By 1998, Banksy had turned to the art of stenciling after realizing how much less time it took to complete a work. The urban legend claims the artist changed to stenciling while hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, when he noticed the stenciled serial number. By employing this technique, he was able to more quickly, discreetly, and efficiently execute street pieces – a winning combination when what you’re doing is illegal! It wasn’t long before he became highly regarded for his art around Bristol and London.
Banksy’s stencils often feature striking and humorous images that are occasionally paired with slogans. The message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist, or anti-establishment. Subjects often include animals such as monkeys or rats, as well as policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly that are recurring characters used to help articulate and convey a particular theme or message.
Before moving to London in the early 2,000, Banksy used stenciling heavily in Bristol, all of those have long disappeared. Here are just a few examples below.
Lenin on Roller Skates, Bristol, 1998
Precision Bombing, Bristol, 1999
Monkey Detonator, Bristol, 1999
Leopard Chasing Police, Bristol, 1999
CCTV Cameras, Bristol, 1999