Why NYC Graffiti Writers Hate Banksy

October 10th, 2013 by

So now that Banksy has been repeated dissed on the streets of NYC, his fans (and apparently even Banksy himself) are wondering why he is so well hated here. There is a variety of reasons:

1) The double standard

If a graffiti artist did what Banksy is doing - illegally tagging walls while leaving trace connections to how he can be found (someone is paying for that truck that's being driven around town)- they would be tracked down and arrested very quickly.

So far the NYPD has said nothing about this situation and so far as we know, they are not going to investigate these serial acts of vandalism. (Drawing on other peoples property in NYC is a crime - regardless of if it is "graffiti" or "street art" - both are "vandalism" in the eyes of NYC law. )

If Banksy were a graffiti writer, it would be a different story.

This fact is made clear by how graffiti artists are treated compared to street artists. When the brothers Sane Smith dominated the streets of NYC, they were repeatedly arrested. They were slapped with a 3 million dollar civil suit. When MUL crew painted an entire subway, they were sent to Rikers on felony charges, and given 5 years of probation - forcing them to leave the country entirely. And this is only recent history - back in the 70s and 80s when kids were out bombing subways, cops routinely beat the shit out if writers, sprayed their paint in their faces. And then maybe arrested them. Several writers were killed in confrontations with the police, Michael Stewart is one such example.

Meanwhile 'Street Artists" like Swoon, Over Under and Faile never get arrested.

The double standard within NYC could not be any clearer. If you are a real NYC writer, vandal squad will raid your house in the middle if the night or come to your job to arrest you. They will try to destroy your life: if your a street artist, they look the other way.

Just a few old school subway graffiti writers commenting on Banksy

Graffiti writers obviously hate cops but in the last few days many old school guys have publicly asked where the fuck are the cops?

Word is that undercover officers have been showing up to guard Banksy's latest works - waiting to arrest the likes if VX, Omar, BTM and Smart crew for dissing his work.

There's even this photo taken in front of a Banksy installation that was put up in East New York today. At the upper right you can clearly see one of the NYPD's street cameras - which had a clear line of sight on the wall Banksy painted on. They definitely got him on tape - the question is why aren't they using the evidence to track him down?


The bottom line is clear: street artists get protection, graffiti writers get arrested, beaten and occasionally killed.

2) The work sucks in comparison.

Check out this piece by Curve and compare it to nearly any banksy. The Curve piece took an hour or 2 of work to put up. Banksy's works are done behind a tarp protected from the eyes of passing cops and probably took 5 minutes to tops working with stencils.


This is but a tiny sample. There are literally hundreds of thousands of better works of art out there that are simply significantly better than nearly anything banksy is doing.

3) Press overload
Every day newspapers are cornering this garbage. Meanwhile actual street art innovators like Cost get little to no love. If banksy had some skills maybe I could understand the hype, but he doesn't. He's never painted an NYC Subway, or even on a subway platform here. He's never been chased by cops. He simply hasn't paid his NYC Dues, and hiding behind a tarp isn't going to fix that.

4) To round out the disgust - he doesn't even do the work himself.
Word on good authority is that he travels with a team that is paid to watch his back try put up tarps so the cops won't see him / no graffiti artist does that. Real writers like Omar step up even in daylight to crush shit, with no one watching their backs.

5) Straight beef.
In 2009 banksy went over a 20 year old graffiti piece done by London's King Robbo. His complete lack of respect is disgusting. Rule number six of the streets: don't go over graff that has survived a long time - no matter how rough it's looking. Especially bit graff from a well known well respected writer.

When you mess with one graffiti writer you often mess with everyone else they know, in this case, you mess with Robbo, you mess with Omar.

6) The millionaire factor
"For him to be pulling this off, he must be loaded. All the writers I know are working class dudes holding down day jobs - they can't go stalk a millionaire every night to go over him. They can't afford to rent a truck and pay some loser to drive it around all night. They can't afford to buy a junk car and rent a lot on the Lower East Side to dump it in. NYC writers are working class artists struggle to make a mark on the world. Banksy simply isn't an NYC artist. He never will be. He's clearly a privileged little snot who can afford big lawyers if he gets into trouble. The only real millionaire NYC writer is JA - and that cat paid dues fighting, beefing, and bombing for decades. I wish he'd step up and crush this banksy crap too". - NYC Writer, Name Withheld.

In conclusion, It's not jealously that drives writers to go over him so much as it is an overall disgust with how the NYPD doesn't arrest street artist/vandals, how bad his work is and how completely over-hyped it is. Destroying his work is the only route graffiti artists have to lash out at this perfect storm of ridiculous media saturation and stupidity.

