When I first started on this post, I was unsure how to write it. I started off getting all artsy, but it sounded too try hard. The truth is, I would just be bullshitting the whole thing, or stealing other people’s points of view. So all you are going to get here is how I banked on Banksy and how I initialy started out. I believe starting anything and getting momentum is the hardest part. Which Is why I have concentrated the majority of this post with that in mind. I hope you enjoy.
To get things clear.
- I am no artist. My knowledge of art is the same as any average Joe’s.
- When I was fourteen I was awarded an art scholarship at my high school. I am proud to say I am one of the worst artists to ever be awarded an art scholarship. I just happened to win over the headmaster in the interview. Ironically there was a fantastic artist in the room that day who submitted a whole portfolio of graffiti canvases that were out of this world. He was not awarded the scholarship as the teachers did not classify graffiti as “art”
- Nothing I did was extraordinary. I eventually hired two contractors to automate the sales funnel. That was as fancy as it got.
- Everything I did is fully replicable. Only if you want it to be 🙂
What I did have was.
- Desire: I fell in love with Banksy’s art. Which then evolved into a fascination with contemporary artwork in general. The mystery of not knowing who he was, or where he would appear next, was exciting, and certainly captured my attention.
- Drive: As a result of this desire, I wanted to know everything I possibly could about the art world. So I worked my ass off to learn everything about it. There are no fancy tricks; just hustle and more hustle. I did everything I possibly could to improve and extend my knowledge.
- As a result, the business is still going nearly five years later.
Quick Self – Q&A
So how did it all start?
Back in 2010 I sat outside a coffee shop overlooking the Bristol Museum. I was amazed to see the substantial queue for the Banksy Art Exhibition: up to a six-hour wait to go in and see the creations of the renowned Bristol graffiti artist seemed reasonable to the members of the public in the line. Amazed by the numbers waiting in line, I had to see what it was all about. In fact it turned out I went in there six times, quite sadly dragging along friends and family members to see the artist’s work. It was then and there that I realized that there was a huge demand for his work.
What was the first piece of art you ever sold?
Watching these lines get bigger and bigger every day, I thought it was just crazy. And this got me thinking that, with such a demand from the public to go and see his exhibition, there would likely be a demand for his works of art. One day, as soon as I finished drinking my coffee, I drove home and did as much research on Banksy as I could. Phoning art collectors, dealers, auction houses and browsing the Web for endless hours. A couple days later, I had purchased my first piece called Barcode, Limited edition run of 600. 2004. It cost me £1800.
What was the longest amount of time for you to sell one?
6 months. Banksy Stop and Search.
Do you know who Banksy is?
We both happen to come from the same city; Bristol. I do not think I would be as fascinated with his work if I knew who he is. I like to keep it that way.
Where have people come from to buy Banksy work?
Australia, Hong Kong, America (twelve states), Norway, Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Russia.
How many pieces have you bought and sold?
Bought 62. Sold 61. Had to keep one. Her name is Nola.
What is your favorite piece of work by him?
Love is in the air. 2006.
Were you ever scared of investing thousands of dollars into a piece of artwork?
Absolutely, I think anyone would be. However, here are three tips I would give to maybe persuade you…
1. You will never know unless you try.
2. If all else fails, you have a great story to tell from it.
3. Invest in property, wine and art. If you can never sell your house, you can live in it (as long as you can keep paying your mortgage). If you can’t sell your wine, you can drink it. If you can‘t sell your art, you can hang it from your walls. What was the worse that could happen?
How much did a Banksy cost back in the day?
You buy an unsigned Banksy for as much as a round of golf. Here is an original receipt: Happy Choppers 2003 – 44.99 GBP
Did you invest in any other artists? Or artwork?
I experimented at investing in other artists, but none really gave the same return as Banksy. So after a couple of attempts at other artists, I just focused on Banksy’s artwork as the demand was so high.
Here are a couple of others I bought.
So how does one invest/ buy Banksy art?
1. First of all, you need to know exactly what a piece of art is worth. Why? — so that you do not pay over the odds. For that, you can use a website called expressobeans.com. It informs you of the sale history. I also made a spreadsheet, and went on eBay every day and made a list of every single print that was being sold on eBay along with its price. Just by going to ebay.co.uk/.com, then clicking “highest first” (this saves time and avoids you having to scroll through all the postcards and posters).
