What is Stencil Graffiti?

I guess we all know what graffiti is – it’s those random markings on a wall where nobody should be scribbling.  It defaces public (or private property) and someone gets the task of scrubbing it off.  It’s inappropriate writing, (usually with a spray paint) in an inappropriate place.  It’s quite often done for a dare, like on the side of a high bridge or somewhere most people wouldn’t go.  This type of “art” goes back centuries.

However, stencil graffiti is a different thing and a popular, modern art form, although still often applied on public walls.  The stencil is the same as any other type but probably much bigger.  It’s made out of cardboard or acetate or paper and enables the reproduction of images or text.  All that’s done is that the stencil material is cut into the desired design and the image is applied by spraying or rolling the stencil with paint up against its destination.

Usually, people who do stencil graffiti want to share a message, often political, and using a stencil means that they can reproduce the same design all over the place with relative ease.  Sometimes, they just want to publicise their work and a stencil makes the duplication of the image much easier than having to paint it over and over in different places.

Stencil graffiti is more of an art form than just scribbling on a wall, although in many societies it’s still illegal, but it does express all sorts of humour, irony and political commentary.

Like any other form of stencil, a graffiti stencil can be big or small, image or text, but the tradition continues that the graffiti will be applied in an inaccessible place, although in plain sight.  Sometimes, it’s not in such plain sight and the idea is that you need to hunt it down which brings additional pleasure to the finder.  Sometimes, the resultant art ends up being a valuable masterpiece, such as those done by Banksy, the now renowned street artist whose works turn up in the strangest places!

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