28 responses to “Why NYC Graffiti Writers Hate Banksy”

  1. Popeye's Legacy of Shame says:

    great great piece; Banksy is dogshit and though I used to think his fans were worse, they’re both equally arrogant and vapid.

    As for the NYPD street cameras of East New York…

    I tend to think they ain’t catching anyone doing shit; be curious to track down contracts involved in purchasing & installing that crap, however. & where/what cops are actually ‘monitoring’ them at whatever interval.

  2. Jedi5 Tge says:

    Well put Control. It boils down to the general public not being able to process how complex of a subculture graffiti really is. They are forced to re-appropriate street art as graffiti because they can understand it in a gallery setting. I wonder how Banksy himself feels about all of this. If he is humbled by “real” graffiti or is ignorant to the efforts writers are putting in. It would be cool to tie him up Clockwork Orange style and force him to admit publicly to his inferiority.

    I do a lot of commercial artwork for clients and often times they ask me what I think of Banksky and “Exit Through The Gift Shop” and I have to be honest with them and explain to them what he does is not graffiti. Fuck it, I’m getting pissed off writing all of this. Goodnight.

  3. nailhed says:

    it is even ridiculous enough way out here in Detroit to the point where every time some new Midtown transplant spots a picture of a birdie done in stencil somewhere that they are instantly on FB & twitter claiming they have discovered a new banksy. the fiasco involving the removal of the wall from the Packard Plant that contained a tiny banksy was absolutely ludicrous and pathetic. gimme a fuckin break. whoooooocaaaaares. get off the guy’s jock. at very best, he is just one painter amongst hundreds of others. it ceases to be about “graffiti” or even anything resembling what you should/could call “street art” when people are going around removing entire walls from buildings to take them into an art gallery, because you painted on it.


    one thing everyone should learn about the “art world” is, he who has the $$$ or the connections, gets the fame. actual skill is almost irrelevant.

  4. boss nigga says:

    Im fucking sick of edgy hipster faggots seeking out banksy work as if that shit is worth a dime. If I came across that stand he had out near central park, i woulda dumped a hot load of steamy shit all over it

  5. Yan Pascal Tortellini says:

    Banksy is loathsome and though I’d love to see him get arrested just for the sake of equal opportunity, I’d love even more to see him IGNORED and dissed. The 9/11 garbage was the last straw– OBVIOUSLY he’s in it for self-glorification… Exactly what the fuck has this simp done for 9/11 health, survivors etc since that time? Yeah, exactly nothing you Limey fuck.

    That New Yorkers indulge this crap is beyond embarrassing.

  6. 147 NYC says:

    Great article ltv ! cant stand seeing this douche banksy in the paper everyday. gimme a crushed highway sign with some JA tags anyday!

  7. DCeet says:

    I think of banksy and herring the same way. Someone in a gallery said “Hey look!! ” and bang money. I have been doing my thing in Chicago for over 20 years. I have been to city gatherings and alone on my own. Never has anyone ever said to me that they respect them or think it is fair.

  8. Johnnyh says:

    You all do sound a bit baby’ish. He doesn’t get arrested but we do….so what not sure him getting arrested makes it better for you. The world is a small place maybe you should get out more.

  9. Nomark says:

    Well you boys are all a bit jealous aren’t you. Have the paint in NYC is pretty shit to be honest- problem is you all can’t see that as your world revolves around the small area that is ny.
    So banksy hasn’t bombed cars, so what. It’s a bit pathetic it still be doing that shit in your 30s isn’t it. Or to be holing on to your working class routes and complaining against the man.
    Banksy is innovative, has gone over multiple mediums and achieved more across the world in the last 20yrs than NYC writers will ever do. it’s quite simply, ain’t no playahata like a NYC hata. Listening to you all is like watching an episode of basketball wives…,

  10. Control says:

    Nomark it’s pretty clear you have zero reading comprehension skills if you believe anyone around here is ‘jealous’ of banksy.

    He’s not innovative, and he’s not one person mastering multiple mediums. He’s a long con, nothing more. You’ve been conned, and you’re a fucking fool for it.

  11. Control says:

    Johnnyh maybe you should grow half a brain stem and learn how to write a coherent sentence.