2. Where to find his work. I always used eBay when I first started out. If I could not find any prints on ebay.co.uk/.com , I would look on Craigslist or Gumtree. Picturesonwalls.com used to print all of Banksy’s work. You used to be able to buy them straight from there. This is what an order from POW looks like. (Trolley Colour signed goes for around £9k plus!) If you are lucky, they sometimes announce some prints on there for sale as well. They have not for a very long time. Do not buy from the auction houses such as Bonhams or Christies — you will be bidding against the bigwigs who pay about three times the price you or they should be paying. Prints have now become harder and harder to find.
3. Buying the print. Here is a list of all of Banksy’s signed prints and originals. If you come across a print which you like and it is not on here, then you’re not buying the real thing! Once you have chosen which one you would like to buy, and happen to find it for sale, the next tip is to never buy on an auction listing on eBay, as they genuinely always go for more than they’re worth. You are looking for “Buy it Now” items with “Best Offer.”
4. Next step is to email them with around 30% off their current price to do a private transaction. This means arranging the transaction outside of eBay, so you are saving them on commissions fees — hence you getting it for a lower price.
5. How do you know if it is genuine? Great question! Never buy a print without something called a COA (Certificate of Authentication). This comes with every genuine print and original work of art, and is pretty much your insurance of it being genuine. This is like the family tree of the work of art. It informs you who was the original owner then all the way to the current owner. It also informs you of its edition number and if it is signed or unsigned. I have removed all of this information for security reasons, but this is what one looks like below.
5. When successfully purchasing a print, the first thing you need to do is update the owners information into your name. You do this by emailing email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org informing you are the new owner. If you buy a print without COA you need to apply for one here. (Although I would not advise doing so.) Once you have the print, put it back on eBay for around 30-40% higher than you paid for it. There is no fixed market value when it comes to investments such as art, property, and wine. They are all in limited supply, and if someone wants it badly enough then they will be willing to pay good money for it. Make your eBay listing as good as you possibly can. Then wait for the offers to come in.
6. All orders must be sent recorded, fully insured to the value of the print and to be signed for. Keep tracking numbers. Send free first class. I still send all my prints double tubed. Send COA with the print together.
7. Things to look out for when buying a Banksy.
- Edition number and water marks.
Signature; If it is a signed print, bottom right.
Condition: Not all prints will be in the perfect condition. If possible, you are looking to buy prints that have been looked after in a acid free folder. But it is rare that individuals look after prints in such a way. If it is framed be careful as prints can be sealed by amateurs resulting in something like this. The reverse of the print is just as important as the front. So ask for the condition of the front and the back.
8. Keep in contact with your customers. You can make a spread sheet of them with all their contact details. Name, address, email, and phone number. Send them a hand written thank you card with the print. I even send some of my frequent buyers Christmas cards. It is the small touches that do not cost anything that go the long way.
9. If you can’t sell it for a period of time, enjoy it!
Pulp fiction — Four weeks to sell.
Jack and Jill — Five weeks to sell.
9. The last step is the Rich Dad Poor Dad principle. Once you start making money do not go spending it like you made it. The money you make is all put into the next piece of artwork. Let your money work for you.
And that is it. That is exactly how I first started my muse business with Banksy. Five years later it is still going. Things have changed significantly since then, and I may do another post on how it has evolved. Starting out is the hardest part. It is overwhelming as everything is new. Keep it simple and stay hungry.
If looking to buy a Banksy piece, you can visit BanksyArtwork.com where I put the latest pieces avaible
Six Books that helped me and my muse business significantly.
- Getting Past No
- Straight Line Sales System by Jordan Belfort ( Extremely powerful)
- 22 Immutable laws of Marketing Al Ried & Jack Trout
- 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.
- Ready Fire Aim by Michael Masterson
- The One Thing Garry Keller.
For more inspirational books – visit my library here
For the list of some of the works I have collected over the years by Banksy – Check them out here!
Did you find this insightful? Have you started something recently?
I would love to know about how you started out, and what helped you the most early on.
- What hurdles did you have to overcome?
- What was the tipping point to your business succeeding or perhaps failing?
(please feel free submit a link to your product, website or service.)
“A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of those who have gone before him.”