Curating Your Images for Collage

Curating Your Images for Collage

In my Fremont classes, we were talking about collage and selecting materials to use in our work. Many people have it in their head that they need to spend hours sorting through every piece of collage material in their possession to find the right image, or maybe they’re overwhelmed with supplies. I hope that what I’m about to share helps you. Keep in mind that what I’m talking about doesn’t only apply to selecting collage supplies, but to art materials in general. We don’t need a lot of supplies to create meaningful pieces.

When selecting materials, limit yourself. It is overwhelming when we have access to all of our supplies. Narrow it down. Be mindful.

Sort through your collage stash, pull out pieces that appeal to you *right now,* not materials for tomorrow. Material for today. Think about how you are feeling right now. What is your mood? Think about the season/time of year. Touch your supplies. Don’t spend more than a nano-second as you sort.

If it appeals to you right now, put it in the NOW pile. If you like it but want it for later, put it in the LATER pile. If you feel that you are done with it, put it in the GIVE AWAY or recycle pile.

When I sort through my own supplies, I go through my “now” journal bag and rotate my collage ephemera every three to four months, depending on my mood. I tend to rotate my supplies with each new season, or if I get bored. I swap out old supplies for new-to-me ones or ones I’ve forgotten about.

I also sort my images, but only by focal points or background. I don’t like sorting by color or anything else, as I prefer serendipity.

Think about limiting your materials. Let’s say you’re taking a class and collage supplies are on the list. Sort through your stuff a few days before the class. Select maybe 25-30 focal images. Your focal image can be anything from an animal, to a person, to an object, to an abstract image. Select what interests you at that moment in time depending on your mood, thoughts and interests.

Sort through your background papers. These can be anything. I use a lot of magazine and book pages for collage. I also will use scrapbook paper, handmade paper, vintage papers, newspapers, etc. If I can glue it down and it is of interest to me, it goes in the pile. Select about 40-50 pieces of different sizes. Look for a variety of colors, textures, shapes and patterns. Place these in a container of some sort.

When it comes time to do a page, instead of sorting through your entire stash, you are now limited to using what is in the above mentioned container. This is your NOW stash, and you can sort through and select the first focal image that feels right. Maybe the image relates to how you are feeling or relays what you are thinking. Maybe you just like the color. Grab it and use it.

Now sort through your background papers and select a small handful (anywhere from 4-8 pieces.) You can limit yourself to two or three colors that you feel go together. Look for different patterns and textures, things that you like. Cut or tear the papers as desired.

I’m not a big fan of the “just glue crap down and make it work.” Yes, gluing stuff down and then doing things on top of it can be fun, but it also can be stressful to some and be meaningless to others. I refer to  the above mentioned process as  “curating my images.” It’s a process I’ve found over the years to work best for me.

I hope that what I have shared here helps you in some way. As always, please let me know if you have any comments or thoughts to share.

Leave a Reply