The Last Silhouettist

A modern-day silhouettist tells his story. Charles Burns writes about his research into the art and history of silhouette. On the way he meets some fascinating characters, both ancient and modern.

A silhouettist’s approach to data

A silhouettist’s approach to data

What should a silhouettist's approach to data be? This question has been much on my mind recently. I'm not alone; the launch of GDPR in Europe – and the subsequent wave of reply-or-unsubscribe emails – has got everybody thinking. What kind of data do I use? For me, the question has caused me to reexamine some of my most fundamental ideas about the role of silhouettes in society.  (more…)

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Your not-in-profile profile

Your not-in-profile profile

“Can a silhouette be not in profile?  What happens if you cut me face on?”   For years, like most silhouette artists, I tended to avoid these questions.    (more…)

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Can a shadow survive a fire?

Can a shadow survive a fire?

If you have ever seen my film, or heard me speak, you will know the story of how I taught myself to cut silhouettes by studying the duplicate albums of Hubert Leslie. (more…)

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A Paper Anniversary silhouette

A Paper Anniversary silhouette

One year on falls the paper anniversary. A little over a year ago I was booked to attend a wedding at the Savoy, London. It was a wonderful event and I cut some memorable silhouettes, including a three-minute cutting of one of the most complicated hats I've ever seen. (more…)

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Make ’em Stop, Make ’em Stay …

Make ’em Stop, Make ’em Stay …

... Make 'em Watch, Make 'em Pay.  Some people feel 2017 will be a year of uncertainty. Some businesses are worried about the uncertainty itself. Will their business cope with Brexit? What about the Trump effect?

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 Mixed-media silhouettes of buildings

 Mixed-media silhouettes of buildings

Today, the making of silhouettes is synonymous with paper cutting.  However, this was not always so.  Silhouettists of the past were intent on the capturing of shadows, the medium was secondary to this end. (more…)

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Wedding cake silhouettes

Wedding cake silhouettes

During 2015 I noticed a lot of couples adding a wedding cake silhouette to their cakes. This is a great way to bring the theme of silhouette into the wedding. Some of the cakes are really creative. (more…)

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Radio shades

Radio shades

Whenever I feel I've exhausted all the challenges silhouette cutting has to offer, a new one always opens itself up to me.  A week or so ago I was asked to cut a single silhouette. The subject was Tony Blackburn and the challenge was to cut it live on the radio! (more…)

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Silhouette Slide Show

Silhouette Slide Show

I am sending you a silhouette slide show from Japan, full of my favourite silhouettes from the last year or so. I'm currently away on a short break in Osaka (my son is spending a year at university here) but would like to let you know about a couple of showcase events I'll be taking part in on my return to the UK.  (more…)

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Skype silhouettes and a new website

Skype silhouettes and a new website

I'm not sure how it all went for you, but for me the Olympics seems to have been a quiet time. I've been cutting silhouettes on Skype and at a series of August weddings. I was booked for just one post-Olympic drinks reception, by Coca-Cola. (more…)

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New silhouette scissors

New silhouette scissors

One of the things people often ask when they see me cutting is "How many pairs of silhouette scissors do you get through?"I get the impression they are expecting to hear I use at least six pairs a night, as they are usually quite surprised when I explain that I've been using the same pair of scissors for the last ten years! (more…)

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