Throughout our daily lives we are confronted with the question of anonymity. Be it from performing a selfless act and deciding wether or not to take credit for it; to probably the most widespread topic today surrounding anonymity, a persons right and ability to online anonymity. A persons ability to be anonymous is amplified in the world of street art, where historically anonymity has played a substantial role in artists personas.
Their ability to remain anonymous only added to their reputation, in some cases propelling them further. The mask that artists put on, to conceal their true identities and take on those of their more outspoken selves, allowed them to create critical pieces of society and predominant culture, in their respective time periods and physical locations. As the mask is removed, and their true identities revealed, they become exposed to the social pressures to cave in to the norm.
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a
mask, and he will tell you the truth." ~ Oscar Wilde
As street art continues to experience growing acceptance and recognition, both in the public eye and in the art world, it has become more financially viable to choose it as a full time profession, using new technology previously untapped at this scale for marketing, branding, production... To become more affluent and prestigious in the general public, there is a strong push for attention to be focused less as an artist and more as an individual. Otherwise put, it’s easier to grow a large following be being more personal with your audience, social media being a key component. However, as the spotlight switches focuses, there becomes more personal and direct risk of social backlash for there is no longer the mask to hide behind. It’s much easier to be incognito to dodge the continuously morphing beast, being social standards; and the shoot first, ask questions later, cancel culture. These pressures can obviously cause an artist, opening themselves up as a person, to question wether or not to produce critical pieces of society, for mass criticism.
How can you blame an artist for creating pieces to please the masses and finally be financially compensated. Wanting to achieve financial stability and entertaining the possibility of settling down comfortably. In the end does their work not still make people happy, elevate the level of culture made readily-available in a neighbourhood, and provide a form of art to the masses indiscriminately. Why shouldn’t they be receiving a piece of pie fresh out the oven, and growing exponentially bigger, only possible by the increased attention we, the masse, are providing it. For a reason.
Whichever direction the artist chooses to go in, that is their choice, and should be respected. Wether they decide to keep their anonymity or not. However they make it work, they should be admired for furthering the recognition and reputation of street art.