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.

Trench Life in Silhouette

Trench Life in Silhouette

After watching Silhouette Secrets, recently launched on Amazon, people often ask: what sparked my interest in silhouettes? It isn't such an easy question to answer.  However, my mind often returns to this silhouette, which has been in my family for years. It may well be the first silhouette I ever saw. (more…)

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Our Paul Daniels cameo

Our Paul Daniels cameo

Our film Silhouette Secrets includes a cameo appearance by Paul Daniels.  This interview - our Paul Daniels cameo - was a late addition. We were looking for a magician to talk about Dai Vernon, the celebrated father of close-up magic, who earned a living as a street silhouettist during the Great American Depression. (more…)

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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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Caversham Arts Trail: Once a year I become a cat

Caversham Arts Trail: Once a year I become a cat

Once a year I become a cat. Well, it’s an acronym, of course. CAT stands for Caversham Arts Trail, which is the annual open-studio event for artists based in Caversham.  (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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A silhouette of Marie Antoinette

A silhouette of Marie Antoinette

Last Wednesday I picked up an eighteenth-century silhouette by Isabella Beetham. Beetham is a well-known Georgian artist and her work is much prized by collectors today. She is something of a feminist icon. (more…)

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The European Art of the Silhouette

The European Art of the Silhouette

In the midst of the referendum debate I would like to draw your attention to the European Art of the Silhouette. Every so often I am asked to appear as a guest speaker about silhouettes and their history. (more…)

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First festival successes

First festival successes

Silhouette Secrets seems off to a flying start. We took part in two film festivals towards the end of 2015 and have applied for many more this year. The first two festivals were the Marbella International Film Festival, where we were nominated for Best Documentary, and NiFF Houston, where we won the Best Documentary Award. (more…)

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