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 Film, & the chance of a Square Meal

A Film, & the chance of a Square Meal

When I first discovered silhouettes they seemed like a tiny corner in the world of art, unloved by the fine-art establishment. The thought of a silhouette documentary was hard to imagine. Today, I am amazed by the journey they have led me.  (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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Some very fast Germans

Some very fast Germans

An interesting challenge was set recently by a client in Germany. He required each of 250 conference delegates to receive a silhouette - cut from their own corporate-blue paper - during a conference dinner.  My initial proposal (based on tried-and-tested advice to allow two minutes per person) was to book four artists.  He replied that he had the budget to book two, Mike and myself, on the understanding that everybody would receive a one-minute silhouette. (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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Silhouette Workshops and other cutting-edge ideas

Silhouette Workshops and other cutting-edge ideas

I've been getting a number of enquiries about dinner parties, or small meetings, for 20 people or less. One particular event organiser, who called after a client had asked her about silhouettes, was understandably skeptical:"They're only expecting 12 guests" she said"I know how fast you are, you'll only be there for 15 minutes or so, won't you?" (more…)

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A royal profile or two

A royal profile or two

On the 19th May I was invited to cut a royal profile or two at Coworth Park. It was one of the only events I've worked at where the toastmaster had to announce lunch by calling for "Your Majesties, Royal Highnesses, Highnesses, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen... " to take their seats.  (more…)

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Dai Vernon and the double-dip recession

Dai Vernon and the double-dip recession

A quick update to let you know that, taking our inspiration from Dai Vernon, we've taken a last-minute stand at the Square Meal "Venues & Events" exhibition at Old Billingsgate this week.   (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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Hollow-cut life studies

Hollow-cut life studies

The month of May, as well as being busy season for silhouette cutting at weddings and other events, is also the month for Mays Barn open studio here in Reading. (more…)

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Doll’s House Silhouettes

Doll’s House Silhouettes

One of my favourite projects in Mastering Silhouettes was to create a set of silhouettes for a doll's house. However, I had to think carefully about scale! (more…)

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iPhone Drawings

iPhone Drawings

Now that Mastering Silhouettes is out of my hands I have some time to return to the studio and do some painting.  My biggest inspiration so far this year has been the (very crowded) David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy, so I've been making iPhone drawings. (more…)

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The Book is Launched!

The Book is Launched!

My new book, Mastering Silhouettes, was launched last month with a small party at the London Sketch Club.  We were fortunate enough to be sponsored by Hendricks Gin, after I worked at their "umbrella emporium" party last year. They supplied the drink, so it was a small but tasty party.  Thank you Hendricks!  (more…)

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