice distorted.

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