"Each silhouette is cut entirely freehand, by eye using only paper and scissors. These are not the large traced silhouettes which are often produced by kindergarten or primary school teachers where a child sits next to a lamp and has the shadow of their face projected onto a sheet of paper. Silhouettes are a form of miniature portrait art cut in exacting detail of the live subject in only a few minutes.
As far as I have researched, there are only around twenty silhouette artists in America, about six in England and I have not been able to find any in Europe. To my knowledge, I am now the only silhouette artist in Australia. For many years S. John Ross, now deceased, worked at Sydney’s Luna Park and the Agricultural show circuit around Australia. You may even remember having your silhouette done by him at The Royal Easter Show! There is a tribute to him on Wikipedia.
As silhouettes are rare, it is not surprising that many people have not even seen how a silhouette is cut. Often they are expecting a tracing to be done or think that a silhouette is some kind of photographic process. It is absolutely fascinating to watch a silhouette artist at work and be amazed at how quickly a likeness emerges from the black paper. While people watch as I cut, they may gain an appreciation not just of the finished art but also of its actual creation. In 1982, I had my own silhouette cut at Disneyland and my own fascination eventually led me to become a silhouette artist too."