Gibrian Foltz, 2014 Stencil Art Prize Finalist, breathes new life into old and unused books by repurposing pictures and texts as inspiration and characters for his pieces. The end result of this process is a series of eccentric and slightly unhinged collages and images that will leave the viewer feeling intrigued but unsettled. We recently caught up with Gibrian Foltz and interviewed him.  Here’s what he had to say:

How did you get into making stencil art? 

I began as a collage artist, attempting to blend images together to create new, at times unsettling, scenes and abstractions. I took an interest in street art from those around me, and realized that my time using an exacto might make learning to stencil a smooth transition. I started teaching myself the basics of stencil, and then transitioned into turning my collages into multi-layer stencils themselves.

How would you describe your style of art? 

I attempt to produce combinations of images, which create new ideas and forms, finding the line between familiarity and tension. I spend a lot of time searching old books for source material, which tends to give my pieces an antiquated or vintage look. I’m attempting to create collages that blend together seamlessly, and the process of converting them to stencils furthers the cohesiveness of the image. Words to describe my style might be “dense, detail oriented, unsettling, dreamlike”.

Where does your creative inspiration come from? 

Taking thoughts and images out of context, the feeling of confusion and perpetual change, being accepting of tension, dreams and dream-like states. I look at a lot of old books, plenty of artists new and old, and listen to all sorts of music.

Describe your stencil making process – how does an idea move from an idea to a finished artwork? 

I may have an idea of an image I want to create through collage, or I may skim through books to find an intriguing starting point. I build the image until I feel that it is finished. At times I limit myself to three components (many of the stencilled abstractions were completed this way). Once the image seems to be finished I switch over to stencil-mode and convert it.

What sort of techniques do you use to create a stencil? 

I blow the image up onto the wall and determine how many layers I want to make the stencil (lately it’s been 4 layers). I study the image for some time to work out the layers in my mind. I hand draw each layer onto poster board in as few sittings as possible (so as not to risk moving the image). When I started learning the process, I’d use software to separate layers – but I never do this anymore and only utilized it as an initial guide. I feel that part of the artistic process is creating the layers yourself.

I then spray-paint the stencil onto anything from canvas, wood, found objects, old windows and glass, etc.

What are your goals and ambitions? 

To push both practices of stencil and collage as far as I can, and continue to develop the unique style of combining both of these mediums. I’ve started working larger now, and am interested in painting murals. I’d love to keep showing in different cities.

What is the hardest part and best part about being an artist? ​

The hardest part for me, initially, was confidence to show my work to others and present it in a formal setting.

The best part (other than just enjoying unstructured creative freedom) is finishing a piece and honestly thinking it’s the best one you’ve made to date. The feeling of improvement and growth is rewarding!

Where do you see yourself in five year’s time? 

Working larger, showing in more cities, bringing in more techniques to my practice such as traditional painting… there’s no end of what can be explored and learned!

If you could impart some wisdom to young stencil artists what would you say? 

Don’t be afraid to learn to draw your layers. You’re going to make mistakes, but it’s certain that improvement comes with time. Spend time thinking about your source image rather than just the process of converting something to a stencil. Practicing painting technique will remove underspray and overspray almost entirely without any spray adhesives. Learn to think in layers. Stencilling is a bit like printmaking… build the image up!

Gibrian Foltz website.

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