About Stencil1: Brooklyn-based graphic designer Ed Roth founded Stencil1 in 2004. Many, including Martha Stewart, The New York Times, ReadyMade, and Country Living, have praised his iconic, reusable stencils. Stencil1 stencils can be used to paint walls, T-shirts, furniture—anything you want!
In 2008, Chronicle Books released Ed Roth’s first book, Stencil 101: Make Your Mark with 25 Reusable Stencils and Step-by-Step Instructions and a second book in 2009, Stencil 101 Décor, which contains ten oversized repeat pattern stencils for walls, furniture, floors, and more. Additional titles with Chronicle Books include Stencil 101 Stationery, Stencil 201, Stencil Style 101 and The Stencil 101 Journal. More is in the works!
About Ed Roth: Ed Roth is one of those artistic do it alls. He’s a graphic artist, stencil maker, animator, and former gallerist. He’s like a design compass that is continually pointing toward the next trend. In fact, not only did Roth live in Williamsburg in the 90s, before anyone dared cross that bridge, but he owned an office and gallery on Grand Street long before the fancy shops—Paul Smith, Tracy Feith—and restaurants moved in. His gallery, Who Do We Appreciate, was what got Roth into the stencil game. “I think it exposed me to a lot of street art,” he says, referencing his graffiti and street art-inspired stencils. “At the gallery, we’d have affordable art shows and sell art for under $100. It had a nice little following at the time and those artists have gone on to be much more well known.” Dalek and Mike Giant are two such names who have shown their work there.
Affordable art is at the core of Roth as an artist. He cites his father as an influence. “My dad was pretty creative with making things out of nothing, and I always find that interesting. He would find something and start to make a sculpture in the yard. Or if there was leftover paint, he would paint a weird mural in the garage on the wall; things like that. I like affordable art. I’ve always been drawn to that.”
Years later as a graphic artist, Roth would look to design books on street art. “I noticed that none of these books about stencils really had stencils in them,” he says. “So I thought why don’t I do a book of stencils for people who want to try it out.” Roth’s first book of stencils, Stencil 101, was released last year. It’s a playful stencil portfolio that includes images like record players and poodles to sumo wrestlers and deer.
With his stencils, Roth isn’t just looking to use them in conventional places, for instance, on a wall. “I’m always interested in where else it can be applied. Why can’t it be applied on a shirt or furniture? I don’t like to think about the rules. That’s why I don’t make products. I make a stencil and people can paint that where they think it will be fun. I always like to remember that I design a tool for people to use it their way.”
For Roth’s title, Stencil 101 Décor, patterns are the focus. “There is strength in repeating an image over and over,” he says. “And it’s a nice reference to pop art too. Since I have a strong interest in decor and interior design, I aimed to make this book more about décor. I love wallpaper, especially vintage wallpaper. I found the repetition a nice graphic challenge.” Inspiration for these stencils, he says, came from vintage tiles, naturally occurring organic patterns, fashion textiles, and urban landscapes. “I wanted to make designs that make a bold statement and were easy to use.”
In addition to naming Andy Warhol as an influence, Roth also mentions monochromatic sculptor Louise Nevelson. “In the fourth grade, my art teacher told us about her work and about her eccentricity,” he explains. “I love that she took these scraps of wood and compiled them all together to make this new beautiful thing. I think she was like a recycler. And when my teacher showed us her picture and those crazy false eyelashes, I really liked her.”
Ed currently lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he runs Stencil1 and works on his personal stencil artwork. He consults for various brands, creating product or producing events using stencils and graffiti guerrilla marketing. He is currently further developing new products for his line Stencil1 and has other publications on the horizon,