So how do you make a stencil?

It’s a question we’re asked frequently here at the Stencil Art Prize. There are many different ways to make a stencil artwork. Cutanddrestroy, 2013 Stencil Art Prize Finalist, shares his insights on how to make a stencil.

Stencil artist Cutanddestroy talks about how to make a stencil

My stenciling career began about nine years ago. I was stumbling around the internet late one night and happened to find an article about Banksy, which led to me to an article about Logan Hicks, and that was all it took. That night I cut my first stencil (of John Ritter, for some reason) out of corrugated cardboard with a box cutter. I continued stenciling, improving little by little, but generally regulating it to a hobby. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I really started to take my work seriously and to improve as an artist. I focused on technicality at first, trying to get as proficient with a knife as possible, and then moved towards making bold artistic strides.

No matter how far I go with this art form, I will be forever grateful for what it has already given me. I have been able to participate in group and solo shows in California, Nevada, and here in my hometown of Richmond, VA. Last year I was a finalist in the Stencil Art Prize, which allowed me to connect with many other stencil artists and fans. I have made several life-long friends simply because we share a passion for cutting tiny holes in paper. Of course I would love to make stencil art my full-time profession. But if that never happens I will still continue to cut, for both my love of the artform, as well as the peace I get when I put on my headphones and get lost in cutting. For me there is no greater relaxation.

Every stencil I have ever made I have cut by hand. That being said, the techniques I have used over the years have varied wildly. I have cut stencils out of cardboard, card stock, mylar, paper, manilla folders, etc. I have designed both by hand as well as digitally (Photoshop, GIMP, Illustrator). I have printed, projected, and pasted, all with varying levels of success. My current method is mostly digital. I have been tweaking my image manipulation over the years, and I am at a point where I think my work has a distinct style. I see grain/artifacts as a positive attribute; they give the artwork a bit of dirtiness that appeals to me.

My stencil medium now is exclusively paper and mylar. I prefer paper, as I can get extremely detailed with little to no fatigue on my arm/wrist while cutting. For pieces that I feel I might want to reproduce several times, .003mm mylar is my choice. It cuts almost as easy as paper, and will retain its shape no matter how saturated it becomes with paint.

I started filming my painting process (and subsequently started my YouTube channel) to help beginning stencil artists improve their work. When I began cutting stencils, tutorials were few and far between, and video of the actual painting process was almost nonexistent.

Through my channel, I hope to educate and inspire more artists to give stenciling a shot.

Watch Cutanddestroy’s videos on how to make a stencil.

Lining Up Mutlilayer Stencils With Registration Marks

Check out more cuttanddestroy stencils:

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