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A rose by any other name

12 June 2018 | Liz Bowen

There are some people within the public arena for whom everything they touch appears to turn to gold.

Such is the anticipation for Adele’s next composition, for example, that everything she releases becomes a critically acclaimed, multi-platinum, award-winning success.

Likewise, acting stalwarts such as Dame Judi Dench and Meryl Streep seemingly only have to step onto a stage to garner praise.

In the art world, the same can be said of Banksy. Every time a new piece appears, it is guaranteed to make headlines across the world – not bad for someone who, for years, has managed to keep his identity secret despite the copious amounts of publicity just one of his pieces generates.

However, is Banksy’s star fading? No, of course it’s not, but the same can’t be said for Bryan S Gaakman…

The artist submitted a very Banksy-ish Brexit-themed painting to the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, only to have it rejected.

Fast forward to a month later, however, and the piece is now hanging in the academy’s gallery 3...

Confused? Well, it all comes down to the name. On his Instagram account, Banksy revealed that Bryan S Gaakman is actually an anagram of, well, ‘Banksy anagram’. All pretty simple when you put it like that.

In the same Instagram post, Banksy announced that following ‘Gaakman’s’ rejection, he had then been approached by the exhibition’s curator, Grayson Perry, to submit a piece (as himself, naturally). So, he sent in the same piece which then got accepted, obviously. And that is where our story ends.

Ok, so it’s not a PR campaign, but the ongoing mystery surrounding Banksy’s identity and the political nature and social commentary represented in his work really is a masterclass in brand awareness.

Many businesses and organisations can only dream of creating a such an effective campaign or stunt that it not only generates public interest upon its launch but is then able to maintain it, sporadically, over such a period of time.

It also goes to show the power behind the Banksy ‘brand’, that his name alone, like Adele, can yield such influence over the industry in which they operate.