After World Collage Day: A Reflection


With over 60 events in over 20 countries, World Collage Day 2019 saw collage communities across the globe come together to celebrate of collage and to honour the global collage community. World Collage Day celebrates an art medium that excels at bringing different things together to create new forms and new ways of thinking. It’s amazing what can happen when artists get together! Kolaj Magazine has released a SPECIAL EDITION of the magazine.

Scott Neff co-organized “Connect Through Collage: World Collage Day 2019 with Twin Cities Collage Collective” at Boneshaker Books in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scott has been on the magazine’s radar since he won the Cut Out Page contest in Kolaj #4. Neff was a contributor to Allan Bealy’s Z2A: A Collage Alphabet collage book project. A Facebook exchange between Scott and Allan and Kolaj Magazine Editor Ric Kasini Kadour inspired the editorial “Golden Age of Collage” in Kolaj #21. He sent the magazine a reflection on his World Collage Day experience.

Reflections on World Collage Day 2019

by Scott Neff

Today, being the day after World Collage Day, I reflected on last night’s collage celebration event, hosted by our Twin Cities Collage Collective. It was free and open to the public. It was held in Minneapolis, thanks to the generosity of Boneshaker Books and the use of their community event space. The turnout exceeded my expectation when 45 diverse individuals showed up to make collage.

Putting Things in Context: All About Me Backstory

As with most artist receptions, my past art openings served primarily as a celebration of finishing a creative body of work for exhibit. There was usually a fair turnout. Friends showed their support by showing up and checking out the art. There was always an after party. It was fun for awhile, but I started to wonder what the purpose of it all was. People seemed to enjoy my collages, but it kind of ended there. Investors making a purchase often asked me where I’d shown and if I had plans for duplication. I wasn’t particularly motivated or skilled at playing the role of self-promoting salesperson. I could spot sales guys a mile away when I worked as a graphic designer. Why would I want to emulate that often fake persona? Other artist friends had much more finesse in their fine art sales than I did.

Making money off of art isn’t an unusual practice. So why did it start feeling weird and unhealthy? I’m not opposed to making money off of art. If that’s your intention, more power to you (within boundaries–more on that in a moment). I am seeing innovative, inclusive, well-thought-out, sustaining examples of art marketing that continues to shape the art arena in some positive ways. I am, however, turned off by some of the inclusive, controlling, business models out there. They can be very insular and selective, exploiting others or rotating art in private investment circles. We often validate others’ worth based on an individual’s documented achievements and degrees. Spending my money to maybe get chosen to show in a gallery where maybe I’d sell something, and then getting my cut (and putting it back in to buy art materials) from the gallery seems insulting and absurd to me. So I stopped playing the art game where the rules didn’t seem to be written in the favour of the artist.

About Last Night and the Future of the Collective

Last night, people came to World Collage Day because they heard word of it, saw a flyer posted, picked it up on social media, knew a collective member or (what seemed to be the case for a lot of people) read the press release in the “Best of the Week” in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Perhaps they were curious or feeling adventurous. Some had minimal experience with collage. Others used to make collage and wanted to get back in to it. We’re still crunching data and learning from the experience.

Some people that came to the World Collage Day event were chatty, while others were very focused and introverted while creating. I felt that every one I talked to was searching for something. The common denominator among this very diverse group of people was that it felt very energized and purposeful. The body language of the group read to me as though they were in the driver’s seat. Sure, some people were excited and intrigued by our collective’s exhibit of collage work, but I felt that our guests were drawn to creating collage because we ALL have a need and burning desire to share our own story and to connect with others, often in nonverbal ways.

I felt empowered by helping others feel empowered. And that is what World Collage Day and our new found collective is about to me; breaking down barriers, smashing societal conceptions of what art and artists are supposed to be, welcoming all within the community, helping guide others to find their voice, coming together, and learning from each other. And THAT, to me, is where the real strength and beauty in art comes from; the community in which you surround yourself.

#WorldCollageDay is an international celebration of collage on Saturday, May 9, 2020. Learn more HERE.


Images (top to bottom):
Butterfly Collage by Nell Nere. Courtesy of the artist.
World Collage Day 2019 images provided by Scott Neff.