Stencil Pirates: A Global Study of the Street Stencil

Featuring an exhaustive collection of over a thousand photographs, Josh MacPhee's unique survey brings together the complex history of the street stencil with the boldest and most beautiful paint work from around the world. From three-color anti-capitalist symbolism in Australia to fly-by-night hip hop tags in Ohio, from portraiture in Paris to feminist declarations of self-defense in San Francisco, from environmentalist wheat pasting in Texas to radical circus promotion in Chile, the enormous scope of this often anonymous art form is celebrated and brought into critical focus.

Stencil Pirates places street graffiti within the larger pantheon of public expression. From political to abstract and purely aesthetic – from tagging to public announcements – street stencils have remade the way pedestrians, artists, and even corporations think about public space. Whether as part of the anti-gentrification struggles in New York or as a powerful tool during the recent general uprising in Argentina, stencils are shown challenging not just ideas but entire sensibilities.

Published July 2004
Soft Skull Press (
Distributed by Publishers Group West (
Cover Price: $20
ISBN: 1-932360-15-8