The stencil is an artistic and professional technique that existed well before the appearance of street art since it goes back to prehistory. Indeed, our ancestors already used this technique for their rock paintings in the caves. Used throughout the centuries mainly for marking reasons, we find stencils for painting coats of arms, numbers on trains, for political slogans, or more recently for advertising logos. This stencil technique was taken up by street art artists in the 80s.
The stencil is a technique of urban art that requires a lot of preparation work and a lot of precision in its realization. Before being able to place his stencil on a wall or on a canvas, the street art artist will have to prepare his matrices on the basis of an image he has selected.
On the basis of this image that he has worked to bring out the contrasts before printing, the artist will prepare a number of different layers, each layer being cut manually or mechanically according to an order defined by the artist himself. At each layer corresponds a color, which, affixed successively on the chosen wall or on a canvas, will reveal at the end a multicolored work close to the original image.
This support is chosen by many artists on the one hand to differentiate themselves from more classic graffiti wall artists, but also because the stencil, like collage, is much faster to paint. Indeed, most of the work is done upstream by the artist, in his studio, and the time spent in the street to create his work is much more limited, while still being dependent on the number of stencil layers. This is the reason why many stencils are single-colored, because they are very quick to paint, a matrix and a spray can and it's over.
The most famous users of this technique in the 80s were BLEK THE RAT and MISTIC, who, although still painting in the street, have turned to the canvases on which they reproduce their so characteristic stencils. Today, the stencil artist who is at the center of all the attentions and all the questions is the English artist BANSKY whose identity is still a mystery. Very active in the fight against the financialization of art, the British artist is used to media buzz to get his message across.