Maryland Wedding Artist Takes Us Back in Time with Silhouette Artistry
By: Kimberly Dean and Lauren Muney
It only takes 90 seconds to go back in time…
And for that 90 seconds the side of your face is all that Maryland wedding artist, Lauren Muney, cares about; its amazing shapes, delightful curves, and fascinating angles guide her scissors to cut an exact replica of your profile.
Sitting for a silhouette is a very personal experience
When your silhouette is complete, Lauren presents you with your own elegant portrait created with nothing but a pair of scissors to paper. In twenty years, you’ll be able to look at and think to yourself, “yep, that’s still me.”
This is why silhouette portraiture is making a comeback, and it’s why Lauren has championed that comeback so vigorously and passionately.
Although, according to Lauren,
“silhouettes never left our culture, even when photography was invented, and everyone loves them: brides, parents, guests… everyone finds them charming, detailed, and perfect for keepsakes.”
No tracing. No drawing. No shadows, No machines. Simply scissors to paper while looking at her subject. This is what “freehand” means; the scissors do all the ‘drawing.’
Starting with a blank piece of paper, in almost the blink of an eye, there will be a cut silhouette revealed… one that was hiding inside the paper all along.
Today, more couples are adding silhouette portraits to their weddings due to the fact that it’s such a unique, nostalgic and personal experience that guests can all enjoy, including the couple.
The silhouette “sittings” bring with them a rare live participatory experience while also resulting in a classic keepsake. All in all, the sitter feels a distinct connection to his or her past.
It started in an antique store…
Lauren first developed the idea to try cutting silhouettes after seeing an old silhouette in an antique store. She realized how rare and expensive these old silhouettes were and so decided to try one for herself. Being an artist, painter, illustrator, and graphic designer… Lauren already had a knack for art and dexterity.
Using scissors freehand brought its challenges, but she practiced for over a year and read old books by silhouette masters from the 1700s and 1800s. Finally, she felt ready to debut.
Now, ten years later, she’s well-known and even awarded in the United States, Canada, and now becoming well-known “down under” in Australia. But the process is much more than just scissors to paper…
When working in crowds, every two minutes Lauren has to develop an intimate connection with a new subject, whether that’s a bouncy child, a calm and collected adult, or a nervous bride to be. Silhouette portraiture requires an ability to hyper-focus on the shapes and curves of the person, while blocking out any energies that may distract her. With practice and time, both her artwork itself and her abilities to focus on countless people within just a few hours time have evolved immensely.
Today, Lauren is one of the few silhouette artists in the United States, perhaps in the world.
“In present day, where so much is done digitally, it’s nice to have something actually created by hand. It’s unthinkable to some that in the age of technology so much CAN and SHOULD be done by hand…”
When asked about taking time to really hone the skills and practice this craft, or any craft, Lauren replied,
“As long as we have artists who keep growing as artists and perfecting their craft over time, then it [silhouette artistry] will continue to grow. Too many people in today’s world don’t take the time to do work on their craft. Instead, there are people who churn out cheap portraits, which could be mediocre. When highly detailed work is downgraded to mediocre, then art trends fail…
We need artists willing to put in the persistence, practice, and patience to push forward for quality hand-work to continue. Then it stops being a trend; it is elevated to ‘classic’.”
Whether Lauren is exhibiting at a festival, corporate event, museum, gala, or wedding event… she often draws a crowd to watch her cut silhouettes. The more shapes in a profile, the more people like them, too. Up-done hair and interesting hats make for “keeper” silhouettes.
For a woman who used to perform on stilts, attended to clown college, cut cigarettes with a bull whip, and even performed as Charlie Chaplin in China… she ends our interview with:
“Silhouettes are one of the calmest things I’ve ever done. Thank goodness silhouette portraiture was never fully lost, because I am helping people find it again. And it’s exciting when people experience the magic of our handcrafted past.”