I made my first collages over 40 years ago. I knew nothing about it. I stuck bits of cut paper onto card, probably sourced from 2 or 3 used magazines or comics. I used mucilage dispensed with a clumsy and messy rubber tip or daubed on smelly glue with a brush attached to the bottle cap. I did my best, after all, as an alternative to a written essay these were what I submitted for a course requirement to one of my university psych courses. Remarkably I passed!
I have continued to create collage works since then. Ripped through countless magazines, large format picture books, movie posters, etc. I have hundreds of files with thousands of pre-cut scrippets sorted into colours, textures, patterns, odd things. I have many pairs of scissors, knives, tweezers. I use an aerosol spray adhesive. I am strictly cut and paste. Analog?
“Analog” is a term often used today to describe works that are handmade using real materials to create a physical object. This term has been adopted by some collagists to distinguish their work from other ‘digital’ artists. With the tools available and almost unlimited image resources, digital work has its own techniques and aesthetic. Bravo, some truly great stuff out there. There is nothing digital about my works however and this has nothing to do with any sort of purist approach to collage. It is a preference. I enjoy the cutting, the sorting, laying out pieces, shuffling bits, accessing files, working on several images at once, enjoying the texture of things, the sensory qualities.
Collage is a magic creature. One can become hooked on the process so easily. No training required. Just get some simple tools and materials together, jiggle some bits about, stick’em down and presto, you’re an artist! Maybe not quite that simple. There are many precedents for collage in art history, most notably in the avant garde of the early 20th century. Collage is well established as a genre and is today a popular and recognizable outlet for artistic expression. It can take many many forms, from sentimental poetics, arcane narratives, chaotic rants to razor edge design or to whatever one can imagine or even never have imagined. It can seem the possibilities are endless.
I enjoy the process. Beginning with the recognition of potential from my sources. Cutting things up. Creating a file bank filled with anything I have imagined as useful. Laying out possibilities. Getting surprised, getting side tracked, finding direction. I feel as though I can make whatever I want. Sometimes I work from a sketch, just a bed side scribble on a notepad in the middle of the night. Sometimes it’s an obsessive technical exercise or maybe I embark on a totally spontaneous session where I just start. Something. Whether it’s abstract, technical, narrative, portrait, landscape, even stop frame animation, I try to create an image that exhibits an obvious presence within the framework. I want there to be recognizable elements. Could be colours, forms, objects, faces, things that are easily understood and may resonate on some level with a viewer.
I have a studio almost exclusively dedicated to collage. I have to walk there but it’s close. It’s upstairs, it’s small. I keep special things there. Mementos, curios, past works. All my collage paraphernalia is there. I can relax, give in to collage, welcome the state of mind.
I use black card as a base for my constructions.
I live in Kinburn, Ontario, a small village west of Ottawa, Canada. I am a self-employed artist-contractor, fabricating and installing exhibit components for museums and galleries. As an artist, my work includes; performance, installations, documents, sculpture, photography and collage.