It’s a true honour to be granted an interview with this certain, ever mysterious Manchester artist. An artist of great repute in the city. But now his art is breaking out of those northern streets… And if you know where to look, you can own a genuine piece of his legendary art yourself! ForgottenBeeBlog talks to……. Mancsy.
FB 1/ Mancsy, welcome to ForgottenBeeBlog. Let’s start with an arm wrestle….who’s going to win you or Banksy?
Banksy, as he’s been working out carrying all his dosh about!
FB 2/ Ok, let’s talk ‘ART’. What inspired you to create outstanding and collectible pieces of art and leave them in various locations around Manchester for people to find and keep?
I am a proud Mancunian. I’ve always walked about the city, back in the day with my SLR, recording beauty in the backstreets and where most people don’t look. I wanted to share these darker places with people and get them to look about.
I’d been sat in Stevenson Square watching life pass by thinking about Manchester and our visual image. The bee, the FAC51 (http://www.fac51thehacienda.com/) stripes down the back of Dry Bar (drybar.co.uk) and the over zealous traffic wardens patrolling between the double yellow lines. In my sketchbook they all came together as an early version of my bee tag. The play on brother Banksy’s name came about as the idea matured and I started to think about making temporary street art using my back streets like a gallery.
FB 3/ How did you generate interest in your work initially and the ‘finders keepers’ idea?
To be honest I just made a set of prints and went out with some pins and put them up. I created a Facebook account (https://www.facebook.com/mancsymanchester?fref=ts) and discovered a few people found them. It spurred me on as I made a second edition to coincide with valentines day as a play on the I heart Manchester design. I set up a simple portfolio website but at that stage hadn’t thought to put my web address (http://www.mancsy.co.uk/) on the posters. I relied on folk googling me.
FB 4/ You’re renowned for your prints…but…did you know Mancsy is an anagram for MyScan? 😉 (a little Bee observation)
No, I’d missed that one. I’m a man of pictures not words. Like many artists I’m dyslexic.
FB 5/ Mancsy, you are indeed a man of mystery.. was it always your intention to be elusive? And what benefits or negatives does your anonymity give?
It just happened as I played on the Banksy model when I started out but it soon became apparent people liked the mysterious element.
The funniest experience is when I had my Kosmonaut exhibition. A mate acted as a go between and so I kept my identity under wraps. At the private view I couldn’t even get a free drink! I stood at the bar for an hour listening to conversations about ‘who mancsy could be’. People were looking round the room guessing, I even joined in. I heard two people claim to be Mancsy. It was funny as some of the people I know from Facebook and Twitter and found it hard not to let onto them!
FB 6/ You recently set up your online shop, (http://www.mancsy.co.uk/) of which I have been a customer, you appear to be moving up a gear with the accessibility of your work now available to a wider fan base. How is the new online shop going?
It’s going well. It’s a funny thing that despite a loyal fan base I genuinely didn’t know if my followers would stick their hands in their pockets or if they just played along to get something for nothing. I’m blown away by their support and the fact people are contacting me to see if I’ve more stock.
I‘m still giving work away each month. The premiss of the shop was to fund the giveaways. It’s cost me a fair few quid to do what I’ve done but now my alter-ego has started earning his keep.
FB 7/ Your exhibitions are keenly attended with a strong group of Manchester collectors regularly gathering to swap pieces. When were you first aware that your art was getting a serious fan base?
Right at the start I got a fan, my superfan. Her mate contacted me asking if I’d keep a print back if she missed finding one as a birthday gift. I went one further and posted a print near her workplace and tagged her in a Facebook message.
It was the night of the Kosmonaut private view that it dawned on me there were quite a few collectors who enjoyed my work and the game.
FB 8/ Right “Mancsy”, I’m going to have to ask… Which artist inspires you the most?
As Mancsy I don’t really refer to other artists other than Banksy and his Godfather Blek Le Rat @bleklerat I’ve always enjoyed Art and visited gallery’s since I was a lad. I used to love going to the Whitworth (whitworth.manchester.ac.uk) and the City Art Gallery (manchestergalleries.org) and still do.
