Silhouette Cutting by Charles Burns

PERHAPS YOU attended a party recently and met a silhouettist. Did you leave with a small paper portrait of yourself? Did you think it a surprising and random art and decide to check out Charles’ website? Good plan!

Charles Burns takes pride in being the most obsessive silhouettist working the UK today. In truth, there aren’t many! He took a musty, Victorian art and reinvented it as an engaging entertainment for the twenty-first century. Watching Charles cut a silhouette up close is an object lesson in hand-eye coordination.

People ask:

“How on earth did you discover you could do that?”

His equipment (a pair of scissors and a pocketful of paper) hasn’t changed since Jane Austen’s time. The skill and presentation, however, is unmistakably fresh and modern. Silhouette, for Charles, is a contemporary art. 

The Roving Artist

TWENTY YEARS AGO Charles teamed up with fellow silhouettist Michael Herbert as The Roving Artist. Their aim? To bring the very best of silhouette cutting to corporate and private events. Between them they attend over 300 events a year, and yet still manage to find  people who’ve never met a silhouettist!

Their success lies both in their natural enthusiasm and in the captivating simplicity of their art. All a silhouettist needs is paper, scissors and a somewhat quirky skill. 

Whether you’re thinking of a silhouettist for a wedding, or a team of artists to cut 500 silhouettes at a gala dinner, we can make it work for you.

Cutting a silhouette

CHARLES BURNS began his career, unpromisingly as a Covent Garden street portrait artist.

Today he’s an author, speaker and film presenter, with  a busy schedule cutting silhouettes at some of the most prestigious events in the land.

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The art of cutting profile portraits with scissors is an old English craft with a fascinating history. It died out in Victorian times (after the invention of photography) and that was nearly the end of it. 

Silhouette Secrets postcard

Silhouette Secrets

A modern-day silhouettist’s journey into the surprising world of the shadow portrait.

Charles takes you back in time and introduces you to his favourite silhouettists. The film culminates in a surprising “duel of scissors”, at an Audi showroom in Houston, Texas. Who is the fastest silhouette cutter in the West?.

find out now


@SILHOUETTIST: Charles’ latest blog features the caricature cuttings of Inger Eidem.

Inger worked for forty years as a silhouettist at Tivoli Gardens. Charles looks at her working methods through the eyes of a fellow street artist

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Running Man