Stencil Revolution
April 7, 2003 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Great tutorial on the last link.
posted by ColdChef at 7:28 PM on April 7, 2003

Actually, tutorials are in the 8th link.
Stencil stencil. :)
posted by mediareport at 7:34 PM on April 7, 2003

Wow, great links! Makes me want to go out and cut shapes out of paper.
posted by me3dia at 7:38 PM on April 7, 2003

I notice lots of these here in Wellington. I was just musing this morning that I ought to get the camera and make a site about them, so this is a weird piece of synchronicity.

Winged apes, spacemen and the slogans "Sniffing glue for Jesus" and "You sleep, we creep" predominate.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:38 PM on April 7, 2003

Also Acamonchi, Banksy, Buff Monster, Stencil Graffiti,, and Toasters [via]
Stencil stencil.
posted by eddydamascene at 7:39 PM on April 7, 2003

great post. thanks!
posted by specialk420 at 7:43 PM on April 7, 2003

Stencil Graffiti? Jeez... If you're going to deface something, you should at least try to be original. Seems kind of unsatisfying. Like taking a dump with someone else's shit.
posted by groundhog at 7:53 PM on April 7, 2003

See also: the March 25th thread Graffiti stencils as art
posted by gluechunk at 8:04 PM on April 7, 2003

Isn't graffiti really just vandalism?

For example, French smear Brit dead is vandalism. But a batboy stencil spray-painted on someone else's property is "art"? I don't think so.
posted by hama7 at 8:41 PM on April 7, 2003

excellent post.. must try out.
posted by lotsofno at 8:53 PM on April 7, 2003

phew! i am glad someone is around to tell me what is and isn't art!
posted by timb at 8:58 PM on April 7, 2003

Thanks, gluechunk and specialk420; you were both very gracious. Interesting that a Google for "stencil" here didn't come up with the March 25 thread, which includes "stencils."

Interesting that hama7 also denounced the art then, too.

Did I say interesting? I'm sorry, I meant "boring." Does anyone care anymore what anti-graffiti folks think, given the current speed of privatization of all of this planet's public spaces?
posted by mediareport at 9:23 PM on April 7, 2003

For example, French smear Brit dead is vandalism. But a batboy stencil spray-painted on someone else's property is "art"? I don't think so.

Don't know much about art, I see... Nice of you to share your uninformed opinion, though; thanks so much.
posted by JollyWanker at 9:32 PM on April 7, 2003

Downtown Dallas used to be a wonderful place for all kinds of grafitti. Beautiful wall murals and cryptic spraypainted messages and stencils. I tried capturing some of them on my own website years ago. I may still have the pictures somewhere but the jpgs didn't survive my last server move. Fortunately, there are others who believe this art needs to be captured and saved for posterity.

In more recent years, corporations have stepped in and now where there were once miraculously intricate "vandalism" there are now billboard size advertisements. The businesses which own the buildings got wise and now lease the wallspace out to sneaker companies or movie distributors, repainting the walls on regular intervals or even covering the entire wall with a canvas that's lowered from the roof covering the entire side of the building. Sometimes these ads improve the cityscape, but more often than not they're eyesores that lend nothing supportive to the surrounding architecture. My personal favorite is "Mass Transit." A mural of a nine story tall toddler pulling a wagon by a (real) parking lot, with lifesize cars and trucks in his wagon. I drive by it on my trips through downtown Dallas, and it never ceases to impress me. Unfortunately, I can't find an image of it on the Web.

Stencils are good for comparatively quick graffiti "art crime" activities. If done at night and with proper preparation, a stencil can be left on a downtown wall in a matter of minutes. Whereas the really good graffiti could take far longer. Some SubGenius followers made stencils of the infamous Dobbshead back in the late 1980s, and put his face all over the place. Nowadays though, it's old hat. The best graffiti in Dallas can still be found in Deep Ellum. However it's just not as proliferant as it used to be, and those obnoxious billboard walls are encroaching on the cityscape more and more. It's yet another example of "free speech only if you can afford it" in Modern America.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:38 PM on April 7, 2003

[I think I see what went wrong; I Googled "stencil" instead of using the local search function, which would have caught the earlier thread. I'm guessing Google hadn't updated its record of MeFi since March 25. Live and learn; next time I'll try both.]
posted by mediareport at 9:40 PM on April 7, 2003

These are great. Thanks.
posted by cryosis at 9:41 PM on April 7, 2003

Wow, thanks for that great comment, ZachsMind. Here in Raleigh, the city lets taggers do what they want to the walls and guard towers of an abandoned youth detention center (across the street from the state DMV and next to the Museum of Art). It's an amazing, constantly changing public display, created for free.

