5 Questions with Ralf Kempken

Stencil artist Ralf Kempken from Melbourne, Australia, won the 2012 and 2013 Stencil Art Prize

How did you get into making stencil art?

I used to include repetitive patterns in my earlier paintings. To speed the process up I started to cut stencils. After having a go at photography I combined this with the stencil cutting and then used it as a printmaking process in order to create multiples but somewhere along the line I decided that my stencils looked better than the paintings so they have turned into the artwork itself.

As the cut work is more about the concept, the influences come more from psychology and philosophy. About how our early life colours the way we view the world as an adult, on how our memories shape who we are, or how we shape our memories to justify ourselves. The fallibility of our perception.

How would you describe your style of art?

I have no idea what to call the cut stencil work. To distinguish them from my more traditional spray painted stencil work I have started to refer to them as screens. The cut pieces are really more about the idea (we all view the world through screens of our own making) than the technique even though they are still stencils that can be used as such.

Where does your creative inspiration come from? 

From trying to learn about life and myself, not in a grand scheme of  things but  in the ordinary aspects of life. From having a family, children (four of them) and realizing that they teach me more than I can teach them.

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

I draw, play, fumble with imagery that I collect to express my ideas. I make mistakes, they often show me the way forward.

What would be one piece of advice that you would give you young artists starting to explore the stencil medium?

The stencil is a fantastic tool, you can make it out of anything you can cut holes in, you can use it any which way you please and you can push any substance you please through it. Think outside the stencil.

Read more about Ralf Kemkpen from his website.

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