It's hard to imagine that a simple, stenciled picture on a wall could inspire so much praise and criticism. There are views in both of the extremes ranging from embracing the art as part of the city it is located in to writing the images off as nothing other than illegal tagging, but one thing is for sure: artists like Blek le Rat and Banksy have managed to make huge names for themselves and stencil graffiti as an art form around the world.
Stencil graffiti is similar to standard graffiti you might see decorating a city, but it uses stencils created by the artist to make the picture much easier and quicker to apply. In addition, the use of stencils leaves a distinct style specific to this type of art and even though it leaves crisp, often single color, images, the artists still seem to leave their own special touch with each one.
As the art of tagging is still illegal (depending on where and who you ask), some of these artists have moved from painting their visions on public spaces for all to see to the inside of gallery space like more traditional artists. This might not have the same far reaching, rebellious effect as standard graffiti but it has managed to become extremely popular around the world with pieces created by Banksy being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Although Blek le Rat and many before him might have been the first to use stencil graffiti as art, it has continued to develop and evolve for many years. Despite the huge growth of the art, it can still be traced back to the ideas of each artist, probably sketched in his or her graffiti blackbook. Everyone might not be able to appreciate it, but it is clear that graffiti has had a lasting impact on the art world and continues to produce some of the most interesting art in recent times.