How to Create a Banksy Stencil

By Tim Hesse ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • 11- by 17-inch paper
  • Art board
  • Yard stick
  • Permanent pen
  • Craft knife with snap-off blades
  • Tarp
  • Adhesive spray
  • Hard squeegee
  • Pizza box or cardboard box
  • Gaffer's tape
  • Matte black spray paint
Learn to make stencils in the Banksy style.

Though stencil graffiti began during the Second World War, stenciling as a technique dates back to the beginnings of human art. Along with contemporaries like Shepard Fairey and Random von Nothaus, graffiti artist Banksy has re-popularized the use of stencils for public art. Banksy often combines original drawings and text with re-appropriated works of photojournalism to make political and humorous statements. Follow the steps below to make your own Banksy-inspired stencil.

Draw or photocopy your image and any text onto an 11- by 17-inch piece of paper.

Draw a 17- by 23-inch rectangle on the art board with a yardstick and permanent pen, then cut it out with your craft knife. Place this smaller piece of board on the tarp and spray it with adhesive. Flip your drawing over and spray the back of it with adhesive, then wait 30 seconds for the glue to begin to dry.

Place the drawing glue-side-down onto the art board and center it so you have a three inch border on all sides. Press the two pieces together with the palms of your hands. Rub across the drawing with a hard squeegee to flatten it completely and encourage the glue to adhere strongly. Wait for the glue to dry.

Cut through the outlines of the black parts of your drawing with the craft knife, pressing hard enough to cut the board below. Leave narrow ligaments to connect independent shapes and ensure the stability of the stencil as a whole.

Find an empty pizza box and use it as a folder to carry your stencil. If you don't have a pizza box, disassemble a file box, fold it in half and trim it to the right size with the craft knife.

Find a place to apply your stencil and affix it to the surface with gaffer's tape. Shake a can of matte black spray paint repeatedly for 10 seconds, then spritz the inside of your cardboard folder to start the flow of paint.

Hold the spray can eight inches away from the stencil and spray back-and-forth across the cut-out areas in sweeping motions. Try not to spray any paint outside the edges of the stencil. Use as little paint as possible to avoid causing drips. Remove the stencil from the wall and place it into its cardboard folder.

Tip

Consider applying your stencil to your own home or vehicle, or to a canvas, wood block or large sheet of archival paper. United States copyright law protects works of parody, comment and criticism. If you decide to base your design on a copyrighted image, add an ironic twist, as in the stencil where Banksy replaced a terrorist's grenade with a bouquet of flowers.

Warning

Remember that stenciling on public or private property without permission is a form of vandalism, regardless of how creative your intentions. To avoid breaking the law, make artistic statements with the stencil design itself rather than the locations where you spray it.

About the Author

Tim Hesse has been writing professionally since 2000. He has written and edited for a variety of print and online publications, including Salon.com Tech Tips, FOXSports and Automated Homefinder. Hesse enjoys covering music, film, the open-source movement, education and the arts. He studied cinema and television production at the University of Southern California.