Steve Lazarides: Meet the ‘accidental’ art dealer who made Banksy

Story highlights

"Accidental" art dealer Steve Lazarides has worked with some of the biggest names in street art

Though they parted ways in 2009, he is often credited with launching Banksy's career

Lazarides Gallery's latest exhibition Still Here, A Decade Of Lazarides is open now

CNN  — 

Over the last decade, London-based Bristol-born art dealer Steve Lazarides has worked with some of the biggest names in international street art.

Steve Lazarides by Lars Fassinger

This month, the 47-year-old has launched a landmark exhibition, celebrating ten years of his Lazarides Gallery. It will take up three floors of the Lazarides Rathbone venue and feature over 30 artists, including British trailblazer Banksy, portraitist Jonathan Yeo, and French social art provocateur JR.

These artists have been key to Lazarides’ artistic career, as he has championed underground art, blurring the boundaries between the gallery and the street. Each artist has created work that references major issues of their times while working with Lazarides.

The exhibition showcases new pieces from the artists, alongside a selection of old favorites.

An ‘accidental art dealer’

“Everything in this show demonstrates progression,” explained Lazarides, “from when the artist started 10 years ago to where they are now.”

The photographer JR, for example, has worked with Lazarides for nearly a decade.

“Most people know who he is now, but I’ve worked with this guy since he was 24-years-old. We gave him his first show, then at 31 he had Robert De Niro starring in a short movie for him.”

Steve Lazarides describes himself as an “accidental art dealer”. He had numerous jobs in professions such as a builder, painter and decorator, set builder and picture editor, before he began photographing renowned street artist, and fellow Bristolian, Banksy.

The man behind Banksy

Noticing something relatively untouched at the time, Lazarides became Banksy’s art dealer and is often credited with having launched his career.

“No one else was showing this kind of work and no one was giving people like this an opportunity. And now there’s a million of them worldwide, showing terrible art”, he said.

He believes there was a “grudging respect” between them but admits, “we were never particularly good friends.”

The two parted ways in 2009 but Lazarides continues to use and promote Banksy’s work in various exhibitions.

He recently launched an exhibition at Global Karaköy in Istanbul entitled “The Art of Banksy” but, he says, Banksy was not involved in the project.

“Absolutely not. Not