Since 2002, your old-school website for all things stencils. is a home for 1000s of photographs, videos, and more. This site has been DIY from day one. All donations/support directly pay the bills for hosting and updating this site.

Donate any amount.

Other ways to support this site (beyond submitting pics, videos, exhibit info, etc.):

Stencil Archive at 20: Josh MacPhee

Stencil Pirates
On the streets in the Mission Dist., SF

Over 20 years ago, before the Stencil Archive project appeared online, a few Bay Area folks kept bringing up another photographer and flicks collector from Chicago. Josh MacPhee had been cutting and painting stencils and making zines with his photos for years, but his main passion was the Celebrate People’s History poster project. He came through San Francisco often, tabling for Justseeds and CPH, and was known to take walks and snap photos of Anarchist circle-As, stencils, and other interesting tags and markings.

Eventually, Josh and I met and started taking walks to shoot art in the streets. He had a digital camera before I did, had more internet awareness than I did, and was extremely generous in sharing tips, knowledge, and how-tos. My enthusiasm also led to his letting me tag along and help out for a few art projects. This period of total openness to skills, tools, and methods set the standard for my future work and projects. When Stencil Archive started, Josh gave me table space at the Anarchist Book Fair to promote the project, became one of the first artists to submit work, and asked me to write an essay for his book “Stencil Pirates” in 2005.

Stencil Archive recently asked MacPhee to reflect back to the heady days of the early 2000s, before the term “street art” was coined by the money men, and he replied:

The early 2000s was a utopian moment for street art. The commercialization (and art-world-ification) of the previous wave of street art was so complete by that point that we didn’t really even see ourselves as connected to Haring or Holzer or Basquiat, which let us focus on using the medium as a tool for communication and experimentation, rather than chasing the “success stories” of the 1980s. It felt like there were few barriers to participation, which was great and led to a diversity of voices, and in turn a broad audience for the work.

Unfortunately by the mid to late 2000s the art became a victim of its own success, quickly moving from a marginal activity onto the front page of the New York Times. Sadly fewer and fewer people were doing it because they had something to say, and instead saw it as an easy on-ramp to brand visibility and a gallery career. Since both of those are boring as fuck, quickly the broad audience evaporated, and by 2010 almost everyone invested in street art was just that, invested in street art.

With expensive art collections they needed a financial return from, the purveyors of street art generated an endless and exhausting parade of events, exhibitions, and press that promoted the art as a money maker more than something with any social value. Yawn. Hopefully we’re seeing the last demand for “braaaaains" from these zombies, and soon a new generation can retake the streets and do something interesting again.

Never short on opinions and critique, and always true to his beliefs, Josh has continued to put amazing art, history, and rad projects into a mainstream that continues to consume the sharp edges of culture. The following paragraphs detail Josh’s current work as well as summarizing his past projects that included those amazing photographs of the art in the streets from that “utopian moment” several decades ago.

Josh MacPhee is a designer, artist, and archivist. He is a founding member of both the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and Interference Archive, a public collection of cultural materials produced by social movements based in Brooklyn, NY ( MacPhee is the author and editor of numerous publications, including Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now and Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Culture. He has organized the Celebrate People's History poster series since 1998 and has been designing book covers for many publishers for the past decade ( His most recent book is An Encyclopedia of Political Record Labels (Common Notions, 2019), a compendium of information about political music and radical cultural production.

20th Anniversary of Stencil Archive

Happy 20th Stencil Archive
Logo Guy art by Halsey Chiat; background poster by the Yippies; gloves by Indecline.

Has it been 20 years?! Yes, it has. So much has changed, yet some things remain the same. Social media has eclipsed sites like the Stencil Archive, but nowhere else has quite the curated collection of all things stencils. From a clunky part of the HappyFeet project, where pages were made in Photoshop on a Mac clone, to possibly the fourth Drupal version, the fundamental core values of Stencil Archive are still "create, have fun, share, and dare to change the world". 

And, like the 2002 email list notice says... the obsession continues!

April 1, 2012 Post

I just pulled up this old HappyFeet Communique email, dated April 2, 2002. Thought it would be fun to repost, especially since I haven't really celebrated this site's 10th Anniversary.

Prior to putting the photos on this web address, my blog hosted Photoshop-created albums of the early archives (some photos from that era, tiny postage stamps to save size, still exist on to this day). It got too big for the blog, so I moved it over here.

This site's mission is still simple, and pretty much the sadme as the original concept. Interestingly, Phase II began without my prompting it. People found the site and began to submit on their own. It was a pleasant surprise to see people get involved (early contributors included: Chris Stain, Josh MacPhee, TXMX, ecce, Klutch, Logan Hicks, Lord Hao, Jef Aerosol, Claude Moller, Adam5100, Peat Wollaeger and many more).

---> world premiere launch April 1, 2002


Since 1995 stencil art has been a HappyFeet obsession. Now the obsession is online for the world to share. Our mission is simple: create a tighter stencil art community and watch it grow. Stencils from around the world are posted on here, and will be added frequently.

How to/FAQ will be updated frequently as well.

In Phase II, submission pics will be accepted and posted.

John Fekner Interviewed

Fekner Decay

While researching stencil history for the "Stencil Nation" book back around 2004, John Fekner's word works in NYC loomed large. I contacted him, and we had a great discussion. After talking about his own stencil work, Fekner helped flesh out the timeline for early art in the streets. This conversation also sent me to San Francisco's Main Library to research other artists who experimented with negative space. A major highlight of my decades of stencil fun was painting one of Fekner's cut-out stencils around SF.

