Hanksy Banksy

Is satirical copy also copyright infringement? Even if the satire is commercially exploited?

Banksy is the pseudonym of an England-based graffiti artist/political activist. His satirical street art combines dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique. Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.

Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti directly himself, although art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder.

But then there is artist Christopher Lee Rios, also known as ‘Hanksy’. A street artist who puts Tom Hanks’ face on copies of Banksy’s art.

Hanksy himself says about his art: “I take iconic images from the UK street artist Banksy and mash it up with a reference from Academy Award winning actor, Tom Hanks.”

“I guess I am subverting the subversive. It’s a bit of everything really. Celebrating his work while also softly pointing out how mainstream and accepted street art has become to the general public. But not everything in life is meant to be taken so seriously.”

Hanksy has recently had his first art show at the Krause Gallery in New York City.

Is this copyright infringement? Or merely artists inspiring other artists? As it should be in art.

See some of the Hanksy-Bansky examples here (left is Bansky):

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