FB 9/ If you could have a moment now with any of your previous Art teachers, what would you say to them?
You were right, it’s always best to have a sharp pencil.
I am in touch with one if them, although he doesn’t know I’m Mancsy. He’d probably just laugh and tell me I need to get out more.
FB 10/ We share a Bee symbol that features at the core of our work, any chance of a ‘Mancsy’ ForgottenBee piece sometime? *flutters wings*
You never know. I keep a list of ideas and they either happen as I get a visual solution to them or the timing is right. I’ve a few half finished ideas in my sketchbook and that I’m mucking about with in Photoshop.
FB 11/ You’ve recently produced work in support of “Foster for Manchester” (https://www.facebook.com/FosterForManchester) with your “Meet little Bee” art. How did you get involved with this campaign?
One of the team approached me to see if I’d get involved. Little Bee came about as I upped the stakes with their graphic and created a character we could identify with. They are using her graphic as The Daughter of Manchester and it’s going well. I support their good work and so really wanted to help.
FB 12/ How do you think that your Art will develop over time?
I think all artists do develop and their work travels with them. My bee graphic has been modified already and my text is about to change as well. As people ask me to get involved in non Manchester projects I’m doing things that I wouldn’t have envisaged a few years ago. It’s all part of some sort of development I guess.
FB 13/ Have you ever almost been caught posting one of your monthly giveaways and if so what did you do?
I no longer post them but in the first year often chatted to folk. That’s all I’m saying ;).
FB 14/ Let’s suppose the City of Manchester gave you free reign to create a piece of your work on any building, where would you do it? And what would it be?
I’d like to tackle that concrete wall in Piccadilly Gardens. I don’t know what I would do but reckon a collaboration and maybe get some kids involved so they understand the different between street art and graffiti .
FB 15/ Let’s talk a little about the private Mancsy if I may…
What are your pastimes, interests and hobbies when you’re not creating Art?
I’m a one trick pony. I tend to do art projects and help out in the community.
FB 16/ You recently auctioned your Twiggy art on e-bay (sadly I was outbid) do you plan to release other rarities for auction?
Yes, I’ve dug out a few so watch this space. I was just going to sell the Twiggy but had had over 40 requests for one and a fan on Twitter suggested I went down the auction route.
FB 17/ You appear to have a connection with music lovers as well as art lovers. Have any bands or artists approached you to create art for their music, albums, EP’s, books etc and would you do it if asked.
I get asked all the time but I’ve got to have a genuine connection to what they do to make a visual image. Music is so subjective. So far I’ve not done one that I’ve been prepared to release. Watch this space.
FB 18/ Your recent work was quite a shock as the Mancsy brand moved into edible art. Tell me about your collaboration with The Printworks (theprintworks.com/the_place/) and The Hard Rock cafe Manchester (hardrock.com/manchester) and what you’re doing with my honey 😉 ?
They approached me and instantly I could see the hive with the bee on it. Seemed a great project to be involved in. After all a collaboration with some local bees seemed perfect. I support charity, namely The Christie (christies.org) and often donate work to causes I value or to help out people where I can. This project was non profit to raise funds for two local homeless charities. It was a pleasure to collaborate, work with the Hard Rock Cafe and Printworks and raise money for Forever Manchester (forevermanchester.com) and the Booth Centre (boothcentre.org.uk).
FB 19/ Many thanks Mancsy for taking time to ‘bee’ interviewed by ForgottenBeeBlog, my final question…. When and where shall you place your next ‘finders keepers’ piece? 😉 ? P.s. if you ever need to increase honey production I will have a word with the hive 🙂 #Fbee x
Mmmm, well I’ll let you in on some November inside info… There’s a special one out very soon to commemorate WWI. I’m working on a design for the Whisky Sessions (thewhiskysessions.com) events and a special beer mat will be in a local bar very soon…
Blog post dedicated to all those who gave their lives World War 1 centenary
All photographs and images courtesy of Mancsy