My Collaging Process + collage portfolio

Hello! I know it’s been a minute since I last published a blog post. Truthfully, my life’s been a little crazy ever since my state reopened. I’ve been back at work, but working double the hours I was before quarantine. Needless to say, I’ve been busy.

However, as we move into the last half of summer and my college move-in date looms ahead in the near future, I want to get back into the habit of blogging.

Today, I’ll be writing all about my love of collage and how I go about creating the perfect piece.

There’s something both meditative and cathartic about collaging. Sitting on the floor, surrounded by a flurry of paper, magazines, newspapers, and photographs. Nothing but you, a pair of scissors, and an expansive collection of sentimental images. Sorting through the piles of clippings until you find the perfect combination– a just-right balance of colors, themes, and messages. As the collage progresses, it cleans itself up little by little. What started as a mess becomes a tidy, intentional work of art. You’ve extracted the perfect pieces and arranged them into the perfect gallery. Collaging is a prime example of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

the process

I believe the key to collaging is removing the restraints of perfection or expectation. I never go into a collage with much of a goal in mind. My goal is to simply create. I find that by having a blank mind in the beginning, I allow myself to explore all possible options and hopefully end up with something even more breathtaking than anything my brain could have imagined beforehand. Embracing the process of collage is truly how you unlock its magic.

I have a “box of pretty things” where I set aside materials for collage. Anytime I find myself in possession of a particularly visually pleasing scrap of paper, I toss it in my box. Anything from beauty product packaging, magazine clippings, or flyers passed out on the street can end up in my box. I’ll make a note here that I never print out things to be used in my collages. If that’s something you’re into, then totally go for it. For me, however, I prefer organically amassing my collage materials.

When I’m ready to collage, I open up my box and spread out my collection. I sift through it to remind myself of what I have on hand. Once I’ve done that, I start setting aside pieces that I feel particularly drawn to. The process of actually selecting the pieces is very subjective. My collages generally follow some sort of color scheme, theme, or mood, but it’s very loose.

My collages are composed of all sorts of bits and scraps; the pink envelop was part of a grad gift from a friend!

Once I have a decent pile of clippings, I’ll pick out the canvas or paper I’m using as the background. Lately I’ve been a fan of larger collages, but I also enjoy collaging in my bullet journal from time to time. (Big bullet journal tip: If you ever mess up a spread beyond repair, collage over it.) I’ll begin arranging the clippings in different orders and layouts to see what I like most. It takes a while to decide on what will ultimately be in the collage. I’ll spend a substantial amount of time swapping out different clippings for one another. It’s good to have too many clippings picked out, because you’ll almost definitely find that some don’t actually fit the visual atmosphere of the collage you’ve begun to make. As the collage begins to take form, it becomes easier to see more clearly what works and what doesn’t.

At this stage in the collaging process, my biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid of pushing the boundaries.

  • Cut up photos and spread the pieces out so the image is fractured but recognizable.
  • Let pieces hang off the edge of your surface.
  • Layer and stack clippings
  • Rotate clippings in unexpected ways

There are so many possibilities and sometimes what looks best in your head isn’t actually the best option. This is my favorite point in the collaging process. It’s where you surprise yourself the most with your own creative abilities. I enjoy the fact that never once have I finalized the “first draft” collage. So much adjustment and experimentation goes into this part, and you’ll always end up with something even better than what you thought you were going to create.

Once I’m satisfied with where it’s at, I’ll often leave the collage unfinished for a day or two. Just let it sit and make changes as I see fit. I don’t always do this, but giving your collage multiple days prevents the burn-out that would otherwise have you rushing to wrap it up. It also gives you the chance to come back to it with a refreshed artistic gaze, and I find that some of the best changes are made at that point.

And after I’ve come to a final draft, I’ll break out the glue and tape to stick down the clippings.

That completes the general process I follow for collaging. Below are some of my favorite collages I’ve made over the past few years. Let me know if you’re into collage at all, or if it’s something you’re interested in trying out!

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