Blek le Rat Artist born Xavier Prou, 1952) is a French graffiti artist. He was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and has been described as the “Father of stencil graffiti”. Blek began his artwork in 1981, painting stencils of rats on the walls of Paris streets.

He described the rat as “the only free animal in the city”, and one which “spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art”. His name originates from the comic book Blek le Roc, using “rat” as an anagram for “art”.

Banksy – British graffiti artist Banksy has acknowledged Blek’s influence stating “every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier.”The two have expressed mutual desire for collaboration; in 2011. Blek was seen adding to a mural begun the previous year by Banksy in the Mission District, San Francisco.