Blog: @silhouettist

A modern-day silhouettist tells his story.
Charles Burns writes about his explorations into the art and history of silhouette. His mission is to bring this often-overlooked art to a wider, appreciative audience.

The Oxford Shark

The Oxford Shark

During filming of Silhouette Secrets in February 2014 we were unexpectedly let down by an interviewee in London. We found ourselves, camera crew in tow, with nothing to film on a beautiful winter morning. On a whim we got the Russian motorcycle out of the shed and headed out into Oxford. (more…)

Read more

Digital Selfies

Digital Selfies

As our Indiegogo campaign enters it’s final week I’m posting the promised update... and a request for a tweet! Tomorrow will be Silhouette Secrets' Twitter day, and your chance to win a digital selfie. (more…)

Read more

Free Silhouettes and other silly ideas

Free Silhouettes and other silly ideas

Free silhouettes! I begin this year in a state of high excitement. We have started filming “Silhouette Secrets” in earnest.  This is my first foray into the world of film (apart from occasional TV appearances: Blue Peter, Tales of Tools, Big Brother's Big Mouth etc.) I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience. (more…)

Read more

First attempts at filming

First attempts at filming

I am excited to report we have at last started filming Silhouette Secrets. We filmed this interview and "how to cut a silhouette" sequence in front of my wall of silhouette duplicate albums. It is unlikely to be used in the film, but I hope it gives a flavour of what we have in mind. (more…)

Read more

Will anybody fund a silhouette documentary film?

Will anybody fund a silhouette documentary film?

When I first discovered the art of silhouette it seemed like a tiny corner in the world of art, unloved by the fine-art establishment. Back then, the thought of a silhouette documentary was hard to imagine. Today, I'm amazed by the journey which silhouette has led me on.  (more…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

Some very fast Germans

Some very fast Germans

An interesting challenge was set for us by a client in Germany. He wanted 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, Michael and myself, on the understanding that everybody received a one-minute silhouette. (more…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

New silhouette scissors

New silhouette scissors

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

Read more

Sent to publisher

Sent to publisher

I managed to finish the book, and lots of free silhouettes are going out in the post.  "Mastering Silhouettes", full of silhouette ideas, is coming out in February and is available now for advance ordering on Amazon. (more…)

Read more

The Ink and Wash silhouettes of Mr Charles

The Ink and Wash silhouettes of Mr Charles

I sent the first draft of my book to the publishers this morning.  It's been an intense few months, but I've really enjoyed the opportunity to write about people like Mr Charles and his ink-wash silhouettes.  (more…)

Read more

Your profile needed!

Your profile needed!

I need to ask for a little help. I've been commissioned to write a silhouette book, which for me is very exciting.  The book is due to come out sometime in 2012. There's only one real problem. I don't know how to write!

Read more