Ed Roth has been Sharpie’s partner in crime for a LONG time and we LOVE him for it–not to mention the exclusive stencils he made JUST for us a few years ago–and couldn’t believe we hadn’t already interviewed this Sharpie stenciling genius!
So without further ado, allow me the immense pleasure of introducing you to Mr. Ed Roth, the man behind Stencil1 and the unofficial Stained By Sharpie commercial
Tell me about yourself! Where are you from? Interests? Likes? Dislikes? Pet Peeves?
My name is Ed Roth. I grew up in Northern New Jersey, 20 minutes from NYC. I had crafty parents, you know, in that suburban way. Mom did ceramics, Dad painted murals on the garage walls with left over house paint, etc…With their influence and being a bored suburban teen, I would raid thrift stores and buy old furniture and refinish it- paints, stains, faux finishes, you name it as well as up-cycling clothes. I was the kid that wrote his favorite band names on his Converse with, yep, a black Sharpie!
Personally, I live for design and art and have a need to be creative. After working for decades for tv networks and ad agencies as an art director and animator, I then started my own design company, Stencil1, in 2004 in Brooklyn, NY.
Likes? Well, I like design with soul. Clever street art. Customized belongings. Things with meaning.
Dislikes? Generic cookie cutter spaces. Overpriced clothes.
Pet peeves? Overly designed items or spaces. Good design doesn’t have to be over the top.
What inspires you and your work? I usually find inspiration in my design work from things outside my field such as music, a trip to the museum, being in nature, traveling , vintage shopping, being in Brooklyn. For example, a trip to the Museum of Natural History will inspire the need to make an octopus stencil!
How would you describe your style? Eclectic. I’m all over the place but have always liked nostalgia, nature, pattern, urban imagery, graffiti and pop art. Hence the range of stencil designs on the site!
You have done it all, including working as a graphic artist, animator and gallerist; as well as what we love you for, your stencils- what is it about stencils that really jazz you up?
How flattering. Thank you. I love perpetuating the art of stenciling. I love their history – their use for political outcry, their highly decorative use in castles of kings. It’s a tool without clear definition. It’s also so utilitarian, it allows someone who may not feel comfortable drawing to make art and be creative, it provides satisfaction. I love seeing how everyone who uses one of my stencils will have a different end result. Love it.
How did you get started? In late 2004, I was needing a break from ad agencies . I had run a successful art gallery in Williamsburg with friends and wanted to continue doing something art related. I wanted to design a book. I did just that. I made a prototype book of 50 stencils. I shopped it around to publishers who liked it but weren’t sure how to produce it. I decided to just sell the stencils individually so I built a website (my other background is web design). I got press right away on CoolHunting.com, then the NYTimes, then Blick Art Materials called and wanted to carry Stencil1. I have figured it out along the way, slowly growing the company, adding designs, adding art supplies. Then I started making books with Chronicle Books. We released Stencil 101 in 2008. Since then, we released Stencil 101 Décor, Stencil Stationery, Stencil 101 Journal, and now Stencil 201. Next year you will see Stencil 101 Style. I continue to release new designs on Stencil1.com
Your stencils are super trendy and, not only hit the basics when you think of a “stencil,” they also have a cool edginess to them; how do you come up with new ideas?
I think sometimes it’s simply what I like but also I have always been a trend watcher.
Do you have a personal soft spot for one of your designs in particular?
I have a few favs. I love my 7 foot grizzly bear! I recreated him in a small size for Stencil 201, this way he can fit right on your shirt! My Stencil Graffiti Mini Sets are also some of my favorites since they were some of the first designs I put out and I think define Stencil1. People seem to like these since they are smaller and super easy to use.
How do you use Sharpie markers in your work?
Well, With the release of Stained fabric markers, I am like a pig in the mud, haha. I do a lot of t-shirt design work, many of my stencils are really designed with apparel in mind. Sharpie has made customizing t-shirts way easier with these new fabric markers. While painting is great, everyone can use a marker with perfect results. The tips of these markers are more brush like with a point so you can stencil into fine details or fill in larger areas easily. I used the markers at by events for people to stencil with, amazing results. Make sure you watch the video!
Favorite Sharpie? Why?
I guess now it would be a black Stained fabric marker because it’s basic, multi-surface and allows me to customize t-shirts, canvas sneakers, anything really.
Best part of your “day job” and if you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
Well, the best part of being the Stencil1 owner is getting to create creative tools that people use to make things with. I love seeing what people make, it feels like you provided someone some fun.
If not this, I would still have to be creative. Textile designer? Landscape architect?
If you could have one super power what would it be and why?
Fun question! Maybe to spray paint out of my wrist like Spiderman throws webs!
What trends do you see making it big in 2012/ what are you pumped about in 2012 ( in the art world, in design, whatever)?
Trends for 2012 – I think customizing your wares and space is a big movement. The quest for authenticity. I am very excited about 2012 as I am reaching out to do a lot of collaborative work. I will not only be introducing more stencils, art tools and supplies but also working with companies to create apparel, décor, and home items.
Tell me about the video and background on the event !!
The video here was shot the day of the official book launch for my new book Stencil 201. I always have a DIY event during my book signing so people can be creative. I partnered with Etsy to have their craft nite coincide with the signing at Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO. I tested the project at my studio. I cut up canvas into patches and provided Stained by Sharpie markers with stencils from Stencil 201 as well as some other Stencil1 designs. Some even brought their own canvas bags and t-shirts to customize. As you will see, the crowd really enjoyed it!
EXCLUSIVE Sharpie perk alert! Be sure to LIKE Stencil1 on Facebook to receive the special discount code exclusively for Sharpie lovers… AND for 20% off be sure to join his mailing list (scroll down and its on the left!)!!