French street artist Blek Le Rat is known as the father of stencil graffiti, a name he has earned through years of spray painting unforgettable figures on walls across the globe. In the early ’80s, Blek became one of the first street artists in Paris, known for his iconic rat stencil. His stencil technique has since been adopted by some of the biggest names in graffiti and street art today, including Brooklyn-based brothers Icy and Sot as well as Banksy. In fact, Banksy once said, “Every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek le Rat has done it as well, only 20 years earlier.”
In the video interview conducted by Complex Magazine, Blek names Banksy as one of the contemporary artists he admires along with Shepard Fairey and Swoon. He also talks about what drives him to paint the streets at night, the origin of his graffiti name, and the hardships artists working in his medium face. Follow Blek through the subways and street corners of New York in the video above.