Toronto might be basking in a post-Bansky thrall, but in his absence, the city still has its own graffitist of note: Posterchild.
A street-artist-cum-ad-buster who operates in the shadowy mode of the British master, Posterchild (not his real name, at least that we know of) is known for adorning public places with his elegant stencilling and his homemade Mario Blocks. And for planting trees in phone booths - when they existed. Most recently, The Globe and Mail caught up with him after his puzzling act of swapping out ads from an InfoToGo booth with his own hand-drawn posters detailing the history of the Canada Life Tower.
A six-foot-tall man with tousled hair and a tattered baseball jacket who arrived on a longboard, the chronic by-law transgressor discussed the finer points of Bansky's sudden appearance this week.
Q: What stands out to you about Banksy's debut in Toronto?
A: The most interesting thing about these pieces is the reactions people have been having. In Toronto, from what I've been seeing online and hearing from friends, the reaction seems mostly one of legitimization and validation. For whatever it's worth, Toronto is on Banksy's list, right?
There's also this huge amount of controversy … around the postings of posters for [his film] which is illegal advertising. They're all over the city. It's a major illegal wild posting campaign.
Q: And that's not very Banksy-ian, is it?
A: If you asked a bunch of people to describe what Banksy's work is like, I think in there would be "clever," "brilliant," maybe "beautiful" but certainly "anti-advertising" or at least "anti-corporate," "anti-commercialism," "anti-consumerism." All of these things are very much a part of all his pieces. So for him … to be engaged or involved in whatever way with illegal advertising is an obvious contradiction.
Q: As a street artist yourself, what are your feelings about Banksy being in Toronto?
A: I would like to have seen Banksy visit Toronto for its own merits and not simply coming to promote his film. Should we feel honored that he's decided to paint our walls or should we feel outraged that he's come here … for self-promotion, for advertising?
Q: What distinguishes advertising from art?
A: What separates illegal street art and advertising is not methods, is not location. It is not structure. It's not content. It is intent. Most street artists … talk about doing it to add a moment of communication … whereas an advertising campaign will be scrapped if it doesn't sell the product or increase a sense of brand awareness.
Q: Let's talk about Banksy's spray-painted stencils. They were found around Toronto earlier this week and came at the heels of his new film.
A: Well, [he painted]a banker saying "0% interest in people" and "Will Work for Idiots." These seem to be more targeted towards finances and perhaps the upcoming G20 and these are the issues he works with.
But the question is, Is what he's doing a contradiction to his well-known attitudes against advertising?
I mean, he is promoting the film with these artworks. He's traveled to all these cities to coincide with the openings of the film to make the stencil works on the streets ... how different are these stencils from other illegal advertising?
[CUT: This summer, according to Mr. Seiler, will see him reunite with Posterchild to lead a large scale, advertising-related project in Toronto.]/note>
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