To collage or not to collage?

To collage or not to collage?

Whether we want to admit it or not, modern life can be stressful. We are constantly in a hurry, bombarded with information from every platform imaginable, we eat fast food, drink takeaway coffee and generally always feel anxious that we are going to miss out on an event or some next big thing that will pass by us if we do not stay in the game. This kind of lifestyle needs something to take the anxiety away, and so almost everyone develops some kind of coping mechanism to deal with stress.

Some find it in sports or exercise, video games or in cleaning around the house but I eagerly avoid those categories. My means of stress relief can be nailed down to two things – a glass of good red wine and collages. I can sit for hours with scissors and reams of paper clips, newspapers or printed out pictures trying to make something useful out of the nonsense that surrounds me.

I often make collages with subjects that fascinate me or that come to mind too often – cosmos, eruptions, tidal waves, family, butterflies, etc. Making collages becomes a sort of meditation for me after a long day. But, what is a collage anyway? The word itself comes from the French “coller”, in translation “to glue”. The technique of collage is simple – the artwork is created from an assemblage of different shapes and sometimes materials that create a new work of art. It is believed that Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, the cubist duo, developed the term “collage” in the early 20th century and it became a very important part of modern art, not only with the cubists, but with the surrealists, dadaists and other important movements in art. The technique of collage is limitless in its essence, you can use photomontage, decoupage, digital collage; the only essential element is the assemblage of various separate works that will soon make a meaningful new work of art.

I am not a cubist or dadaist, but I have a strong need to create. I use many other ways to do this, but I have to admit that creating collages is probably the most relaxing and creative expression I use. I would like you to try to do the same. Believe me, it’s quite easy. I’ll try to give you a few tips to make putting together your own original, derivative work easier.

1.Collect newspapers, pick out nice photos from magazines, print out the things you like online.

2.Be careful with cutting and do not hesitate to change your concept as you put the images together.

3.Decide what you want to use for the background – cardboard, wood, canvas, whatever works, just remember to match the glue to the material. I personally use a simple glue stick, but it can look sloppy if used on a canvas.

4.Start with a strong background. You can not go wrong with old fashioned paper, psychedelic patterns, or just beautiful photos that you find inspiring. You can also add things to the background little by little until you are satisfied with its visual identity.

5. Keep in mind that you do not have to use all the elements you have, sometimes less can be more and in my opinion it’s better to have a collage with fewer elements but with a strong story than a cluttered and confusing collection of completely meaningless objects.

6.As I mentioned earlier, try to develop a story in your mind when you put all the pieces of the collage together. It’s important that the story makes sense to you, do not pay attention to what other people tell you. If they tell me butterflies should not be in a cosmos collage, I usually just add an extra one.

7.Do not be ashamed to share your creations with the world. Sharing is also a part of creating. It took me long enough to understand this, but now that I do, I think everyone else should too. By sharing our work, we help others connect to us and feel like they are not alone. And if they don’t like the art you make – even better – it can motivate them to create something they consider better.

Sometimes I ask myself if there is a sense to creating art at all, is it really helping? Anything that adds beauty to this existence helps to a great extent. In the end, life should be about experiences, enjoyment and creation. As Bukowski said, “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill the war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us” – that should be used as a motto for creating collage art.

Be brave, be yourself and keep cutting &pasting, and do not forget to share your art with the world!


Nora Jesenski

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