Although it’s been a very long time since I last made any kind of traditional collage (in fact, it was probably back when I was in school), it’s been one of my least favourite art forms.
For starters, you end up getting little bits of paper everywhere and you can also get glue everywhere too. Not to mention that you’re also limited by whatever magazines (yes, actual physical magazines) you happen to find and don’t mind ruining.
Until recently, I could sort of appreciate a good collage but collages seemed to lack the creativity that comes from traditional drawing and/or painting. After all, all you’re really doing is re-arranging pre-made images.
On the plus side, traditional collages are figurative and/or abstract works of art that require actual effort as well as careful attention to composition, colours etc.. when making them, so they’re still vastly better than *ugh* modern conceptual art.
But, when I started an art series that was posted here in February (and which I mentioned in yesterday’s article too), it also had the side-effect of making me think about collages in a different way.
Basically, I started making a series of digitally-edited paintings – where I’d try to cram as many things that I considered “awesome” into each painting. This often resulted in some extremely random paintings – like this film noir/Ancient Egypt/ cyberpunk/ Viking zombie/ steampunk picture:
It was then that I realised that I was basically making a *gasp* collage. It’s true! My “awesome stuff” paintings were a random compilation of things from the surrounding culture that I’d remixed and combined in a new way.
Yes, I’d actually drawn and painted everything in each of these pictures onto a blank piece of paper (before editing them very heavily on the computer), but they were basically collages in all but name.
And, well, this made me think about art in general. There’s a great saying, often attributed to Picasso, that “Good artists borrow, great artists steal“. Although I’ve written about this saying before, making these “awesome” paintings helped me to think about this saying in a different way.
All art is about doing interesting things with either the world around us or the worlds within our own imaginations. Even with realistic still life and landscape paintings, artists will often make changes in order to improve the picture in some way or another.
To use another example from my own art, here’s what eventually happened after I tried to make a “realistic” still life painting of an old videotape:
In a way, I guess that all art is a type of collage. We take things from the real world, from our imaginations and/or from the surrounding culture, we often mix them with other things and then we try to create something new and interesting from them.
Yes, some types of collage require more creativity than others – but whether it’s a comic artist combining two interesting genres, whether it’s a still life painter or whether it’s someone making a traditional collage – all art is a type of collage.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