Over the last 15 years, 2014 Stencil Art Prize finalist,  Bryce Chisholm, has become a well-practiced hand when it comes to experimental art. Inspired by street art and graffiti, Chisholm has sought to create art that is both poignant as well as awe inspiring.

Hailing from Reno, Nevada in the USA, Chisholm has endeavoured to create artworks that meld real human emotions with the raw street feeling of his canvas to create a truly unique art piece. He is an experienced artist having dabbled in many mediums from oil to spray paint, and each of his often vibrant and eye-popping pieces feature layers of these different mediums.

Chisholm strives to never be complacent as he pushes the boundaries of art whether it will be through his intricate methods or simply the curious places he deems his canvases. In his more recent artistic endeavours, the surrounding environments of his artworks are as part of the art as the piece itself, creating a genuinely organic artwork that cannot be replicated anywhere.

In any city riddled with plain streets or alleyways, he sees an empty canvas and an opportunity to create something new. So it is unsurprising that he is currently inundated with city projects aimed at beautifying the city of Reno.

Bryce Chisholm’s multilayered artworks demand attention through their striking visuals, or through its often-poignant subject matter, that will leave the viewer coming away with a new appreciation for an art form that until recently has never been considered a true art form. To gain an insight into Bryce Chisholm’s fantastic world, we interviewed him.

How did you get into making stencil art?
It was during my college years and I was doing a lot of oil painting, but I wasn’t using the oils like most people do. I was making these high contrast paintings that were very similar to stencils. And one day while working at a restaurant all the menus came in wrong, so I took the menus home. I just saw it as something I could use, and eventually I did. These laminated menus became my first cutting material I would use. I didn’t really know anyone that made stencils, but I just began cutting.

How would you describe your style of art?
My style of art is a clash of fine art and street. Most of my paintings incorporate stencils, freehand spray paint and acrylic brush work. I work backwards from a lot of people and maybe that helps set my work apart. I see a stencil as tool to get my desired effect and definitely not the only tool I use. I like bright colors and high contrast. I don’t use Photoshop or other computer programs and I’m not trying to make a photo realistic painting. My paintings have a high graphic style with street graffiti and beauty finding harmony.

Where does your creative inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my every day life. Beauty I see in my family, graffiti in a seedy alley, the homeless man asking for change, old school propaganda and the hope in humanity. My subjects are diverse, but I do paint a lot of women with hope in their eyes, children with innocence and cultural elements I admire.

Describe your stencil making process – how does an idea move from an idea to a finished artwork?
My process starts with an idea and finding an image I can help promote that idea. I am always painting on canvases, adding many layers, some stencil, some acrylic, some spray paint tags. So I like to have a few canvases ready to go, I don’t necessarily know what;s going on them, but I do have ideas. I don’t use Photoshop, so I move straight into cutting the stencil. It seems I work backwards from a lot of people, so I cut my dark layers first, spray it onto another sheet and then shade it with a crayon, moving to the light. I like to keep it to just a few layers to get my desired effect. I then spray it to the canvas. And then work a few more layers of hand painting and additional stencils until I like it.

What is the hardest part and best part about being an artist?
The hardest part about being an artist is a steady income. When it rains it pours, and then there is a drought.

If you could impart some wisdom to young stencil artists what would you say?
My advice would be to find your own voice. Don’t try to do what someone else is doing. You can like what someone else is doing and maybe take elements and try it, but also try to make it your own, make it different.And as a stencil artist, try not to rely on a computer program to control your cuts. Let the lights and shadows show you where to cut. Then take it a step further and add interest and intrigue. Try it. If it doesn’t work, try it again.

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