‘Banksy saved my life’: Talented street artist gives up drugs and alcohol to create tee-totally amazing Banksy inspired masterpeices
A recovering addict has swapped substances for spray-paint to create tee-totally amazing BANKSY inspired street art.
When Jamie Scanlon, from Weston-Super-Mare, Bristol, started dabbling with drugs and alcohol as a teenager, his life spiralled out of control, leading him to contemplate suicide after he became crippled by debts and addiction.
But after drawing inspiration from the works of subversive street artist Banksy, Jamie, otherwise known as JPS, vowed to follow in his hero’s footsteps and kick his bad habits for good.
Jamie, now 37, said: “At the height of my addiction, I was in a really bad place.
“But because I’d always had an interest in art, I managed to pull myself together to go to one of Banksy’s exhibitions in Bristol.
“Even though I was drunk, I was completely blown away by it.
“I had done basic stencilling at school so I was really inspired how he was able to create full size characters so rapidly on the street.
“I really felt his buzz, so from that point onwards, the seed was planted to turn my life around and really make something of myself.”
At 19, Jamie, who achieved an A grade in GCSE art at school, was forced to drop out of college and look for a job as his family were struggling financially.
After finding a job as a shoe repairer, Jamie’s life took a turn for the worst, regularly spending his wages on expensive drug binges as a way to cope with the unexpected death of his dad and two close friends.
Totally crippled by his addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine, Jamie even resorted to theft and begging to scrape enough money together to fuel his addictions.
At his lowest, Jamie, who at one point owed £2,000 in debt to drug dealers, even contemplated suicide after losing his job in 2009, leaving him homeless and totally strapped for cash.
But after a life-changing visit to a Banksy exhibition in Bristol in 2009, Jamie was inspired to turn his life around.
He said: “As a last resort, I turned to my mum for help who clearly hated having to see her son so messed up by drugs.
“I promised her I’d get immediate help and thankfully she listened.
“From that point on, I began self-teaching myself stencilling and attending addiction recovery sessions two hours a day five days a week.
“I’d occasionally go out at night painting small pieces around Weston-Super-Mare which I found to be a real buzz – just as I imagined it to be at the Banksy exhibition.
“It really helped me to get it out of my system and overcome the mess I’d got myself into.
“My evolution from there was rapid and by 2010 I was invited to be in a big exhibition in London organised by the artist Mason Storm.
“I felt as if I was gathering a following from the beginning and any money I made from sales of my work was put straight back into equipment in order to increase the scale of my work.”
Jamie, with the help of an assistant, creates stencils to blueprint his street art, imprinting the design on walls in public places with specialised paint brushes, pens and spray cans.
Jamie says the themes of his street art, which depict Batman, Dangermouse and Pennywise the clown, are heavily influenced by popular culture, namely fictional heroes and villains which resonated with him as a child.
The body of Jamie’s work can be seen at various locations around Bristol, but his mission to mimic the imitable style of Banksy has taken him as far afield as Utsira, Norway, and Barcelona, Spain, where his street art can also be viewed in public.
He said: “I have deliberately done works thought to be Banksys in order to fool national media multiple times, whilst my own name continued to trickle through the underground.
“It’s strange, because I feel I was quite cocky towards Banksy at the beginning, the mimicry was all very tongue in cheek.
“But after a while I realised that it’s thanks to him I changed my life, and theoretically, saved my life.”