Silhouette art is not old-fashioned, it appears to be as trendy as ever. Yet, great silhouette artists are hard to find, and there are only a handful of excellent cut-paper profilists in the world today. The world’s best silhouette artists can be found easily on the internet, by googling the word silhouette artist. The first 8 names listed from the only 20 or so real silhouette artists in existence today, most likely are each an accomplished silhouette artist, in varying ability.
In home decorating, you see life-sized silhouettes of all colors, themed into the décor, stamped out on canvas. The clever decorator will just send in profile photos and find a company on the internet, that can turn this into a large framed art piece. But is this a real silhouette? According to America’s premier silhouette artists, Cindi Harwood Rose and Kathryn Flocken, it is not. Cindi Rose, a high quality silhouette artist for 40 years says, “While these computer stamped silhouettes from photos may add a personal touch to a room, they should not be confused with the artwork of silhouette hand-cutting from life, an art difficult to master.” Kathryn Flocken, writes, in her book, Silhouettes Rediscovering The Lost Art,” In the modern age of photography, film and digital art, silhouette portraiture and design is fast becoming a lost art.”
Silhouette artist Cindi Harwood’s sister, Holly, a natural artist, and former professional silhouettest says, “It is rare to find a real silhouette artist, who can observe someone, and capture their likeness, without sketching, or using a shadow, just with paper, scissors, and talent. My family inherited their art talent from our mother, a profile artist and architectural designer.” Kathryn Flocken’s mother was also an artist, and she, Cindi, and Holly all cut silhouettes for Disney. An amazing fact is that hand-cut silhouettes were the first animation. The first cartoons were silhouettes and were done from many popular stories, “Jack and The Beanstalk, Snow-White, Cinderella were all silhouetted by Lotte Reiniger, in the 1930’s, Cindi Rose, explains. Disney has had a long relationship with real silhouette artists, and often that is the only place one can find one. A silhouette artist, can improve their natural art abilities, after first drawing portraits from life. These skills can’t be taught, they are developed from innate art talents. Most silhouette artists began cutting and drawing portraits as children, and cutting silhouettes after seeing someone do it, without taking a lesson in the art. There are no lessons. The art just can’t be taught.
“ Tracing a subject’s profile from a wall, and sketching it, then cutting the shape out of black craft paper, school-teacher-style is not an art, it is the ugly stepsister, without the grace and intricacy or introspection that a real silhouette artist can apply to someone’s profile paper interpretation. The work is distorted, like a shadow, and the image is less than who the person is, “ says C. H. Rose. A real silhouette shows more than the person, it goes into the psyche of the individual, and it speaks volumes.
The white lines are cut-out, and the more interior details, the better the artist, in most accounts.
Emma Ruterford in The Art of the Shadow quotes the globe’s foremost silhouette artist in history as Monsieur Augustin Edourt as stating that silhouette artistry done freehand, “was a sophisticated portrait so accurate it could be used for scientific purposes.” To learn more about a current silhouette artist and compare their different skills, Google silhouette artist, and compare, you can also watch videos on You Tube of the various silhouettests of this decade, as well as the fabulous silhouette animations of Lotte Reiniger.