THE ART OF COLLAGE Some glue, scissors and old magazines are all you need.
Creativity doesn’t require expensive kit, says Bethan Rose Jenkins – glue, scissors and old magazines are all you need
There’s a room at the back of my house where you’ll often nd me. Paper rustles softly, punctuated only by the occasional sound of scissors cautiously slicing. These sounds merge with my own slowed breathing as I move gently towards my goal. Achievement, for me, has always been focused around productivity and e ciency; a feeling earned when I meet a deadline or tick an errand o my to-do list (neither of which, I realise, have crossed my mind for hours). Yet, smoothing my hand across the cool surface of my nished collage, I feel a genuine sense of accomplishment.
Art requires concentration. It draws you into a methodical and creative process, diverting you away from the fast-paced stresses of daily life and into the moment. “Art is an amazing way of connecting with the whole brain and body,” says Integrative Arts Psychotherapist Emma Cameron (emmacameron.com). “It’s about taking time out and allowing yourself to be creative.”
Although art therapy is conducted with a therapist like Emma, art therapy is a personal process that anyone can try. It involves viewing or even creating something artistic alone, with friends or perhaps as part of a class. Involving ourselves practically in a physical process can help us to develop distance and perspective, allowing space for us to work through any worries.
“Making art is a very mindful practice to me. I admit to getting rather lost in it,” says surface pattern designer Julie Hamilton (juliehamiltoncreative.com), who uses collage to create colourful
art with a oral aesthetic. “I am able to think about other concerns during this process and easily solve problems.”
Historically-inspired collage artist Amanda White agrees (amandawhitedesign.com). “For years, collage was purely my hobby,” she says. “Now it’s also my job, yet I still nd myself doing collage for myself to unwind in the evenings after working on commissions during the day.”
Collaging is the method of assembling di erent images, textures and patterns into a piece of artwork. As an art form, collage has blended almost imperceptibly into popular culture and modern life. “Think of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts
Club Band album cover,” says Sophie Moates, a collage artist specialising in album design (www. sophiemoates.com). “That was collage and one of the most iconic album covers people remember.”
Yet, compared to other art forms, collage is still relatively young, only really emerging at the beginning of the 20th century. It became popular during the Cubist movement (an abstract and fragmented style of art), thanks to artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. They derived the name of the new technique from the French word ‘coller’, meaning ‘to stick’, and collage was born.
Over time, the process developed, beginning to include photographs after the First World War and being taken up again during the pop art era of the 1950s. Today, as with most things, collage has merged with technology. Digitally designed versions decorate the walls of high-street clothing stores, while social media has created an internet-based
gallery for collage works. Instagram, in particular, has become an ideal space to both admire and showcase these pieces, although many collage artists still prefer to use the original method. “Creating collages by hand, the traditional way, pulls you away from the screens, away from the computer, phone and television,” says Sophie. “You get some ‘me time’ to totally unwind.”
Luckily, you don’t need to be a professional artist to have a go at creating your own. Unlike other techniques, collage is almost immediately accessible to everyone. It doesn’t require any particular experience or special equipment to get started, just a pair of scissors and a stack of paper, brochures or photographs. “Paper collecting can be done anywhere,” says Julie. “Make it an outing or part of some holiday fun. Collect papers from special places or events: maps, ticket stubs, pretty patterned menus – you’ll
nd material everywhere. All you need then is a glue stick and a pair of scissors.”
The rst stage of collage is to choose your materials and any images or colours that you want to include. This is the time to be creative; let your imagination lead you slowly through the pages of magazines, sheets of paper designs and memorable tokens. You don’t need to make a decision straight away, just allow yourself to explore.
During the relaxed process of selection, explains arts psychotherapist Emma, we begin to engage the more creative, right brain over the more logical and analytical left brain. We may feel drawn to certain images or colours and should trust ourselves to follow our instincts. As we concentrate more on the artistic process, we become deeply absorbed within it, which is often referred to as ‘ ow’.
“When you’re in that ow state, it’s incredibly good to make you feel better and improve your mental health,” says Emma.
These mindful bene ts can also continue long after the practical process has nished. For example, you may choose to combine a creative selection of images into a beautiful and inspiring vision board. Whenever you begin to feel doubt or become uncertain, you can return to your board for reassurance and guidance.
When it comes to creating your collage, there really are no hard and fast rules – it is completely up to you. “The beauty of collage is that you can’t really mess up,” says Julie. “If you do something that you don’t love, you can always paint or glue over it.”
“Don’t worry too much about the nished piece,” agrees Sophie. “Just have fun, play around, experiment and you’ll nd your groove.”
Collage truly is for everyone. Designs can be as simple or as intricate as you choose, whether
“The beauty of collage is that you can’t mess up”
“Don’t worry about the finished piece – just have fun”
you decide to create a piece of art, visualise goals or preserve precious memories. Exploring collage art as therapy could also unlock a mindful experience with bene ts extending far beyond the creative process, whatever your artistic ability or your level of experience.
If you’re feeling inspired to get creative or take a moment away from it all, turn the page to read our top tips on how to get started, and nd our cut-outs for your own collaging creations.
Collage artistAmanda is inspiredby historicalarchitecture.
Surface patterndesigner Julieuses collagein her artwork.
Sophie uses collage to create striking designs with unusual image combinations. Below: collage gives texture to Amanda’s detailed artwork.
Collage artist Sophie specialises in album design.