  12. Nomark says:

    Yeah, not quite control, not quite. U think there isn’t jealous amongst your people, let’s have a look at your weak articles arguments shall we?
    1. Your jealous that you boys get arrested still and he evades it. Your jealous that the police respects and appreciates his art and that of other big names, but that your weak tags are vilified. Weird eh? Go figure. Perhaps you should be a bit smarter about how u do things then u wouldn’t be caught
    2. The work sucks by comparison? Was that really the best pic u could find? I’ve seen better by blind quadriplegics. Art is a matter of taste but ask any stencil artist and they will tell u about the time taken to even prepare the stencil before they spray. Jealous of his skills and the fact that they are critically acclaimed
    3. He hasn’t paid his dues? Where are- at school. This is pathetic. So he is a global name but hasn’t paid his dues? Jealous of his immediate success and acclimation per chance?
    4. He has a crew. So what? I suppose you would vilify Van Gogh for this too?
    5. Do u even know who robbo is or any details of the piece or the location. If u did u would drop this argument
    6. Jealous of commercial success. What commercial success by the way? What money? He sells his pieces below cost so where does the money come from? I love the fact u ref a clear sellout on the scene and also others like u who do commercial work, but u don’t realise the irony of your comments. Banksy has never done a commercial job in his life because he is true to what he believes, where as that conveniently goes missing for u. Jealous again perhaps?

    U should sit back, and watch the show and enjoy it. Enjoy basking in his reflected glory and enjoy the ride. It’s the most positive attention u will get for a while

  13. Control says:

    Cute, you actually think you’re going to win an argument here. Here is a hint: you didn’t, you won’t, and you never will. Because flat out I’m smarter than you. With that disclaimer, let’s go:

    1. You’re a fucking idiot. The problem is Banksy is multiple people and our legal system is pretty backwards. Proving one person is responsible for everything called ‘Banksy’ would take a pretty large legal effort on behalf of the detectives investigating and the DA’s office.

    2. That wasn’t the best pic I could find. I could found millions of better works of art being created yearly that are far, far better, and significantly more worthy of praise. If you haven’t seen better, you’re a fucking idiot. Open your eyes. You’ve been conned.

    3. If you want fame in NYC you better put in serious work over years. He’s a flash in the pan who’ll be forgotten here on November 1st.

    4. He has people he’s paying to to work for him. That’s not art, it’s a job.

    5. Yes I do – far better than most, and that was the worst argument against that situation I’ve ever read.

    6. Jealous jealous jealous. The only person jealous here is you – you’re jealous that I wrote a very clear well reasoned article explaining why people hate Banksy. Your simple, retarded mind though seems to only comprehend one word though – one invalid word.

    Do yourself a favor, don’t bother trying to post another comment becomes I’m going to delete it before approving it.

    If any of you banksy cock-suckers have an actual viable argument explaining why NYC Graffiti writers shouldn’t hate banksy, come on out with it. Otherwise your comments are irrelevant to this article entirely.

    Thanks for playing.

  14. Jules Winnfield's Wallet says:

    Nomark –

    Regarding your first comment … you said half the paint in NYC is shit ( i think thats what you meant when you typed have the paint in nyc is shit)

    There is a reason why it doesnt look like the Wynwood district and it is due to the the timeless vendetta between the Vandal Squad, local politicians, and true graffiti artists. I think the real vets of the sport dont want a wynwood district in NYC. I do think the legal walls are beautiful, but it is a complete different genre of graffiti than street graf. Second, I would love for you to repeat that comment other than behind a computer screen… anywhere in the world.

    Than you paint a picture of control as some working class guy in his 30’s who works a route and complains against the man.. do you know him ??

    And that basketball wives comment… you ever hang out at a legal wall… thats basketball wives drama… far from hardcore street graf..

    1. Not jealous, pointing out a legitimate double standard…

    We have locals graf artists who cant re-enter the country without Vandal Squad looking to stick chili peppers up their asses.

    2 ,,. cant say that one better than control did.

    3.. no he hasnt paid his dues in NYC at least.

    and graf does coexist nicely with street art in NYC..see underbelly…

    Plenty of out of towners paid their dues… Lewy off the top of my head… Espo… Adek… Cycle .. IMOK… Milk.. Neon..Bates.. Mast..

    many writers are lining banksy, they are just subjecting him to the rules of NY street graf.. nothing new..

    Where is your support when VS bucket paints entire productions ?? When Scant literally lined every wildstyle in the 5 boroughs ?

    Why did hipsters complain when Adek went over cope and shepherd fairey, but dont give two shits about cope bucket painting over Ovie on camera.

    One drop of water will never claim itself responsible for a mighty flood… its deep…

    4. You heard of Milli Vanilli right ???

    5. … none of NY’s business.

