I love collage art and I feel pretty confident about the art that I make. But years ago, I had lots of doubts about what I was doing, and many things held me back, so I’d like to share 10 things I wish I had known as a collage art beginner.
1. Collage art is not a talent
Here’s an example to help you put this in perspective. When you get dressed in the morning, does somebody help you pick out your clothes or are you able to do this yourself without too much difficulty or anxiety? I’m guessing that you are able to choose something that goes together. Maybe you even go so far as to match a purse or shoes, or a belt with whatever you’re wearing. It’s just kind of that knowledge that you have. So that’s to me kind of what collage art is. It’s that you are assembling something in a pleasing manner– using papers, whereas as getting dressed you are assembling yourself with items of clothing that are arranged in a pleasing fashion. So collage art–it’s just arranging paper. That’s simply what it is. You choose the papers and you choose the theme. You choose the colors. But don’t let the idea of collage overwhelm you because it is not a talent.
2. There is no “secret to success” for collage
Some people say, if I learn all the rules of art, of making good art, then I will create beautiful collage art, or if I go to art school or take art classes and learn everything that they have to teach me, then I will make really good collage art. This is not true. Maybe taking an art class would help you create a collage but it’s not a silver bullet. It’s not going to give you all of the answers and make you all of a sudden an expert or give you the confidence that you need to create. Those things come with time and with practice.
3. Don’t let the fear of hating your results stop you from creating
Lots of people are worried that if they make something they’re absolutely going to hate it, and then, what’s the point? What is the point of doing this kind of art if you don’t like what you’re going to make? Lots of people are very concerned or very worried that they’re going to disappoint themselves and disappoint others possibly even, but mainly disappoint themselves.
You can’t let this fear hold you back from creating. If this is a fear that you have, print out this page and read these words that will help you remember why you are making art. You can paste it into the beginning of one of your art projects, or just hang it on the wall and look at it and try to absorb the message. Hopefully the message in that printout will help you not have that fear of hating what you make.
4. Since collage art is not a talent, it is a skill, and having a skill means that you need to work at it
The more you put into practice the better you get. How do you get practice? Well, one of the ways you can get practice is to work in my Collage Weekly Planners. I have planners that provide you with an assignment every week they are filled with prompt assignments, where you look for those prompts and then create a collage with the five items that you have gathered. You don’t need to do them weekly. You can do them daily or take longer time and do a couple a month, whatever. It’s just the act of working on collage. Playing with paper, arranging things, and enjoying what you do.
5. Time is a component of making collage
It’s almost like a recipe: what do you need to make a collage? A substrate, which is something that you glue everything onto. An adhesive is necessary. You need papers, of course, and sometimes you can do additional embellishing with rubber stamping or inks or stencils. Lastly, you also need time.
In the beginning, when I started collage, I thought that I would be able to just grab papers and plop them down, and my collage would be basically done. But that is not the case. Time is super important because sometimes sometimes they can come together rather quickly, but other times it takes me days or even a week to finish up doing a collage, depending on the size and how many pieces of paper I’m working with. So I have learned to not rush collage and it takes as long as it takes. Everybody, every person has a different amount of time that they have on average to create a collage. Think of time as a component of collage and don’t be hard on yourself when it doesn’t come together quickly.
6. Cool art supplies are not going to make you better
It’s kind of a harsh thing to say, but I have been there with wanting the specific washi tape or the exact stencil. For me personally, what is the most rewarding is using what I have. It’s rewarding because I feel like I’m getting rid of the things that I already have too much of, and if I get rid of things I tell myself you can go out and buy more, so that’s kind of the impetus to get things out, so that I can bring new things in.
7. For collage art you don’t need a focal point
This is more of a technical point. Below is an example of a postcard I made using a pre-printed, blank Hungarian postcard. I used rubber stampings, some washi tape, and some scraps to decorate it, but there is no focal point. You don’t need to have a focal point and a lot of people get confused or worried when they don’t have one in their collage. Many people think that they’re doing something wrong, and that’s definitely not the case.
8. You don’t need to work in a linear fashion
You don’t need to work on a single project and be concerned about finishing that project before you move on. I enjoy working on several projects at one time. It helps keep things interesting for me. Oftentimes, I get bored working on the same project for a long period. If I have two or three things that I can go back to, it’s it’s a lot of fun.
9. Your style is going to change over time
This does make sense because as you put in more time, and as you are influenced by by more people, you start to incorporate little things here and there that you realize you like and it changes your style. It would be really boring if we did the same things in the same way day after day. It’s really important and it’s a part of being a human being that you evolve and you change, and you become better or you are able to refine the work that you do and so your style changes, and that’s okay. And oftentimes I hear people say I don’t like my style and that’s fine. Maybe you don’t like your style and you there are other styles that you do like. Then just work on incorporating those things or some of those things into your own so that your style does evolve into something that you are happier with.
10. There is more joy in the making than there is in the final result
Sometimes people get so caught up in wanting to complete or to have whatever it is done, that they don’t enjoy the process of creating. Of course, it’s nice when you have something that you’re done with, if you’re, if you’re making a book or a project or a junk journal, whatever, it’s good to have an end result, but it’s the joy of creating that keeps us coming back to work in collage.
There’s one more point that I wanted to add to this and that is, it’s super important to find a support community that is going to encourage you to create and to grow, and to just be that place where you can go and get inspiration, or ask questions, make comments, and see other people’s work. Of course there are places on online where you can do this. Facebook has a bunch of groups, art groups you can go. I myself, I started my own art group called the Collage Art Collective. There is a section for beginners where people ask questions or show us what what they’re working on, what they’re creating, and it really is important to have that kind of support system with helping you in your art.
If I’ve left out any advice you’ve found useful, please do leave them in the comments.
If you’d like to see me talk about this in video format, you can watch it below: