No, Banksy isn’t tagging Baltimore

In one of the most-discussed posts on the Baltimore subreddit this weekend, people wondered if the elusive artist Banksy had come to town and left some artwork in Canton.

The graffiti is certainly reminiscent of some of Banksy’s pieces — it features bold lettering and stenciling, like much of his artwork. But it’s almost certainly not.

The wall in question, off Fait Avenue near South Potomac Street, features two pieces. One shows a woman wearing a bandana over her face and holding a can of spray paint. It’s actually a replication of another street artist’s work.

It’s a re-creation of a piece by the artist Eddie Colla, complete with the phrase “If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission” in all-caps, block lettering.

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The piece from Colla originally appeared in 2010, according to an interview with the artist. He’s since used the phrase and the image of the woman multiple times, as on this stop sign in Oakland or this piece in San Francisco.

Earlier this year, Colla re-released the piece, including as an NFT. The artist said in an email Monday morning that it “definitely wasn’t” him that produced the piece in Canton.

Colla said that the piece gets ripped off “constantly” and that he’s seen it in California, Italy, Thailand and Vietnam.

“It happens a lot,” he wrote in an email.

Another feature on the wall is two fancy looking rats and a red carpet leading to a sewer grate. This one does appear to be a re-creation of an older Banksy piece. Decals and stencils that mimic the piece are widely available online.

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Graffiti in an alley off Fait Avenue near S. Potomac Street in Canton looks like it could be done by the artist Banksy. But both images are recreations of existing pieces.
The fancy rats are a re-creation of a Banksy piece often referred to as “red carpet rats” or “red carpet dinner service.” (Ben Conarck/The Baltimore Banner)

While Banksy himself does not have contact information listed online, the office that “handles the paperwork” for the artist, Pest Control, does. An automated message from the company was received Monday.

“Your mail has been received and although a comment or reply may not be forthcoming we appreciate you getting in touch,” the email said. “Every press request is carefully considered.”

While one commenter on Reddit joked that the piece could be from “Baltsy,” a local variation of Banksy, Baltimore already has its own well-known street artist in Reed Bmore, known for his wire art.

Now, whether the artist behind the Colla and Banksy knockoffs is RLong? That’s a question nobody can answer.

Cody Boteler a reporter on The Banner’s Express Desk, reporting on breaking news, trending stories and interesting things in and around Baltimore. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, USA TODAY, Baltimore magazine and others. 

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