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Why Street Artists Make Good Heroes — Jamie Brenner Schools Us

Have you heard people talking about street art and Banksy and wonder just what exactly is happening? Because we are right there with you. Generally we just nod and try to look smart. But today we’ve got Jamie Brenner, author of the upcoming, street art hero-starring Ruin Me, to tell us about this latest phenom and how it inspired her latest romance. School us, Jamie!

You might have heard the term “street artist” bandied around lately — in the news, in television shows, in movies. Yeah, it’s a “thing.”

The cover of Ruin Me

The first real street artist on my radar was the notorious British artist called Banksy. No one knows his true identity. I learned about him by watching the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, and I basically got obsessed. Here’s a guy who dashes around in the dark of night, painting the sides of buildings or creating “installations” to provoke and entertain people. He’s managed to sneak his art onto the walls of major museums. He has something to say, and he didn’t wait for the art establishment to give him permission to say it. (This past fall, he spent a month in New York and made his mark all over the city.)

Another artist who appears in the documentary is Shepard Fairey, an American street artist who is best known for creating the Barak Obama “Hope” poster during the 2008 campaign. Street art comes with glory, but not without risk: a prominent artist called King Robbo who had a very public feud with Banksy fell — presumably while trying to paint — and is in a coma to this day. In 1990, graffiti artist Sane — a forefather to the current street art scene — was found dead in the waters of Flushing Bay, New York. (His brother, also an artist, went on to marry the most famous woman in graffiti, Lady Pink. Her work can currently be seen on display at the Museum of the City of New York.)

Why is street art so hot right now? One reason might be that as the super-rich control the art world, artists are trying to take it back. As the New York Daily News wrote recently (after a Jeff Koonz Balloon Dog statue sold for $58.4 million at auction) “As the .00001 percent run out of mansions to buy, they’ve poured their wealth into art. And not art many would find, well, good.”

Street art subverts the whole gallery/auction/big money system. It’s the self-publishing of the art world. It’s getting bigger by the day and it’s changing the game. And that in itself makes these guys (and gals) my heroes.  

- Jamie Brenner

Ruin Me is available digitally this week! For more edgy love stories, be sure to visit our Everything Romance page.