Webby Awards Honor Banksy as Person of the Year

Banksy, Ghetto 4 Life (2013), 465 East 153rd Street, the Bronx, New York. Photo: via the artist's Instagram.

British graffiti maestro Banksy has been named the Webby Awards’ Person of the Year for “Better Out Than In,” his guerrilla-style New York City “residency,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

The award is fitting given what an important role the Internet plays in the dissemination of Banksy’s work, particularly in the case of the New York project. Because his art is created without permission, in public places, it is often quickly stolen, vandalized, or simply painted over by unappreciative landlords.

Even the work that remains in situ is scattered all over, making it difficult for interested art lovers to see it in person. Instead, much of Banky’s audience experiences his artwork online, through images posted on the artist’s website, or on social media.

For the month of October 2013, Banksy’s New York residency turned heads all over the city. Over 350,000 people followed the artist’s Instagram account, checking each day to find a newly unveiled piece somewhere within the five boroughs.

People who went to see the paintings in person often checked in on Foursquare or posted their own photos and videos of the works on social media platforms such as Tumblr, Vine, YouTube, and Twitter.

Banksy has been invited to receive the honor in person at an award ceremony in New York on Monday, but it seems unlikely that the anonymous street artist will reveal his identity through a public appearance.

The Webbys, established in 1996 by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, are considered the Internet’s highest honor, recognizing the best in websites, online film and video, interactive advertising, interactive media, and mobile and social media. Banksy was selected as the winner from nearly 12,000 entries hailing from all 50 states and over 60 countries.

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