I went through a silhouette phase when I was a kid. My Mother, when she found a stack of them in a box in her closet in the late 1990s assured me this was normal behavior for a young man. Why did I do it? Well someone was throwing out an old slide projector that I pulled from the trash and we did not own a camera, so naturally like any other kid could do, I had people stand in front of a paper trash bag taped to the wall while I traced their shadow and then proceeded to cut it out and gift it to them. Was I a young silhouette genius? Not from what I saw, in fact I was pretty poor, but I loved it. Plus it has inspired in me a lifetime appreciation for silhouettes.
Seeing Olly Moss’s book Silhouettes from Popular Culture reminds me again of the magic of silhouettes. How a simple tracing can capture so much of the character of a person. Of course with Moss’s book they are all pop icons that are instantly recognizable and with me it was all impatient friends and family members who had sat for me repeated times and had no interest in hauling home this poorly cut out “work of art”.
I have been thumbing through the book at night and it is a remarkable work. Each silhouette is almost instantly recognizable and the uniformity of style makes each page a fun little test as I try and see how quickly I can identify who is on the page. It is satisfying and inspiring enough that I am thinking of digging out my old projector and seeing if any skill has developed in the years since I last created some silhouettes. I think that if I do I am going to be very disappointed. The bar is very high…
Silhouettes from Popular Culture [via] Amazon