Gerlof Smit

Amazing, amazing work. Gerlof Smit is a wonderful artist--who stretches the idea of silhouettes to a new, fresh place. He infuses them with a new vision, a modern image--mixing them with photography, or using them in a way to build a community, express a couple's life through a distinct portrait. He cut an entire village's portrait, "Everyone from Schingen"--of each and every person--Here is what he says about that:

Last year I spent quite some time on a bus to San Francisco and waxed lyrical about all the different silhouettes around me. Capturing it all is hard when you're sitting on a bus, but I live in Holland where I'm also surrounded by lots of beautiful silhouettes. So why not make cut-outs of everyone from Schingen, the village where I have lived for about 30 years? In mid-June I dropped a letter in everyone's mailbox. In this letter I explained what I was planning to do, and a week later I rang the doorbells of all the scattered houses and farms, drank many a cup of coffee, and took digital photos of every single inhabitant. I started working on the cut-outs for the Schingen project around mid-September. When you cut out a portrait in A4 size, the hair really shows up in the silhouette and you can easily spend two hours on the portrait. But it does give you the opportunity to become fully absorbed in a person's portrait. You notice that the person grows on you and becomes increasingly nicer. Each time I finished a few portraits I put them on my website and the subjects of the portrait could see themselves on the internet. By early November, everyone was cut out and I invited the entire village into the recently restored church of Schingen. I had a 30 ft. long table set up in the church. All the silhouettes were displayed on the table in three neat rows and everyone was able to see their silhouette in the original for the first time. The cut-outs were exhibited in the church on two weekends. I had already announced in a letter that everyone would receive their own silhouette as a gift. After the close of the exhibition, all Schingen inhabitants took their own silhouette home with them, during which the village surprised me with a few original gifts. Giving away these portraits was a small happening, and the responses were overwhelming, and sometimes even emotional. All the silhouettes can still be viewed on my site: You can also see what everyone's name is, where they were born and how long they've been living in Schingen (the youngest inhabitant is 0 years old, the oldest is 81-year-old Ale, who has also lived in Schingen for 81 years).

Smit tried to cut the entire night staff of a McDonalds in Texas and was stopped. The work he did was sublime. What I like about this work is that his cutting reminds me of the work I do in illustrator, the cutting of hair, the curves and interpretation that happens when one is drawing with vectors. But, his work is inspired and fresh. I think he is now one of my new heros. Move aside Shepard Fairey!