Stencil Art is a technique that has been around since the early years of human history. Basically, stenciling is done by placing any kind of material with patterned gaps onto the “canvas” or desired painting and then applying the desired coloring material onto it. Since the colors would only hit the canvas below through the gaps that were pre-applied onto the material covering it, a design could be produced.
These gaps can be patterned through any kind of style that the artist desires. In fact, over 35,000 years ago, evidence of stencil art being practiced by early humans was already seen on the walls of caves located in Asia and Europe.
Prehistoric people would place their hands against the walls and spray a colored pigment over them, the result would be a variety of hand-shaped decorations which adorned natural land formations that still survives to this day.
The practice of stenciling has also been seen in later periods of human history until it has evolved to what it is currently known today — a form of mass-producing art in a creative yet efficient manner.
From first being used to decorate clothes, and then moving on to be used for illustrations in books, stencil art in modern times has been an integral part of the Pop Art movement which first gained traction during the turn of the 20th century.
A famous variation of stencil art that has gained prominence in modern times is the incorporation of aerosol material. Besides being used by businesses and other legal authorities usually on road signs and other notices, aerosol stencils have been a favorite among street artists primarily due to their ease of use and accessibility.
Aerosol stencil art has been a mainstay in the graffiti culture since it doesn’t take a long time to apply artworks using this art technique. And because most graffiti art is performed illegally on public surfaces, the use of stenciling in graffiti makes it easy to mass-produce a certain design onto any chosen surface with just the right sprays which takes no more than a few minutes to accomplish.
A particular aspect of stencils that has made it appealing to graffiti artists and street artists, in general, is that it makes applying words and letterings to any surface possible in just the blink of an eye. In particular, artists who want to send a message — such as raising concern about a political or social issue — can get their message across in an instant.
Materials used for stencils can be mixed and matched depending on the style that the artist wants to achieve. There is no single rule that binds artists to a particular technique when practicing stencil art. And therein lies the beauty of the art form which is yet another manifestation of art in contemporary times.
Taking on several other forms and purposes throughout its evolution, whether it's for home use or for more professional applications such as military gear, it is obvious that the emergence of stencil art is a permanent mark on human history and one of the perfect representations of the limits of human creativity.
Check out this painting called Psycho kitty, see how many stencils were used in its composition.