    6. Jealous, I’d love to see Banksy paint ANY spot documented here at ltvsquad.com

  15. chix says:

    7.) Hes corny.

  16. Control says:

    You can say that again…

  17. drama says:

    just had to add my 2 cents

    Only a fool wouldn’t respect NY, eight million stories

    and, yeah, this banksy hype is some hipster shit

    I don’t think his work is that great and I’ll probably smile if when his stuff gets dissed, but I can’t hate on it simply cause he makes some shit yuppies pay millions for

    I just don’t respect Banksy as a writer cause HE’S NOT A WRITER, so what’s up with all these stupid comparisons with BTM and shit?

    when Panik ATG talks about beef with GSD, he gets it right about the graff vs. street art stuff (read the end of the paragraph about GSD)

    down on the street, you get dissed, grab the bats and some fats, (how we do it ny right?) but this internet talk is shit for the birds

    fuck VS

  18. L says:

    Blah blah blah I think NYC writers are all assholes and I invite them to rape me.

  19. Control says:

    L I fixed your comment for you. if you want to cry to someone go to a gay bar. Oh wait that’s right they’re sick of you too.

  20. e says:

    Banksy bit his hole style from “la rat” took his ideas ,concepts even that rat he does is a direct bite off la rats rat….the only art hes good at is being con-artist and he deff. should get the same treatment in NY that robo got in the UK ….a strait beat down , that fool don’t respect graff he showed us already …fuck banksy……..let him come to las Vegas hell get slapped like robo smacked his ass……. .personally graff and street art …to different things……

  21. Trev says:

    Im from London. Writers here HATE banksy. Was bad enough he went over one of Londons oldest and 1st graffiti pieces from the early 80’s by King Robbo. But once it turned out that banksys shit running on the district line was actually him paying a west London subway writer to do it, all respect was lost. After Robbo ended up in a coma (he never recovered RIP) It got to the point where a crew with open invite happened, calling all real London writers – TEAM ROBBO, where ANY writer (yes any) in London could put up and join, simply to show respect and support for Robbo. You then had 1000’s of writers city-wide lining banksys shit. Payback. Fucking double-standards world we live in, that cunt banksy would be a prince…….

  22. Control says:

    A similar thing happened here, with Omar repping ‘team robbo’ a time or two when he dissed banksy. Other writers just went over them (because banksy is not one person) just out of principal. Here, real writers like utah & ether got a year in jail – while these banksy clowns were running around (and very easy to find, mind you) facing absolutely no criminal charges.

    That’s ok. The streets will clean up the trash that cops and politicians ignore.

  23. FLS says:

    actually cost (adam cole) come from money so does mq dms. cole was infamously arrested with his porsche. who’s to say they dont buy their influence? and alot of the things you said about banksy also holds true for j.a. like having the money to hire lawyers or simply buy out the cops. you ever notice how after “decades of tagging”, why cops dont go after j.a. well it might have something to do with his daddy. not exactly my idea of a “real writer” from the streets, because i’m assuming most dont have the protection of their daddy even though theyre in their 50s with white hair. although utah ether did time, they also come from money, and i’m certain if they didnt have money, they woulda been in jail longer, and couldnt have afforded to just skip town. yea, jim clay’s dad was a corporate executive who died young, which explains where jr gets his money. either the graf scene really isnt as bonafide as you think, or the graf scene is just completely saturated with petty bourgeoisie.

  24. Control says:

    FLS – actually, no on U & E. They received a pretty stiff sentence and would have spent more time behind bars had it not been for the fact that it was a non-violent crime, and rikers island is an overstuffed sardine can. I’d not classify either as particularly wealthy.

    I don’t think the cops can find JA these days. He doesn’t hit the streets hard enough for the limited personnel at VS to bother trying to find him. They went after him hard when he was active, though sentencing for graffiti was a slap on the wrist back then. If they gave every tagger they arrested in the 80s and 90s a year in jail, they would have had to convert central park into one huge prison.

    Let’s look at Hert – don’t think he came from any money, and he did what, 3 years? I guess he doesn’t count?

    The ability to buy street level cops is something of a myth. They would never trust a payoff from some random stranger who gets caught tagging, as it could easily be an IAB sting. They’re paid ok and the pension they get is nuts, so taking a pennies on the dollar payout isn’t going to work for most.

    Banksy is a team of people. They’ll never have my respect.

    If you’re a writer in NYC these days, you’re either living with your mom or working hard to live in some closet sized apartment and racking paint cuz you can’t afford to just breeze into town for a month long holiday in some fancy hotel.

