Stuart Semple and The Blackest Black


Black 3.0 is the first readily available, affordable super black on the market. It is said to absorb nearly 99% of visible light, rendering objects into black holes and the clever invention is readily available to all artists - perfect in time for your Halloween craft projects!

Black 3.0 is the first readily available, affordable super black on the market. It is said to absorb nearly 99% of visible light, rendering objects into black holes.

The last few weeks have been exciting times in the world of the blackest blacks – we’ve had $2 million diamonds coated in them and top-of-the-end BMWs unveiled. Meanwhile, British artist Stuart Semple has been quietly plodding on with the world’s Blackest Black paint, a super affordable, easy-to-use black that he wants every artist to have the freedom to express themselves with. Making Cards & Papercraft has been lucky enough in interview Stuart about this incredible invention, available via his website, CultureHuslte.com for just £14.99.

There are several super-nano blacks, but until now most have failed to make it outside a science lab. Black 3.0 is the world’s first usable, affordable and democratic blackest black paint. To celebrate the launch Semple has coated a BMW in the super paint, which cost a total of £8.63 in materials. “It’s time we stopped seeing art as some kind of weird elite luxury and start to get our heads around the fact that all art matters. It’s tough enough getting through life as an artist without material manufacturers telling you you’re not rich enough or important enough to use things”. Stuart Semple

Black 3.0 is the culmination of nearly three years of work with the artistic community, who have helped Semple create an affordable and usable super black paint. Although Semple’s paint-making team at his Culture Hustle lab had worked with 1000 artist beta testers and created a brand new ultra-matte nano pigment, they could not afford the costly process of manufacturing the paint at volume so they could share it with other artists. So, they turned to crowdfunding site Kickstarter, hoping to raise £25,000 from the community. The end result was almost half a million pounds in pledges and over 10,000 supporters, making it the 2nd most supported art Kickstarter of all time.

“I’m still totally blown away that artists came together like this and made this happen. I had no way of preparing for it, and obviously it was way bigger than I imagined…so the last six months or so have dealt with the harsh reality of the sheer volume of the situation.” Stuart Semple

And as for the extra money raised? Well, Semple has been able to plough that into an upgraded recipe (3.2) that promises an even blacker, more durable paint that won’t thicken in warmer climates (one of the reported issues of the first Kickstarter batch).

Stuart’s quest started after British artist Sir Anish Kapoor secured the exclusive artistic rights to the blackest substance – ‘Vantablack’ – back in 2016. The art community was very annoyed, because they felt that colour should belong to everyone. Semple then shared his Pinkest Pink online – and banned Kapoor from using it (users of the website had to confirm they were not Anish Kapoor, were not buying on his behalf and would not share any with him as part of the checkout process). Quickly, the Pink became a viral hit. Kapoor convinced his gallery to breach the website terms of service and get him a jar. When he dipped his middle finger in it, taking to Instagram to flip the art community the bird, with the caption ‘up yours pink’, the artist cohort was incensed. Stuart was swamped with messages asking him to create a black.

He responded with Black 2.0 after beta-testing various iterations with 1000 artists from around the world. 2.0 was good and has been enjoyed by over 45,000 artists who aren’t Anish Kapoor. But he always thought he could do better, so the quest for a blacker black continued.

Vantablack is the only material in the history of time that artists have been banned from due to the fact they identify themselves as artists. So, Semple remains adamant that his ban on Kapoor using the substance will remain, until he relinquishes his rights and says sorry to the art community.

Recently, scientists at MIT have created a blacker black than Vantablack and collaborated with an artist to coat a $2 million diamond with it, which is currently on show at the New York Stock Exchange.

Stuart says: “I’m really pleased that MIT created blacker black but sad to see it’s being used to coat a $2 million diamond. Like Vantablack before it, it’s very expensive and technical to apply which means that unless you have vast resources it’s out of reach of most people. This stuff shouldn’t be the exclusive right of a super-rich artist, or be for someone who can afford to pay a team to coat their BMW. Nobody I know can afford a $2 million diamond to coat in super black. The whole thing just feels really elitist and exclusive and colour shouldn’t be that. It should be available for people to express their own ideas with.”

Whilst Vantablack absorbs 99.96% of light and the New MIT black 99.995%, Semple’s Black 3.0 absorbs between 98% and 99% of light depending on what it’s applied to. Stuart explains that to the naked eye and without scientific measurement the visual difference is almost indistinguishable.

Semple’s online community has grown rapidly and already thousands of amazing artworks have appeared on social media with the hashtag #sharetheblack demonstrating the capabilities and usability of this new substance.

You can see Semple’s Black 3.0 for yourself at the Dulwich Picture Gallery’s ‘Rembrandt’s Light’ exhibition (4th Oct - 20th Feb). Where curators have used it to enhance the experience of the masterworks on show. Or grab a bottle from culturehustle.com from today.

“I honestly don’t care if you’re Rembrandt at a major museum, or Roger down the road making the gothiest garden gnome…all art matters and I want to make stuff that fuels whatever people need to express.” Stuart Semple.

To read our full interview with Stuart get a copy of the October edition of Making Cards & Papercraft here