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Artist makes stencil art so realistic, you’d think you’re looking at photos

Stencil art is undergoing a revolution. From what was once a vilified cult practice has now become a mainstay in contemporary galleries. In Melbourne’s art scene, Kirpy happens to be one of those leading the local revolution.

Kirpy pushes the boundaries of stencil art by putting a stylistic sophistication on the street art genre. His works often feature greyscale palette stencils of different locations – such as random streets and buildings, as well as iconic landmarks – around the world.

His process is anything but simple. Using a piece of cardboard as his canvas, Kirpy layers at least six stencils to make highly-realistic depictions of places and people. It’s painstaking, without a doubt, but the results speak for themselves.

Kirpy's stencil art

Some of Kirpy’s works will be on display at the upcoming Stencil Art Prize, an annual exhibit that celebrates the best artists from the field of stenciling.

We recently caught up with Kirpy to know more about his craft, as well as the Stencil Art Prize. Check it out:

Tell us about where your artistic fascination with urban centres/cities stems from?

“I draw a pretty direct line of inspiration and influence from my surrounding environment. Having lived in big cities all my life I guess it was a natural progression for me to start documenting and painting the places I inhabited.

“I think cities provide a nourishing environment for the cultures they contain and as a result are often shaped by it. Cultures such as ethnic diversity, art, and music all change and form a unique aesthetic and atmosphere of a city which is something is something that makes certain cities so unique and interesting.

“This atmosphere and vibe of these cities is something I find fascinating and strive to incorporate into my work.”

Kirpy's stencil art

Where did you learn how to do Stencil Art and who were your mentors/inspirations when you were getting going?

“My process was self-taught through observation and trial and error. It’s a process which is still evolving and developing, I’m always trying to build my skill set in all parts of creating art and painting.

“When I first started cutting stencils in 2005 Melbourne had some very active and innovative artists working on the street. The Everfresh guys were probably my biggest local inspiration, and through the website Stencil Revolution I was able to see a whole range of works being made by people all over the world.”

Kirpy's stencil art

Tell us about what lead you to get involved with the Stencil Art Prize, and how vibrant is the Stencil Art community in Australia?

“I’ve been aware of the Stencil Art Prize for a few years, but waited until I had a piece that I was happy enough with to enter and a piece which reflected my current ideas and technique the best.

“I can only really comment for Melbourne, but it seems over the last 10 years or so stencil art has definitely shifted primarily into the galleries and carries less of the street art stigma once attached to it.”

Kirpy's stencil art

What music/musicians/producers do you listen to to get inspired/creative?

“There isn’t really a genre that’s exempt from listening while I work. Spending so much time at the desk and in the studio allows me to get through plenty of hours of music which is something I’m really grateful for.

“As far as what I’m listening to, it fluctuates in phases. I like listening to a lot of long house/techno mixes as the constant mixing doesn’t break my concentration as a track ends and the next begins. Other days I’ll move between hip hop, soul, reggae, drum and bass, anything really.

“Listening to and collecting music is something that goes hand in hand with making art for me.”

Who’s the best stencil artist out there at the moment?

“I think my favourite stencil artists at the moment are the ones that are pushing the medium the furthest. Artists like Evol, Sten and Lex, and Anders Gjennestad are definitely ahead of the game.”

Kirpy's stencil art

The Stencil Art Prize will be held from September 9-17 at Stirrup Gallery in Sydney. Some of the highlights include: Australian street artist ‘Rone’ judging the AUS$5,000 (US$3,970) cash prize, a large stencil mural from Marrickville artist ‘Camo’, and entries from 67 finalists from 25 countries. To find more about the Stencil Art Prize, head on over here.

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