British artist Banksy has opened an online store, with the stab-proof vest worn by grime superstar Stormzy at Glastonbury among the items for sale. “Gross Domestic Product” is described as “the homewares brand from Banksy,” while the website’s footer reads “…where art irritates life.”
Stormzy’s vest, spray-painted with a Union Jack, is listed for sale at £850. The description reads, “As worn by Stormzy at Glastonbury festival (because it’s very dangerous there).”
Many of the items on sale were displayed in a temporary installation which opened in Croydon, South London, earlier this month, including the “Met ball,” a “home entertainment lighting system” made from a police riot helmet and decorated to look like a disco ball, a baby mobile comprising a series of CCTV cameras, and a 55-inch high definition TV with an image of a child painted on the screen.
A “Banksy Welcome Mat,” priced at £500, is “hand stitched using the fabric from life vests abandoned on the beaches of the Mediterranean,” the website says. The product is produced in collaboration with the organization Love Welcomes, which works with refugee women to produce mats from “life vests and blankets worn by frightened, exhausted Syrians as they wash up on European shores” and directs proceeds back to the refugee weavers.
Prospective Gross Domestic Product buyers must register online for the chance to buy one item, and are asked to answer the question, “Why does art matter?” A stand-up comedian will “examine the tie-breaker questions and select those applications which the judge finds to be the most apt and original,” the website says.
The site’s welcome message reads, “The artist has price-fixed the first consignment of releases at a reduced rate for lower income patrons,” and dissuades “wealthy art collectors” from registering to buy an item.
The site also warns customers that they may have a “disappointing retail experience,” explaining, “Everything is produced by a handful of people using recycled material wherever possible in a workplace culture of daytime drinking. So there isn’t loads of it and it’s not all ready to ship straight away.”
A flyer at the Gross Domestic Product installation in Croydon said that the store was established “as a result of legal action,” adding, “A greeting cards company are trying to seize legal custody of the name Banksy from the artist, who has been advised the best way to prevent this is to sell his own range of branded merchandise.”
A statement on the newly opened site reads, “The artist would like to make it clear that he continues to encourage the copying, borrowing and uncredited use of his imagery for amusement, activism and education purposes. Feel free to make merch for your own personal entertainment and non-profit activism for good causes.”
“However, selling reproductions, creating your own line of merchandise and fraudulently misrepresenting knock off Banksy products as ‘official’ is illegal, obviously a bit wrong and may result in legal action,” the statement continues.