Juxtapoz recently spoke with Fekner, who is still as outspoken as ever. Here is their blurb for the podcast epsiode:

John Fekner is both a historian and pivotal artists who transformed the ways we looked at street art and graffiti. You know him for his work in the Bronx in the 1970s and early '80s, the massive stencil works that read BROKEN PROMISES and DECAY, painted upon what almost appeared to be the post-apocalyptic landscape of the city. His career started in the late 1960s, but found a voice working amongst the unique artists of the era that transformed the way we looked at the art on the streets.

New Photos - Mostly North America

Happy 20th stencil-versary, Peat!

Thanks to: Esmeralda, Jaime Rojo/Brooklyn Street Art, @Emily_Lykos, @GraffitiRadical, u/Feeling-Newspaper-25, u/spotinama, u/not_the_zodiac, u/sideshow_bab, u/PureGuava86, @StreetArtUtopia, Josiah

Spinning: Robert Plant & Allison Krauss; Art Blakey (TJM)

The Mission, SF

Over on Valencia St., SF

Eclair in SF

fnnch on a hill

One in Argentina

One in Canada

One in Mexico

One in Sacramento, CA

Getting brown in Kentucky

One in NYC

One in Portland, OR

Two in Texas

One by Joe Iurato

One by Praxis

One by Peat Eyez

One by Shepard Fairey

New Photos - An EU Back and Forth


Thanks to: Jaime Rojo/Brooklyn Street Art, @Emily_Lykos, @GraffitiRadical, u/Feeling-Newspaper-25, u/spotinama, u/not_the_zodiac, u/sideshow_bab, u/PureGuava86, @StreetArtUtopia

Spinning: Robert Plant & Allison Krauss

>NEW< Cyprus

Pro-Ukraine from the Rebel Bear

Pro-Ukraine in the UK

Pro-Ukraine in Prague

Pro-Ukraine in Russia

Two in Berlin

Two in Hamburg

One in Poland

One in France

Pro-Ukraine in Norway

Two in Italy

An Aerosol Pollution Long Read

Aerosol pollution: Destabilizing Earth’s climate and a threat to health

by Conrad Fox on 3 March 2022
Mongabay (direct link, with photos and schematic)

  • Aerosols are fine particulates that float in the atmosphere. Many are natural, but those haven’t increased or decreased much over the centuries. But human-caused aerosols — emitted from smokestacks, car exhausts, wildfires, and even clothes dryers — have increased rapidly, largely in step with greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.
  • Aerosol pollution kills 4.2 million people annually, 200,000 in the U.S. alone. So curbing them rapidly makes sense. However, there’s a problem with that: The aerosols humanity sends into the atmosphere presently help cool the climate. So they protect us from some of the warming that is being produced by continually emitted greenhouse gases.
  • But scientists still don’t know how big this cooling effect is, or whether rapidly reducing aerosols would lead to a disastrous increase in warming. That uncertainty is caused by aerosol complexity. Atmospheric particulates vary in size, shape and color, in their interactions with other particles, and most importantly, in their impacts.
  • Scientists say that accurately modeling the intensity of aerosol effects on climate change is vital to humanity’s future. But aerosols are very difficult to model, and so are likely the least understood of the nine planetary boundaries whose destabilization could threaten Earth’s operating systems.

China has seen dynasties rise and fall over the last two millennia. Such are the vagaries of human history. But researchers at Trinity College, Dublin, and Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, recently suggested a surprising natural explanation: volcanoes. Of 68 dynastic collapses since 0 AD, they found that 62 were preceded by major volcanic eruptions around the world.

Volcanoes throw tons of tiny particles known as aerosols skyward. These float in the atmosphere with sometimes huge effects: scattering sunlight, absorbing solar radiation, cooling the earth, and changing rainfall patterns. When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, for example, the resulting ash cloud lowered the planet’s temperature by 0.6° Celsius (1.1° Fahrenheit) for at least two years.

The team behind the Chinese dynasty research surmises that volcanic aerosols triggered drought and ruined crops, leading to catastrophic social unrest across China’s agricultural economy. This causality is hard to prove conclusively, but the results suggests just how powerful an effect aerosols may have had on climate and civilization in the past — and today.

More Photo Uploads to the Stencil Archive

Lapiz catches the zeitgeist

Thanks to: Jaime Rojo/Brooklyn Street Art, @Emily_Lykos, @GraffitiRadical, u/Everything4Everyone, u/nzrqrb, @StreetArtUtopia

Spinning: Freddie Hubbard, Dead Can Dance

>NEW< Epyon5 gets real horrorshow

Good advice in Rhode Island

One from Canada

One from Chile

Here and there in San Francisco

SFMTA outlines on Van Ness St., SF

One from Ukraine

One from Portugal


zir0 in Germany



timely one form Lapiz (posted on BSA)

Bump and Update for Our First History Post

Just saw over on Insta that the Stencil Stories exhibit in Heidelberg, Germany went up late last year during the pandemic. Though the exhibit says, via translation, stencil graffiti's true roots have been forgotten, we at Stencil Archive beg to differ! For our 20th year here, we just went through our very resourceful History category (recently updated Feb. 19) and updated some of the older posts (new videos, photos, formatting, etc.).

And we also just updated our first-ever History post, which was a bibliography used for the creation of the book "Stencil Nation". We added two books that were not on the list, and updated Josh MacPhee's "Pound the Pavement" zine series info.

Here are the two new books:

Cut it Out; Banksy; Weapons of Mass Distraction, publisher, 2004.

Stencil Project - Paris 2004 (with DVD); Collectif; CRITERES, publisher, 2004.