I love a suited-up billionaire as much as the next gal. But for my first New Adult novel, RUIN ME, I was inspired by the idea of a different type of hero. And he’s based on some real life men (and women) who are doing thrilling things every night in the streets of cities around the world: street artists.
About a year ago, I watched a documentary called Exit Through the Gift Shop about a mysterious British artist named Banksy. He became famous by painting the sides of buildings under the cover of night, producing beautiful art that was meant to provoke and inspire. He ultimately went on to create sculpture installations, and sneaking his artwork onto the walls of major museums. Most of what he did was illegal, but his artwork has become so valuable that building owners no longer complain when their property is “vandalized” by Banksy. But he is just one man in a long, thrilling tradition of street art. And it’s a tradition that inspired the hero of my latest novel, a reclusive street artist who goes by the name GoST.
Below, my top three reasons why street artists make the perfect hero:
1. Creativity – street artists have talent. They can paint, they can draw, and they can produce their work under adverse conditions – darkness, the risk of arrest, or the risk of falling off of high places. They also have something to say. Most street art is provoking thought about something political, environmental, or both. It was the street artist Shepard Fairey who created the iconic Hope poster during the 2008 presidential election.
2. Daring – As mentioned above, street artists put themselves at risk to produce their art. They break the law and get arrested and fined. In some cases, they risk their lives: A prominent artist called King Robbo (who had a public feud with Banksy) fell (presumably while painting) and is in a coma to this day. In 1990, graffiti artist Sane – a forefather to today’s street artists – was found dead in the waters of Flushing Bay, New York.
3. Autonomy – Street artists subvert the whole gallery/auction/big money system. It’s the self-publishing of the art world. And that in itself makes these guys (and in some cases, gals) my heroes.
For more about the world of street art, I recommend watching Exit Through the Gift Shop or reading The History of American Graffiti. And for a love story in which a street artist turns a Manhattan art gallerista’s world upside down, try RUIN ME.
What worlds do you think would produce a great romance hero? Let us know!
RUIN ME by Jamie Brenner/St. Martin’s Press/May 6