Silhouette man creates memories

Published 12:08 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

Four-year-old Sarah Todd Adcock sat very still at Brookhaven’sEngravables while the same hands that immortalized President GeorgeH.W. Bush’s grandchildren cut her likeness into a small piece ofpaper.

“Silhouette Man” Tim Arnold said he has created cutoutsilhouettes of quite a few famous people in his time.

“Those actually hung in the White House for a while,” he said ofthe Bush silhouettes.

Arnold travels a circuit of 24 states, going to departmentstores and novelty shops, cutting people’s faces into black paperand creating things that will become treasured family heirlooms.But he also has art on every continent in the world, he said.

“This is way more fun than it used to be when I had a real job,”said Arnold, who was, among other things, a creative director inNew York City in a former life. “I get to play with the kids,travel all over creation, and you have your own work schedule.”

He said his wife likes to rib him about being between jobs allthe time.

“You could almost say I’m always looking for work,” he said witha laugh. “But while this is a new store, I’ve got a lot ofregulars.”

And the art is in his blood, he said. When he was in college,his mother, Garnett Arnold, showed him how to create the thing thathas given him the freedom and fun that he enjoys as the SilhouetteMan.

“It was almost 40 years ago, and my mother did it,” he said. “Iwas in college, and she pressured me into it. I’m glad, because Ididn’t have a lick of sense in college.”

The most fascinating thing for bystanders who watch is thatArnold doesn’t ever pick up the pencil when he’s doing his on-sitevisits.

“I don’t sketch them first,” he said. “On the larger ones, thefull bodies where I’m doing hands and things, those have to bedrawn first, but these are done free-hand. It’s just one step.”

Another thing that Arnold treasures about his art is that withthe exception of paper types, it has stayed the same throughhundreds of years.

“This art form hasn’t changed in 300 years,” he said. “We do itthe same way now that it was done in the 1700s.”

But some things do change, as Arnold pointed out that his childclientele sometimes come back, and bring their own children.

“I’m doing children’s children now,” he said. “Children that Idid their silhouettes long ago are bringing their babies in.”

Engravables owner Connie Hooper said she hopes to have Arnoldback to do more silhouettes in the future.

“He’s amazing,” she said. “People are all so amazed when theysee all the interior detail he puts in.”

More information on Arnold is available at his Web site,