Rossie: OK, so why do you call yourself Pranksky?
Pranksky: It seemed like a good name for a street artist and all my team at Prank Sky Media agreed…in fact a week after coining the name, we saw the name ‘Pranksy’ in an article about ‘how to become a street artist’ in a UK magazine. We thought that a journalist might have overheard our conversations in the Lion and Sun… Of course it echoes the name of the artist who is obsessed with ‘bombing’ Robbo’s pieces – but it also references Sky Media, so it’s an appropriately ‘hybrid’ name.
Rossie: What’s the Lion and Sun?
Pranksky: It’s the name of our favourite pub in Highgate, London…the birthplace of Prank Sky Media.
Rossie: Oh yes, this Prank Sky Media company – is this just you, you and Team Robbo or you and other people?
Pranksky: A good question, sometimes Prank Sky Media is me, but it can be my friend Dave and sometimes Alan – does it matter?… we are just a bunch of artist friends. I have had up to a dozen assistants, especially when we got into film making.
Rossie: You seem to enjoy playing with other artist’s images. Why is that?
Pranksky: It’s a faster way of making art – much less thinking to do.
Rossie: Do you make any preparatory drawings for your pieces and do you ever manifest your work physically?
Pranksky: Mainly no to both points – we sometimes create our own photographs and integrate these with other photographers’ work and occasionally, if push comes to shove, we will make a piece on a wall.
Rossie: What about the actual street art itself? Is it yours or the work of other artists?
Pranksky: Yes, that’s right.
Rossie: Sometimes you seems to be just copying other artists…
Pranksky: They’re just the small ones. For the big ones we make all the art ourselves.
Rossie: You mean you create real art?
Pranksky: Believe it or not – yes.
Rossie: When did you first start working with Team Robbo?
Pranksky: During the ‘Turf Wars’ in Camden – we bumped into Robbo, quite by accident, late at night when he was re-working another artist’s piece and we were photographing it. We got talking and one thing led to another…
Rossie: What made you focus on Team Robbo’s work?
Pranksky: We became aware of the amazing heritage of Robbo’s work and the creative energy of the Team Robbo crew…We were impressed by the strong but loose-fit connection of the individual members, this somehow seems to make the whole crew even more powerful. It’s been awe inspiring to see how quickly Team Robbo have gained supporters throughout the world and not just graffiti writers…but from a much more diverse audience.
Rossie: You describe you work more as ‘media’ than as ‘art’, can you elaborate?
Pranksky: Yes, well it’s quite clear that in the last few year’s there’s been an exponential growth in the quantity, quality and diversity of street art and graffiti…to a point where it’s been been widely acknowledged that these forms of art have perhaps become the most vital and dynamic of our time. We are therefore simultaneously witnessing the unprecendented growth of an international audience for this work, mainly achieved through the dissemination of images of the work via the internet. Street art and graffiti have therefore become the new Pop Art and the work often exists quite outside of traditional art market forces. Our work is a kind of ‘muse’ on this process.
Rossie: Is there any similarity between you at Prank Sky Media and Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’?
Pranksky: I guess in broad terms there might be perceived similarities but we are not really interested in commercial production in the way that drove Warhol…we are more interested in playing with the ideas that surround commercialism, in our output.
Rossie: Are you into movie production?
Pranksky: We’re certainly developing in this direction- our idea was to make a movie about the making of a movie and strangely this has become true…somewhere along the line actual movie companies have become involved and this has confused us even more.
Rossie: You seem to have upset quite a few people in the street art world and alienated some by your support for graffiti artists…
Pranksky: Any creative work is going to upset somebody..the undercurrent of disbelief in graffiti as a credible art form is entertaining to us..it looks like graffiti will soon become accepted into the mainstream, only to be overtaken, no doubt, by a new alternative underground art movement.
Rossie: What about your transformation from being a media artist to a real artist.
Pranksky: To be quite honest I don’t see any distinction…art is media.
Rossie: So almost all artists are media artists, just to varying degrees?
Pranksky: I think so.
Rossie: What has happened to the idea of good art?
Pranksky: It’s all good art.
Rossie: Is that to say that it’s all equal and nothing’s bad?
Pranksky: Why don’t you ask Vandalog about that – he’s the expert in these matters.
Rossie: Do you mean that you don’t see any difference between good and bad?
Pranksky: Well, I can tell the difference but to be quite honest, the public can’t – they will buy any art that they think will go up in value. I don’t really see why one Damien Hirst sells for a million and a Robbo sells for £50 right now. Sometime in the future these prices could easily reverse. They both produce good or bad art depending on your point of view.
Rossie: Do you think the art market is changing?
Pranksky: In some ways yes – in some ways no. I think the people who buy art now are younger people who have a lot of money. Art for them is part entertainment and part investment. Of course they think they make up their own minds about who they ‘like’, but they are simply being manipulated.
Rossie: Surely street art and graffiti exist outside of the traditional art market?
Pranksky: Yes and no…there is a fascinating relationship between the street and the gallery and this relationship is still being explored.
Rossie: What media do you enjoy?
Pranksky: I just look at everything.
Rossie: You look at everything? – Do you read art magazines?
Pranksky: No, but I look at the pictures.
Rossie: You’ve been criticised for using other people’s images. What do you think about the legal situation of appropriated imagery, and the copyright situation?
Pranksky: Whatever the copyright laws, creative people will always find creative ways of using other people’s stuff. Just look at the music industry… We are actually pretty careful to stick to the rules of the Creative Commons, however there are many contradictions underlying the commons, that creates a state of confusion.
Rossie: If you were starting out now as a young artist, what advice would you give?
Pranksky: I don’t know – just work hard…it’s all fantasy.
Rossie: Life is fantasy or art is fantasy?
Pranksky: Yes, it is.
Rossie: What’s real?
Rossie: Some people would disagree.
Pranksky: Would they?
Rossie: Do you really believe it, or tomorrow you might say the opposite?
Pranksky: I don’t know. I like this idea that you can say the opposite. That’s what interested Andy Warhol.
Rossie: But you wouldn’t in this case?
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