One Artist is Getting Creative During the COVID-19 Quarantine

One man, silhouette artist Karl Johnson, is using 21st-century technology to create 18th-century artwork for his clients

Like so many, Karl Johnson had to figure out a way to reinvent his business Cut Arts Inc. in the time of COVID.

Karl has been traveling extensively for 30 years, appearing at live events all over North America to create original, hand-cut silhouette portraits just as itinerate artists have been doing for over 300 years. In less than two minutes and using only a pair of scissors and his trained eye, Karl can cut out a subject’s exact likeness from black paper while they pose in profile. However, during the current pandemic, Karl had to find a way to continue working and feed his family.

Enter Zoom. Now, thanks to this new technology, Karl can visit clients anywhere in the world while never leaving his studio. Up until a month ago, Karl had to arrange a series of events in a particular city, then fly there. Now, thanks to Zoom, people from all over the world are able to visit Karl virtually in his studio near Los Angeles, California.

He creates the original, hand-cut silhouette portraits exactly as he always has. The subject simply sits in front of him in profile while Karl freehand cuts out their likeness. But now, the entire family can watch from their computer in the comfort of their own home. The silhouettes are mailed to the customer after their appointment.

People living in colonial America who wanted an image of their child but could not afford a painting may have commissioned a silhouette artist to cut out a likeness of their loved one using paper and scissors.

The invention of the camera signaled the end of the silhouette as a widespread form of portraiture. However, it is still practiced by a very small number of artists today.

Karl Johnson is considered by many to be the premier silhouette artist working today, something he attributes, in part, to having vision in only one eye. Karl was born being able to see only from his right eye. Not having binocular vision forces Karl to judge the distance and shape of an object by examining its shadow. This allows Karl to capture an image in shadow in an uncanny way. He has been creating these images since childhood, having learned the skill from his father when he was 10 years old.

Karl’s work hangs in the homes of many Hollywood notables including Jennifer Garner, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Leo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lopez and others.

He’s not quite sure if this new way of doing things will continue after the pandemic is over but, for now, it seems to be a good way for Karl to keep this extremely rare form of portraiture viable.

CONTACT:
Cut Arts – Lauren Johnson
805-405-8163
lauren@cutarts.com

www.cutarts.com

Source: Cut Arts Inc.