Asked about his technique, Banksy said:
"I use whatever it takes. Sometimes that just means drawing a moustache on a girl's face on some billboard, sometimes that means sweating for days over an intricate drawing. Efficiency is the key."
Stencils are traditionally hand drawn or printed onto sheets of acetate or card, before being cut out by hand. Because of the secretive nature of Banksy's work and identity, it is uncertain what techniques he uses to generate the images in his stencils, though it is assumed he uses computers for some images due to the photocopy nature of much of his work.
He mentions in his book, Wall and Piece, that as he was starting to do graffiti, he was always too slow and was either caught or could never finish the art in the one sitting. So he devised a series of intricate stencils to minimise time and overlapping of the colour.
There is dispute in the street art world over the legitimacy of stencils, with many artists criticising their use as "cheating."
The first pieces of stencil graffiti art appeared in the US in the late 1960's. In the beginning, they were mainly social, political and anti-war slogans. The use of provocative images started later on and has been the trend to this day. At present, Banksy is the most famous artist in this category with his works appearing in various countries from around the world.
Banksy and other famous leading artists such as Blek le Rat create their stencil graffiti art primarily on the walls of public and private buildings and other structures. The images can appear on large moving vehicles such as trains and boats, but this is now fairly rare. Buy Banksy Art.
The graffiti stencil art pieces can be small or massive. Often, the artist draws inspiration from the particular building, wall and the surroundings. One recent example is the Banksy Child Sewing Union Jack Bunting. The image appeared on the wall of a Poundland chain store covered with bunting for the celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in the UK in May 2012.
Stencil art techniques are extensively used by graffiti artists because of their practical application. The artist has all the time in the world to create the graffiti stencils in his/her studio while the actual graffiti piece is done fairly quickly. The image is drawn on cardboard, acetate or paper and then cut out by hand. It has been rumored that Banksy and many of his colleagues currently create computer images which are then printed on the stencil medium, but given the secrecy in which they work, we cannot know this for sure.
Once the drawing is on the respective medium, it is then cut out by hand so that the actual stencil is created. Then it is placed where the actual drawing will be, typically on a wall. The artist applies spray paint or more rarely roll-on paint over the stencil and this is how the image is created. For more complex pieces, multiple layers of stencils are used. In this way, the artist can add more color and depth to the image.
The stencil graffiti appear on walls quite fast. This allows Banksy and his fellow artists to share their viewpoint and convey their message exactly as they want without risking being interrupted by the police and leaving their works unfinished. In this way, we can enjoy really thoughtful and memorable art pieces. Buy Banksy Stencils.
The popularity of stencil graffiti art is growing with some of the works on walls surviving for decades and becoming local attractions. It is a good idea to follow the works of Banksy and his fellow artists closely as you never know when they may be destroyed.