Just Paper and Scissors

Roving Artist promo video, 3′ 17″

FOR NEARLY THIRTY YEARS Charles Burns, aka the Roving Artist, has been cutting silhouettes at weddings, corporate events and charity dos. Famous for the speed and accuracy of his scissor-cut portraits – as well as the enthusiasm with which he approaches them – his trademark surgical scissors are never far from his hand.

An ancient art brought back to life

Silhouette portraits first became popular during the Georgian and Regency periods (think Jane Jane Austen).

Today, anybody in the world can have their silhouettes cut by Charles, either via his virtual Zoom studio or by booking him to attend a meaningful event. Whether cut online or in person, you’ll be amazed by the speed and accuracy of his portraits, as well as the wit and charm with which they are made.

Charles has taken a musty, long-forgotten art and reinvented it as an engaging entertainment for the twenty-first century. His equipment – a pair of scissors and a pocketful of paper – hasn’t changed since Jane Austen’s time. His skill and presentation, on the other hand, is unmistakably fresh and modern. Watching Charles cut a silhouette is an object lesson in hand-eye coordination.

How did you discover you could do that?

How did you discover you could do that?

The Eighteenth Century Selfie

A video of Charles’ recent TEDx in Arendal, Norway, on The Eighteenth-Century Selfie. Please watch and like! The talk is 15-minutes long and features a live portrait of an audience member.

Charles’ Story

Beginning his career as a street portrait artist in London’s Covent Garden, Charles has since gone on to cut portraits of the Queen (three times now), President’s Clinton and Mandela and many other extraordinary people.

He achieved this primarily by focussing on the art of the silhouettist with unrelenting and laser-like determination. At the age of 40 he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, an event which he describes as “strangely empowering”.

In this series of articles he tells the story in his own words.

Two white and one black silhouette arranged on cards

My Puroland Silhouettes

WHEREVER I TRAVELin the world, I always try to meet other silhouette artists. There are not many of us and I’ve always felt it’s important to make a connection…

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Edo period Kawagoe building

Typhoons and Silhouettes

MyJapanese mother in law was 96 years old when she passed away in the summer. She was fond of telling everybody that she was born in the same year…

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Comparing old and new silhouettes

Can a shadow survive a fire?

IF YOU’VE 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…

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Charles’ self portrait caricature as Roving Artist


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