The graffiti art by Banksy is well-known in Bristol (and now the world) although he, as an identifiable person, is not. He prefers to keep his identity under wraps and shys away from publicity.
However, over the passage of time more details about his true identity have come to light.
His true name is believed to be Robert Banks born in Yate near Bristol in 1974. The son of a photocopier engineer, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s.
His artworks are often satirical pieces of art which encompass topics from politics, culture, and ethics. His street art, which combines graffiti with a distinctive stencilling technique, has appeared in London and in cities around the world including New York and Los Angeles.
Banksy began his career as underground graffiti artist in Bristol, England circa 1989 and his first solo exhibition was held at the London gallery Cargo in 2001; his first U.S. exhibition was in Los Angeles in 2006.
The artist is believed to have admitted to experiencing difficulties in school during his youth and drifting toward a life of petty crime after he was expelled, and said that he had spent some time in jail. At some point he left Bristol for London.
Hollywood couple BRAD PITT and ANGELINA JOLIE splashed out $2 million (£1 million) on artworks by Bristol artist BANKSY at an exhibition in London on 11th October 2007.
Banksy first tried his hand at urban street art when he was 14 years old. He soon realized that he was simply not quick enough with the spray-paint can to create the exuberant, multicolored works on the sides of buildings, road bridges and underpasses, or urban walls.
The more time an image took him to make, the higher the chances of his being picked up for vandalism by the police. To speed up the process, he began to cut out stencils at home of images or phrases he wanted to paint. Some of these were comic depictions of metropolitan London police officers in their distinctive uniforms but engaged in unlikely activities, or of rats, monkeys, or storybook style children hugging missiles.
Sometimes he just put up an official looking sign with such words - "By Order of the National Highways Agency This Wall Is A Designated Graffiti Area."
By the turn of 2000 Banksy's peculiar but comical figures had become something of a cult phenomenon in London, with his fans always on the lookout for new work. Many in the city's younger vanguard of artists centered in the East End came to know him, and were appreciative of his work's artistic merit.
One of the first conventional exhibitions of his art was held in a warehouse in 2000, but in his characteristically unconventional fashion Banksy gave out only the street number for the building and not the street.
As mainstream interest in his work began to grow, he concocted elaborate deceptions to shroud his identity, usually carrying out interviews via telephone and using trusted friends to handle sales of his work.