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Stencil Pirates [Paperback]

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Item description for Stencil Pirates by Josh MacPhee...

Stencil Pirates is the first comprehensive book dedicated to stencil street art. Included are artist profiles, an in-depth history of stencil graffiti, its political context, and how stencils fit into the larger pantheon of street expression. Also here are a detailed "how-to" manual with designing, cutting, and painting tips from the artists, as well as 20 perforated cardstock stencil templates for readers who can't wait to hit the streets.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   191
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 8.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   1.14 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 13, 2004
Publisher   Soft Skull Press
ISBN  1932360158  
ISBN13  9781932360158  

Availability  0 units.

More About Josh MacPhee

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Josh MacPhee is a cultural worker living in Brooklyn, NY. His activities often revolve around themes of history, radical politics, and public space. His books include "Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures" (co-edited with Dara Greenwald), "Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today, Reproduce and Revolt" (edited with Favianna Rodriquez), and "Realizing the Impossible" (edited with Erik Reuland). He also is a member of the political art cooperative and a co-editor of "Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics."

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art History
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art Instruction & Reference > General
3Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Painting > General
4Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Graphic Design > Pop Culture
5Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Crafts & Hobbies > General
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Popular Culture

Reviews - What do customers think about Stencil Pirates?

Stencil Pirates  Dec 30, 2007
Awesome book, Highly recommend it as a must buy for anyone into the street art scene, It has a detailed guide on how to make & use your own stencils & gives a history on the subject & also introduces the reader to a few of the best artists that use this medium. Great book, A wonderful addition to my collection,and anyone who gets it!!...
Street Art and Graffiti are Political  Jan 10, 2006
In the flood of recent books about graffiti - this is one of the only books to seriously take on the 'function' of illegal public markings in society. There must be 50+ well-distributed books about graffiti that manage to suck out most of the political implications of graffiti in exchange for ego boosting. Additionally, the descriptions and history of graffiti in the global south make it quite unique and equitable.

From page 36 " At their best and most cryptic, stencils are signs that are both hollow yet simultaneously pregnant with meaning. They are signs without signifiers, images or statements with no clear or fixed meaning..."

MacPhee infuses the graffiti research process with the semeotic and anthropoligical tools that are necessary for interpreting urban space. I highly recommend this book
Best Graphic Art Book of 2004  Jun 19, 2005
From my New York Press review of Stencil Pirates, 11/04 (vol. 17, issue 45):

A FEW YEARS AGO, while walking down a sparsely traveled block in my old Brooklyn neighborhood, I came across three-foot-tall, carefully rendered cursive on an otherwise blank red wall: "Cap'n Jazz" in silver spray-paint. I did a triple take. Who'd bother to apply the name of a little-known early-90s punk band from Chicago to a Brooklyn wall in 2001, and why? I didn't much care; those shimmering letters brought on a surge of memories from my years in DC punk; it was as if a long-lost friend or secret admirer had left me a note. Though "Cap'n Jazz" swiftly vanished under a fresh coat of paint, those same memories slip into mind every time I'm there, three years later-that block, to me, transformed.

The power of street art, namely stencils, to shape public space, and the ways in which it does so, is the subject of Chicago artist Josh MacPhee's Stencil Pirates, a handsome publication that both documents and casts a critical eye upon a thriving art form. Early on, MacPhee quotes artist Russell Howze: "Traditional art is usually a static experience... Most traditional art is found in galleries, chosen by someone else and viewed by a select group of people... Even when thousands of people see larger exhibits, traditional art's exposure is still limited by the price of admission at the door."

Stencils, however, to the joy of some and consternation of others, are the great equalizer: With the help of basic, affordable materials, the same work of art can reappear throughout a city, cities or countries, meeting with a broad audience and reception. Some stencils remain for months or years on a sidewalk or wall, insinuating themselves into a neighborhood's character and landscape. What prompts residents or city workers to paint over some and not others can be as intriguing as the work itself. (What causes some stencils to fade before others, on the other hand, is a simple matter of paint quality, which MacPhee discusses in the practical, informative "How-To File" section.)

MacPhee parses out Stencil Pirates according to several dozen themes. In "It's Official," he explores the influence of industrial stencils; in "Argentina," the revival of the stencil as a tool of communication and political expression after the country's 2001 economic collapse. Intentionally succinct in narrative and commentary, MacPhee devotes page after page of Pirates-quite a few of them full-color spreads-to more than 1000 images. Plenty of the work in Pirates, if noteworthy in message or placement, is rudimentary, skill-wise.

But just as much of it is gorgeous, sometimes awe-inspiring in its intricacy. "Are We Free Yet," a collaboration by JSO4 and Sevenist, is a painstakingly executed multicolor mural of telephone wires, tiny birds, two bright kites and a placid, curly head on a floral pillowcase. Upon the sleeper's torso, this text: "Only in my dreams is my memory restored, so I sleep all the time so I don't forget how 2 live." In an example of "stenciling as civic duty," artists Scout and Stain created moving color portraits of neighborhood children on abandoned buildings and boarded-over windows throughout decaying downtown Albany, as, according to Scout, "an offering to the people who live there."

One section presents snapshots of stenciled poetry-reproductions of well-known verse as well as stenciling as self-publishing. And all over, from Argentina to San Francisco, stencils have a vibrant history as public service announcement, whether it's "Dyke March 1996, Market & Castro, Saturday June 29, 7 p.m.," or markings from the 1989 Anti-Nuke Port Stencil Project, which organized a team of stencilers to create anti-nuke images that included their exact mileage from a proposed nuke-equipped Staten Island Navy base. Pirates shows that even a single word or phrase can adorn a wall, lovely, depending on factors such as placement or use of typography.

For MacPhee, all of this is "liberatory." Decrying the highly regulated state of public space in America as a forum where homogenous, calculated corporate messaging rules, MacPhee says that "encouraging people to think off the conveyor belt of work, shop, eat, sleep, work, shop, eat is downright revolutionary." Indeed, the book overflows with stencils that shout their message as loud as the paint allows. Other images are subtler, even cryptic. Anton van Dalen, who worked mostly in the 70s and 80s, shot for the subliminal, aiming for his stencils "to operate as traffic signs, you absorb the meaning before you even know it."

Of course, not every stencil artist is inhaling toxic fumes for the sake of art, political beliefs or to convey any particular message. Shepard Fairey has used his Andre the Giant stencil to launch an industry of "Obey"-branded clothing and posters; he also designed Radiohead's noxious "Hail to the Thief" stencil campaign. MacPhee explains corporate forays into stenciling as an attempt to garner street cred for their products-and of course, to move product. Even when corporate patrons have been revealed, the ensuing hubbub "is better exposure for their advertising than money could possibly buy."

MacPhee doesn't delve far into the history of stenciling; his focus is on modern-day work. He does, however, outline its past-from Egypt and China and Greece to the Soviet Union and Nicaragua, South Africa, Mexico. Over thousands of years, the basic technique of applying paint over a design cut out of a solid material has endured. The word "stencil" has its roots in the French estenceler, "to decorate with bright colors," which in turn comes from the Latin scintilla-"spark."
the most comprehensive stencil book to date!  Feb 4, 2005
highly recommended! this book is beyond your pretty picture book. the author's essays give an excellent overview of stencil graffiti, and his list of bibliography and end notes provide the best starting point ive found for further research.

it's missing one star simply because i find tristan manco's "stencil graffiti" more interesting in terms of the art work selection.

these 2 books are essential for stencil graffiti lovers!


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