It was around 2005/2006 we started to notice the BNE stickers all around town. As soon as we started noticing we saw them everywhere we came, in every city we went. Where did they came from, why are they placed everywhere and most of all, who put them there? Back then a google search didn’t return a neat wikipedia page or any other answer. Just others with the same questions (like the mayor of San Francisco). Over the years we understood that BNE is a respected graffiti artist, responsible for one of the biggest pieces in Amsterdam.
Anyway, the momentum that BNE build up with his gigantic sticker / graffiti campaign was enormous. According to BNE himself, plenty of brands wanted to give a commercial value to his campaign. Seeing the reach it had across the internet, already in 2006, that didn’t surprise me. But unlike other street art / graffiti campaigners like Shepard Fairy, he didn’t decide to give a commercial value to the BNE brand, but a social one.
New stickers emerged with the text BNEWater.org, and of course there is a corresponding website. The website explains that BNE had a sort of epiphany in Indonesia which made him want to use his powers for good. In a blogpost he states:
“I was painting my name on a wall with a can of silver paint when an older woman with only one tooth who spoke decent English came up to me and asked what I was doing. I could see years of hard times in her eyes. I told her that I was painting my name and she said that “it must be nice to be able to just spray money into the air” and went on to say that if she had paint she could make the old fence in front of her shack look brand new.“
After putting a lot of thought in his project he decided that providing clean water in the places that need them would make the most impact, and BNE water was born. BNE Water is now an official foundation and there are plenty of plans in progress to raise money. One of the main fundraisers will be an auction of art donated by different big artists. If BNE has some friends like Banksy, now is the perfect time to do this!
In conclusion, I’m very happy to see that the originator of such a widespread and valueble graffiti campagin decided to use his powers for something good! That’s why we support BNE for the full 100%. Although we’d still like to know what BNE stands for ;).