    Maybe you’re lucky and making money but even then lawyers are expensive AF here.

    I know more than one writer who has been forced to leave NYC due to economics. Cost of living here is bananas, so anyone that actually lives here gets my respect, even if they only get out to bomb a few times a year.

  25. Sickest overlapping xecution says:

    I hear mul crew is a bunch of little fags. They do each other every chance. Teel the toy rat the biggest fag of all. Don’t paint shit, thinks he’s a king.

  26. Bad Guy Joe says:

    I am sorry to hear Cope2’s cock is stuck up your ass. Please report to your nearest ER and get yourself tested for HIV while you are there.

  27. Craig says:

    I don’t think it really matters whether a writer comes from from money or not. Sure, it’s birth is on the streets, but that’s not to say that someone whose privileged, and is able to paint better than someone dirt poor, is less valid. That’s just the reverse of class snobbery, and is irrelevant to the output. For example, who cares if Adam Cost had money or not? What he did with Revs was innovative, never done before, and unavoidable. Therefore, it’s relevant, impressive and groundbreaking. JA… Although his father was a millionaire, JA himself lived the absolute street life! He wasn’t financed by “daddy!” He stole his paint! Was repeatedly beaten by cops. Knew every darkened corner of the city, underground system and crack house. JA lived the streets, and paid more dues to the scene than almost anyone! Nobody can discredit that guy, apart from perhaps disagreeing with some of his Beefs (the SABER piece in the LA River is one that springs to mind). Utah and Ether, whilst it’s true that they probably ARE well financed (you can’t travel the world to the extent that they do without a healthy cash flow) they genuinely live the “outlaw” life more notoriously, than pretty much anyone active today! They’re a male and female team, world famous and literally “on the run,” more often than not. Arrested all over the world. The “Bonnie and Clyde” thing, has never happened in Graffiti, so I think there’s a bit of interest there too! While their writing style is nothing particularly impressive, their relevance and respect is in “who they are.” Aside from maybe the “NAWAS Crew” or “Moses & Taps,” I can’t think of many REAL graffiti writers as noteworthy in 2017!! That’s not to discredit anyone else who’s active, it’s just hard to stand out with much that’s noteworthy in this day and age where seemingly everything’s been tried. (Katsu’s attempts at a graffiti writing drone, was a novel idea, but it doesn’t redeem the fact that Katsu is talentless). Banksy doesn’t fit into the graffiti world whatsoever… He’s a STREET ARTIST. There is no comparison between what he does, and say, a legend like SEEN. They’re totally incomparable. Having said that… I don’t dislike Banksy. I think his pieces are quirky and enjoyable. My issue with Banksy though, is, as previously touched upon… How the public and authorities go crazy for his work at the cost of anyone else getting noticed. There are HUNDREDS of better artists out there, who are actually pushing fresh ideas (Banksy didn’t invent the stencil, it was being used in street art way before)… Too many other people, who are more inventive and better artists are getting ignored because people ONLY know Banksy! Which is unfortunate. I hear what New Yorkers are saying about him “not paying his dues” to the New York scene, but that’s history. Banksy isn’t a graffiti writer! And while I agree that real old skool graf artists deserve a ton more respect for dodging cops & sneaking through yards… What Banksy is doing, ISNT what they did! Sure it might be pussy in comparison, but it’s a different art form. The only comparison, is that they’re both done illegally in public places. I don’t mind street art to be fair. I think it can co exist with real graffiti without anyone stepping on anyone else. Graffiti writers saying he shouldn’t exist, and destroying his work, is like CAP bombing over amazing murals back in the 80’s, and man, did everyone hate that guy! Because he was a jealous idiot, who couldn’t “piece,” so he bombed that terrible throw up, over far better work. Who remembers him from Style Wars, saying Bombers and Graffiti Artists couldn’t co exist? So he destroyed their work? That’s what those Graffiti writers hating on Banksy sound like now… There’s room for everything, if you leave the ego at home. Lots of New York writers get by on legend alone. CAP for one! SKUF is another. That throw up is damn sloppy, yet he’s regarded as a “king?” Nah, man! Something poor, is STILL poor, even if it’s written a million times! Volume doesn’t do improve style. Ghost, PJ, IZ, MIN… They were all reasonably good, but the era of the throw up produced a lot of crap, compared to the era of LEE, BLADE, DONDI ect… COPE2 could piece, but he favoured his throw up too much, where the “P” looks like and “E.” I never got what he did that so much, when the guy is actually worthy or real nice murals.

  28. the bourgeoisie like banksy. and thats all that matters

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    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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