Back to Collage
It sounds a bit lame, but a big creative highlight of my last year was rediscovering collaging — mainly cutting and sticking bits of paper onto other bits of paper with Pritt Stick.
I think it was probably 1990 where I decided that I’d grown out of ‘cutting and sticking’, and it took having a child and a rainy day in 2015 to rediscover it again. Here are some of my collages from the past year, and a few things I’ve learned from destroying all my magazines.
Making collages chills you out
I like collaging for the same reason I like drawing — it’s relaxing and enjoyable, and something good to do away from computer screens. The more I stare at my laptop, the less ideas I have, and the more tired I get. It’s interesting seeing all these ‘mindfulness colouring books’ pop up in newsagents. I’m sure collaging has the same affect. I find with collaging I lose track of time, and it gives me energy for other creative pursuits.
I’ve learned a lot about composition
Having a regular playground to explore different layout ideas has definitely helped my eye for design. I don’t know if I’m a better designer since starting this, but I’m learning a lot more about what I like and how my brain works. There’s a real freedom in being able to move shapes around until they make something that feels right, and then to think why that feels right. When I’m collaging I generally keep things fluid and stick everything down at the end. Sometimes I’ll add loads of elements, and then take everything away to it’s simplest form. And sometimes I just throw it all away.
It’s helped me to work quicker
I don’t spend a long time making collages. Often I set a 10 minute timer, which removes the pressure to make something perfect. I often go with my first instinct, or I cut out an interesting shape and go on from there.
Collaging is a form of remixing
There’s a great video series online called “Everything is a Remix.” I like that title—it’s so true, there are very few original things (or people) out there. The work most of us create is either inspired by the people around us, our environments, or the work of other people. Collaging is pure remixing—you ‘sample’ existing things and combine them together to build something new that didn’t exist before.
People start giving you magazines and flyers
I was very blessed to be given a whole bin liner full of National Geographics, which I’m making my way through. I’m reading them first, so it’s taking a while.
You make a lot of mess and it can be a strain on a relationship
Thankfully I have a gracious wife. I also built a shed last year to contain all the mess (but that’s the subject for another blog post).
I enjoyed it so much I made it part of my routine
I wake up fairly early in the week so I can have a bit of time to read/think/pray/create before life starts. Because it gives me energy, I’ve made collaging a habit, spending 10 minutes every morning making something quick, just for fun. Sometimes I share them online (with the hashtag #morningcollage—not sure why), sometimes I don’t.
You should give it a go
You don’t need a mac, or any expensive software. If like me, you haven’t collaged since your youth (why would you?), pick it up again! It’s cheap, fun, and doesn’t hurt anyone (depending on your scissor skills).
Also it’s a good childminding activity. I made this Christmas collage last year with some kids at our church, and they all seemed to enjoy it more than me.