Soon after 9/11, for example, an amazing TV-headed hydra appeared halfway up the two-story wall of the detention center. The TV screen-heads showed images of Osama, a stupid-looking excited reporter and explosions. I don't know how the artist who painted it managed to do such incredibly detailed work so high up off the ground. Stunning stuff, really. And most of it's still there, I assume out of respect from other taggers. Friends tell me people drive 200-300 miles to put their art up, even though they know it'll probably be covered over in a few weeks.

Raleigh just allotted $400K for a public skate park in a bond coming up for a vote this fall. I'm planning to lobby to make sure the park includes open walls for graffiti, stencils, etc. It's one of the best things a city can do for itself. Anyone have info from other cities that've built public graffiti walls?
posted by mediareport at 10:15 PM on April 7, 2003

Don't know if it's still there, but years gone by the was a wall in what I think was a basketball court in NYC along the West Side highway that had a huge mural tribute to Keith Haring.

Amazing wall.
posted by lasthrsman at 11:52 PM on April 7, 2003

Actually, I may be's been years since I've seen it, but THIS might actually be the wall I was talking about. It was done by Haring himself, without city permission.

In other words, it was graffiti.
posted by lasthrsman at 11:56 PM on April 7, 2003

mediareport: When I was a student at NCSU (1992-1996), the Free Expression Tunnel was doing brisk business... though it rarely featured anything terribly artistic, like you described. It seemed mainly a place for frats and sororities to paint up Pledge Week announcements... my own club painted signs for the hell of it once (it was a computer-themed residential group. Our real reason for existence was net trek.)

I actually made a stencil with a birthday message that I sprayed every 5 ft in the tunnel late one night. The Free Expression Tunnel always seemed more a bulletin board for stuff like that than community art.

Still, it would be a great idea for a skate park to have painting walls.
posted by meep at 6:19 AM on April 8, 2003

Banksy is one of my favorite street artists. Last summer I really wanted to give walking Tours of Banksy's London, but never got around to it. I love his wry sense of humo(u)r. For anyone interested in Stencil street art, there is a book called Stencil Graffiti by Tristan Manco. It can be procured at Fopp for about 7GBP. Elsewhere it is slightly more.
posted by shoepal at 6:25 AM on April 8, 2003

Whoops. Seems eddydamascene beat me to the punch. Apologies for the link dupes.
posted by shoepal at 6:28 AM on April 8, 2003

Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore runs Protest Records - mp3s and stencils.
posted by iconomy at 6:36 AM on April 8, 2003

while we are on the subject of the web and art: has always been a favorite and somehow relates to stencils.. and just for hama - the best war poster site i have seen
posted by specialk420 at 7:58 AM on April 8, 2003

I have to admit that I do enjoy some graffiti and these stencil bits are pretty cool. On the other hand, some cites (plenty of public space still in Europe, M'report) the tagging of the landscape is wholly out of control and contributes nothing to the urban landscape. I've seen kids walking down the street in the middle of the evening doing nothing but yanking out their marker and with a few strokes leaving their scent behind. Whee. /old man voice
posted by Dick Paris at 8:21 AM on April 8, 2003

So ... what was this post about again? Ta, mediareport.
posted by walrus at 9:08 AM on April 8, 2003

I love to hear about cities actually supporting public art, no matter what the source.
posted by Hackworth at 9:49 AM on April 8, 2003

doing nothing but yanking out their marker and with a few strokes leaving their scent behind.

Actually, I agree with you there, old man. Nothing bores me more than the typical "me! me! me!" tag that doesn't have any thought behind it other than...well, "me! me! me!"
posted by mediareport at 11:46 AM on April 8, 2003

Oh, how cute! The google adbot just doesn't understand:
Graffiti & Paint Remover
Graffiti, Spray Paint, Vandal Marks Plus 6,500+ Janitorial Items.

posted by eddydamascene at 12:00 PM on April 8, 2003

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