CUT-OUT KING ED ROTH

SINCE 2004 ARTIST ED ROTH HAS CARVED – LITERALLY – OUT A NICHE IN THE DESIGN WORLD WITH HIS PORTFOLIO OF NATURALISTIC AND QUIRKY STENCILS.  YOU CAN SEE THEM IN HOTELS AND PRIVATE HOMES, AS WELL AS IN THE STENCIL 101 SERIES OF BOOKS HE’S CREATED FOR KEEN HOME DECORATORS AND CRAFTERS. THE 42-YEAR-OLD BROOKLYNITE TALKED TO DIRTY ABOUT HOW HE CAME TO CREATE HIS COMPANY, STENCIL1, OTHER STENCIL ARTISTS, AND WHAT HE’S GOT COMING UP.
TEXT Kirsten Matthew
PHOTOGRAPHY Paul Bruno

 

 

DIRTY: WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

ED ROTH: New Jersey

 

D: HOW DID YOU COME TO BE INTERESTED IN DESIGN?

ER: I think, growing up, I was into art due to my parents doing home art projects, crafty things. As a teenager I was really into thrift store furniture and revamping it. I was a pop culture junky: a huge New Wave head. I bought a lot of Japanese magazines. That all stimulated my interest. But, I graduated college with a degree in psychology. I though I was going to be a shrink. A friend was leaving a design studio in Soho and I got the job assisting there. I was only at the studio a year and then I went back and studied graphic design, animation, interactivity and other things. I interned at MOMA in San Francisco and I took on design jobs just to learn.

 

D: SO HOW DID THE STENCILS COME ABOUT?

ER: Years later I moved back to New York and I was working in multimedia and I opened an art gallery [Who Do We Appreciate, in Williamsburg] in Brooklyn with a friend. We did a lot of street artists and that led to my stencil company, Stencil1, being created in 2004. I had been working for a lot of ad agencies, but I really wasn’t happy. I needed to do my own thing. I wanted to do a book. I decided it should be a stencil book, with actual stencils in it.

 

D: DID YOU GET A BOOK DEAL STRAIGHT AWAY?

ER: No. I never know how to do things. Everything I do, I look back and think, ‘those were funny steps to take.’ I made 50 stencils, had them cut, bound them in a book then took it to publishers. They didn’t know how to make it work, so I built a website and sold the stencils individually. Years later Chronicle and I got together and we published my book. That first book [Stencil 101: Make Your Mark with 25 Reusable Stencils and Step-by-Step Instructions] continues to sell and be reprinted.

 

 

D: DID YOU GET A BOOK DEAL STRAIGHT AWAY?

ER: No. I never know how to do things. Everything I do, I look back and think, ‘those were funny steps to take.’ I made 50 stencils, had them cut, bound them in a book then took it to publishers. They didn’t know how to make it work, so I built a website and sold the stencils individually. Years later Chronicle and I got together and we published my book. That first book [Stencil 101: Make Your Mark with 25 Reusable Stencils and Step-by-Step Instructions] continues to sell and be reprinted.

 

D: DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC.

ER: It lies somewhere between interior décor and street art. I try to balance that line because I want to offer what I like: interior design, pattern, nature. I was the only one, five years ago, doing my look. Now ones similar to mine are popping up. And I’m seeing more openness to it. You don’t just have to paint a wall a solid color anymore. It’s about making your home and space yours.

 

D: WHAT’S THE MOST INGENUOUS USE OF ONE OF YOUR STENCILS THAT YOU’VE SEEN?

ER: In the new book, due out in the fall, I have a barber who cuts my designs into people’s hair using stencils. He sprays white spray in your hair and then cuts away anything that is not white. That’s probably my favorite right now.

 

D: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE STENCIL ARTIST?

ER: C215. I think he’s amazing. He travels around the world and does portraits. There’s some on walls around my neighborhood, which is nice. He cuts up the faces with all these curvy lines and a lot of his portraits are of old people. And, of course, I have to mention Banksy. His stuff is so insanely witty, so smart.

 

 

D: YOU’VE DONE A HANDFUL OF WALL INSTALLATIONS IN THE ACE HOTEL RECENTLY. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

ER: I do rooms there. They have hundreds of rooms, so as they develop floors I stencil them. What’s nice is that I propose each concept to them. They fit with my aesthetic: they take a very classic look and inject street vibe into it. They have a little tongue-in-cheek to them. I did a grizzly bear in a very small room. He’s tall, and on the wall behind guests when they’re sitting at the desk, kind of looming. Another was of one of my obsessions: Dolly, the sheep that was cloned. I also just painted a 100-room hotel in Long Island City. I made the biggest stencils I’ve ever made. We did the Rockettes, a taxi in motion, and a blues singer.

 

D: WHAT’S COMING UP FOR STENCIL1?

ER: There’s a new book I just whipped up with Chronicle: Stencil 201. It’s out in the fall and will have 25 plastic stencils, ways to use them, and guest artists. And I’m working on another one now too. I also just put 75 new designs on the website [www.stencil1.com]. I like to keep my lines fresh. Some are smaller and crafty, others are for t-shirts and walls.

 

D: WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?

ER: I’m always working! I like to go upstate, to the movies. I love to eat. My favorite restaurant is Five Leaves in my neighborhood. It’s so pretty.

 


STENCIL1.COM

 

 

 






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