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    imageMagical Urbanism, a website about urbanization, design and social change, is maintained by Mike Ernst. I'm an urban planner and designer based in New York City. I graduated from the Masters of City Planning program at UC Berkeley.

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    The Evolution of Stencil Art

    Stencil Art

    Using public streets as a vehicle for dialogue is a tradition as old as cities themselves. I remember in Latin class translating scribbles on the wall they found in Pompeii. While many a city council and neighborhood community group has hemmed and hawed how graffiti leads to a decline in quality of life, I’m certainly of the opinion that street art is an essential component of any city (note: I don’t own any property, so maybe this is easy for me to say). While at its worst, graffiti is about vandalism and petty territorial divides, when it’s good, it’s humorous and clever takes on urban life. The best results are stunning, and can have a profound way of challenging us, jarring our everyday existence, and making us rethinking our place in the world.

    Stencil Art

    The New York Times (login required) recently had an interesting take on how online forums are affecting street art:

    Graffiti in its traditional form, involving aerosol cans of spray paint and an inviting flat surface, still dominates on the streets. But online things are evolving quickly. Techniques are debated in forums, and photos of tags, or signatures, are constantly uploaded and swapped on popular photo-sharing Web sites like Sites like Wooster Collective function as digital galleries and as clearinghouses for street art on an international level.

    Stencil Art

    Now New York has its own center for the study of graffiti technology. The nascent Graffiti Research Lab is masterminded by two tech-minded artists, Evan Roth and James Powderly, and run from the Eyebeam gallery, a nonprofit arts and technology center where both men are fellows.

    The purpose of the project is to rethink how people make and look at graffiti and street art, not by making the stuff but by developing tools that graffiti writers could potentially use.

    Stencil Art

    “As more and more people learn to program at a younger age, and computers get cheaper, graffiti is eventually going to have these technological elements as a part of it,” Roth said.

    Stencil Art

    “There’s a strong crackdown, and gentrification changes the streets,” said Marc Schiller, the founder of Wooster Collective. “But it’s a great time to be creative in general. Creativity is so accessible now. On the street and off, on the Web, the barriers to being creative have never been lower.”

    Stencil Art

    These beautiful images are all from the Flickr Stencil group.

    Stencil Art

    More images can be found at Stencilboard, where you can sort them by city and country. Interested in making your own stencil art? You can find templates here.

    Update: Many of these images are by the British street artist Bansky

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    13 responses to “The Evolution of Stencil Art”

    1. richard says:

      Graffitti. Here in Hollland they allow on bare walls,etc, in glum areas or even some new suburbs, or even city walls, the use of graffitti.
      There are some awesome talents just hanging around with a spraycan,,,,,!!
      Nice pictures!
      Have a good day!

    2. richard says:

      I would like to use Suffering is not a Commodity in a writing piece,,May I?

    3. Dennis hudgens says:

      Beautiful sureal hipnotic sorry for possible incorrect spelling-but these images ive seen are so so beautiful. please keep up the great work of knocking down boredom and kicking aside sameness this stuff god likes i bet….

    4. Laura Schumm says:

      I go to an art school in Richmond, Va and here a graffitti artist serves more jail time than a drug dealer. What you are saying needs to be said and it needs to be heard. Fight the fight for street art, you are not alone.

    5. felipe says:

      I’m brazilian artist….
      beautiful art is stencil….
      muito legal a arte do stencil……
      estou come?├čando a fazer …..

    6. Josephine Artisto says:

      i’m impressed by yr works. the urban jungle i’m in is full of places just ripe for an extreme’ve just inspired me.i’m a novice in this area .would it be possible for you to provide me a step by step guide to making stencils of dimensions suitable for walls? i’m not from any commercial concern but am interested in teaching and directing teens to a new artistic expression in an urban setting with no monetary profits in mind.

    7. joseph oso ehebame says:

      good dey sir . my name in joseph oso ehebame ,am from nigeria and i do caving of wood and casing i we like to study more in your school,i we be very grafull if my request can be granted. thank you sir and GOD bless you and your family

    8. Hola!!! Les escribo desde Uruguay, me apasionan los stencil y el arte urbano, un saludos enorme desde la Rep??blca Oriental del Uruguay!!!


    9. Hanlie says:

      I’m all for good graffiti, but as you said, we don’t own property. I think tagging is stupid though because it is often not pretty. If an artist becomes malicious people will react negatively towards the genre – like if he comes back to the same wall after it has been repainted. But in general I think most people appreciate good graffiti that reflects on society.
      (Banksy sold some of his stuff at an exhibition recently for thousands, so people must like it) I suppose legalising it will invite just anyone to try it and then there will be no open walls for the real artists.

    10. Danielle says:

      this site is amazing… i love the time that goes in to all of these works of art! great job

    11. Danielle says:

      +++++++++++++++STENCILING IS NOT A CRIME++++++++++++++

    12. Moira says:

      es hermoso lo que hacen, por favor no dejen de hacerlo!!. Gracias.

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