First came Banksy, the street art prankster who mixes in a heavy dose of sardonic social commentary with humor, whose work can fetch hundreds of thousands, and whose did-he-or-didn’t-he documentary was nominated for an Academy Award.
Then came Milbanksy, the hyper-local street artist focused on D.C. social issues and named after my colleague, Post columnist Dana Milbank. In a manifesto sent to the Washington City Paper, Milbanksy said, “We thought his image would foster discussion about journalism, marketing and the trend toward super-local news. Dana Milbank inspires polarized views — liberal hack or insightful iconoclast — so would people rather denigrate him or praise him?” The artist behind Milbanksy retired shortly thereafter.
Next was a Banksy parodist with a Hollywood spin: Hanksy, the Tom Hanks tribute street artist.
Hanksy, who has been tagging the Lower East Side of New York since August, takes some of Banksy’s most popular works of street art — the flower-thrower, the rat — and reinterprets them with characteristics of Tom Hanks characters from his most famous films. The Banksy flower-thrower, for example, was redone with Tom Hanks’ face, throwing “Wilson,” the volleyball from the 2000 film “Cast Away.” Other Hanksy works have referenced “Catch Me If You Can,”and “You’ve Got Mail.” He recently had a show at New York’s Krause Gallery.
In an interview with the Awl, Hanksy said that he considered making a meme, but decided on street art instead.
“Usually things like this exist on the Internet,” he said. “Tumblr is full of things similar. But seeing as how it's based upon one of the world’s most famous street artists, it felt right, like it should be on some crumbling NYC brick wall, not a vertical scrolling blog.”
But now that Hanksy has branched out to other celebrities — Ted Danson and Ryan Gosling among them — he may encounter a branding problem. Though he wouldn’t be able to keep up the Hanks schtick forever, his new focus leaves an opening for another Banksy parodist to capitalize on the name wordplay.
So, who will step up to be the next Banksy parodist? There are a handful of possibilities. The name Pranksy holds great promise for a street artist. For a Washington Banksy who outsmarts Milbanksy, there’s always Think-Tanksy. Franksy? Thanksy? Swanksy? Sauvignon Blancsy? They’re all up for grabs.