MADE IN MANCHESTER: An Interview With Mystery Artist Mancsy

Mancsy’s art reads as a love letter to the city of Manchester and its people. Every screen print and mosaic celebrates the industrial roots of the city, and the contemporary creativity that makes it such a unique and exciting place to live.

The brand new Mancsy Visits Victoria Warehouse exhibition will run from Thurs 23 April to Sun 10 May, and features twelve new designs, plus well-loved favourites from Mancsy’s online catalogue.
I chatted to Mancsy to find out more.

Harriet Williamson: Let’s start with the big questions! What inspired you to become Mancsy?

Mancsy: It was an idea I had while hanging about Stevenson Square one day, thinking about the hazard stripes on the back of Dry Bar, looking at the double yellow lines crumbling on the road and thinking about Manchester. I’d been looking at the coat of arms around this time, so the bee graphic emerged. I thought about spray painting it as a tag but felt that it was meaningless. I decided to make a set of limited edition screen prints and give them away using the streets as a gallery. I started in January 2012. My concept was really to get folk to look about them and see the beauty in the streets of our great city.


H: Talk me through some of the symbolism in your screen prints…

M: The bee is the symbol of the people of Manchester, Greater Manchester as well. The bee comes from the coat of arms representing the hive of industry in the industrial revolution. My bee has a hazard stripe referring to our cultural development. Today I believe we are a capital of creativity. Manchester has a history of firsts and it stands to reason that creative people make things happen. In other pieces my ideas emerge. Sometimes I’m just making something for me. In my second year of prints I supported a cause, unbeknown to the organisers, like The Feral Pigeon Project or Dogs in Salford Facebook page. It went down well.


H: Has every piece of art you’ve left in public been found and appreciated?

M: In the early days I made 20-25. I always keep number 1 of each edition. Some got rained on. One recently got tore up by a teenager in Ancoats who was gutted when someone told him he could have sold it for £25!

H: The prices on your website are really, really reasonable. Is this deliberate? Are you trying to make your art accessible rather than charging top dollar for it?

M: Until September 2014, other than ones sold in the Kosmonaut exhibition, I’d given all my work away on the streets or posted prints out to people. It was getting to a point where I could no longer afford to keep Mancsy going. Mrs Mancsy calculated I’d given away £28,000 worth of art at my website prices. I felt that was a good thing.

It was crunch point, so I had to do something. I set up the online shop and revamped my website so people could check what they had. It was a success. In effect, the site’s there not to make me rich but to sustain the street giveaways. Each month a new design can be found, if you don’t find one you can now buy one.

H: In your opinion, what makes Manchester a unique city?

M: The people are brilliant, they shape a place. I love the city’s atmosphere, its architecture, its reinvention. It’s my home.

H: Do you have a team helping you or is Mancsy a lone wolf?

M: I was a loner with a big ball of blu tack, now I’ve a small team. I trust them explicitly, plus they all signed a non-disclosure agreement!

H: Any exciting plans for 2015 that aren’t top secret?

M: I’ve an upcoming exhibition with Manchester Mosaics, she’s turning some of my most popular designs into A1 mosaics. I’m always exploring new ideas.
Made in Manchester