Trend: Collage Art
Collage art is something we can all relate to—Many of us first experimented with it as youngsters, creating humble masterpieces for family and friends with scissors, pages from old magazines or newspapers, and glue. Far less humble masterpieces have been created by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and many more famous collage artists who have followed in their distinguished footsteps. But what is collage art today?
The term comes from the French papiers collés (glued paper). While some people trace collage back to the invention of paper (in China, in 200 BC) or to 10th-century Japan (when calligraphers applied glued paper to surfaces when writing poetry), Picasso and Braque are credited with bringing the art form into the modern age.
Dadaists and surrealists found collage right up their alley: What better way for Dadaists to express a rejection of logic and an embrace of chaos? For surrealists to explore the spaces between dream and reality, to allow the unconscious to express itself?
Part of the beauty of collage is its flexibility: It can employ many different media, including painting and drawing, paper, photomontage, wood, mosaic—and of course, today, digital media. Artists draw inspiration from many sources, too. Scroll down to enjoy a sampling of the work of contemporary collage artists.
Selman Hoşgör found inspiration in the recent film The Danish Girl.
He generally uses and combines different media—such as photography, typography, and color. “Mostly, my collage compositions are created spontaneously, and I really like the way imperfection is part of my style,” he says.
When he read the scenario and saw the trailer for The Danish Girl, he immediately saw the makings of a fine collage project. “Combining the movie images and fashion illustration together was a natural,” he says.
“Every character I create in a collage has its own personality,” says Enrique Núñez of Yes I do concept. One source of inspiration for Núñez is classic films and their archetypal couples—for example, Gilda, starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford.
Mirta (first position), channeling Rita Hayworth’s Gilda, is the typical femme fatale; Edgar (second position) is the guy who gets in trouble because of her. “Harry [third position] is a herpetologist and entomologist who loves what he does,” Núñez says.
TV also provides inspiration: “We are completely infatuated with all things Simpsons,” says PJ Richardson of LAUNDRY.
So the team jumped at the chance to work with FXX to create advertisements for the Simpsons. The project’s influences included the channel’s direction to find inspiration in collage artist Cyriak, archived Simpsons episodes, Pinterest searches, and Instagram fan art.
“As all of this cooked down into the stew of our collective minds, we began putting brush to canvas—digitally—and let it move into some far-out areas,” PJ says.
Some of Samuel Castaño’s recent projects focus on famous literary figures, including Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Gabriel García Márquez, and Pablo Neruda (the three images shown are from the series At Home with the Poet, for an Excelente magazine article about Neruda and his homes).
“Good stories by good writers are always a great source for images,” Castaño says. “In these projects, in particular, I tried to use the richness of the worlds they presented to me in their stories—a lot of detail and playing with the absurd.”
“I like the idea of bringing things that were made with other purposes to a new image,” he adds. “The act of searching for collage material often takes the illustration to new and unexpected places.”
The female form has always inspired artists.
“While I was researching footage for another job, I found several photographs of women by Alex Buts, and I was fascinated by their melancholic expression,” says Sebastian Onufszak. “As a result, I created a fragmented story about an unspoken goodbye, which ended in this digital collage triptych: Mademoiselle, Mon Amour, and Au Revoir.”
For Onufszak, collage—as seen in these three pieces—is like a “creative playground,” where he tries out new styles, techniques, or media, combing different tools, such as Adobe Photoshop with Adobe Illustrator and Cinema 4D. “It’s an experimental creative journey with no specific destination,” he says.
For Susie Hammer, the inspiration comes from real-life women.
“My work often stars female characters,” she says. “The Neighborhood Heroines series is inspired by all the brave girls who skate, ride, and aren’t afraid of bruises and adventures.”
The human body in synergy with nature, the female figure, and the loss of identity form the conceptual basis of Rocio Montoya’s work. Her admiration for surrealism is also clear.
“Parasomnias are a category of sleep disorders that involve movements, behaviors, emotions, and strange perceptions that occur during the course of sleep,” Montoya explains. Her Parasomnia collage series aims to evoke those magical moments when the subconscious is capable of exploring the most unusual and crazy experiences—those that are impossible to feel awake.
Vinochromie, paper collage art on canvas, was a commission meant to introduce a wine at a public wine tasting.
“What I like about collage is that it gives life to an illustration,” explains Sonia Poli. “The natural shadows and depth it implies always make the composition more playful.”
This paper collage represents L’Or de Rostangue, 2013. “It’s a very nice rosé that you should taste with a spicy curry dish,” Poli says. “It's a colorful wine, very summery, so I wanted to use great vivid colors, hot and strong.”
“I love the accessibility of collage, and the total freedom you have to play with ready-made images,” Lola Dupre says. The artist works exclusively with paper and scissors; her work references both the Dada aesthetic of the early 20th century and the digital manipulations of the present day.
Reinvention of the Soul was a collaborative project with Sade English for Old Tat magazine.
Our burgeoning dependence on machine-created perfection and instant digital communication is the starting point for Wayne Edson Bryan’s compositions.
Bryan uses cut and pasted copier paper, ballpoint pens, and self-adhesive vinyl letters to construct horror vacui collages (such as these images from his Other P/D3 Glitch Collage Studies series). The black-and-white images sourced from the Internet that he painstakingly trims into strips and glues into patterns are created by or associated with computers as well as nanotechnology, satellite imaging, physics, chemistry, and molecular biology.
The collages of editorial illustrator Lincoln Agnew are reminiscent of both Russian constructivism and the punk aesthetic of the 1970s and 1980s—and they are very much in demand by magazine art directors.
Christian Barthold recently illustrated a feature article about bees for Frisch aus dem Garten magazine.
He enjoys that his collage work always surprises him.
“I go into the ‘image-world’ of a certain topic, and use—or misuse—the clichés of this world. Depending on my commission, I can be very satiric, decorative—whatever I think fits best. The best thing for me is that I never know how the final piece will look.”
And isn’t that one of the beautiful things about collage, after all?
Ready to try your hand at collage? Carolina Niño helped us create a collage tutorial that shows how to use stock images in a composition that expresses your own “visual harmony.” See the tutorial.