Telling a story
What collage can do for you
Back to the question: Do you need a purpose to do collage art? Only you can answer that question. Do you really? Would you be ok with making art just for the sake of it, even if no one else around you really cared for it? Do you need to have the validation of others? Maybe the support of an art group online is enough. Would you be okay making art only because you are able to reach that place of mindfulness where you can tune everything else out and simply enjoy that you are creating?
I hope you decide that it’s enough to create because of the joy it brings you without there being a defined purpose. You will notice after a while of looking at the collage art pieces posted in the group that you can actually see or feel the joy in a composition by the choices and arrangements of papers. Remember though, that the journey is just as important (sometimes more so) than the destination itself. The act of creating is at least as powerful as what you create.
What do you think? Is there a purpose for creating collage art and gluebooks?
Thank you, Pamela 🙂 Thanks for stopping by 😉
I’m 74 and have always wanted Ted to do this sort of thing. I still have the first scrapbook I ever made age 8. My mother gave me some fabric that I glued to cardboard to make the book. I cut pics from the few magazines we had. Then I. High school I made scrapbooks of newspaper clippings about myself and friends. Pics of Homecoming and prom dances a d of course the pressed corsages. Those are about to fall apart. It saddens me that I have no family to look at them with me or leave them to. So, I enjoyed reading why do we do this”
Would it be possible to show us? Maybe you could photograph the books and Margarete could share them? Alternatively, when you are able to visit again, a museum might be interested in collecting such a lovely snapshot of time.
Sue, we would love to see them.
What a wonderful keepsake and snapshot of time. My mother once said she wished she’d kept a journal even if she’d only written down the weather that day – (I’m 71) so I’ve journaled sporadically. I have started trying to add more of my life into my collages because i enjoy the meaning of that. I too would love to see pictures of some of the things you’ve created over the years. most of my art up to this time has been quilting although I did scrapbook for a time. That was most enjoyable when I did it with my daughter or with friends.
I now feel inspired again
Awesome post! Thanks so much!
Great question for us to ponder, Becca 😉
This post is well written Margarete, and everyone’s reason will be different and that’s ok. For me it is for the pure joy of creating, its therapy for me.
Thanks, Karen. That joy of creating is pure zen. It’s such a wonderful thing when others can find it in this kind of art, too.
You covered this topic so well. It’s really the joy it brings the maker that matters today, but as you said, generations to come will also learn and appreciate the work too.
Thanks, Kimberly. 🙂
Making ‘art’ and crafting ’ – glue books, collage, mixed media, journals, crochet etc etc is, for me, purely about the process and the pleasure I get from making something. If the finished item is good and someone wants it – great – if not that’s equally great – you put it beautifully Margarete 🤗
Thanks, Jacqui. It can be hard when you want all of your art to be lovely masterpieces and are disappointed when you’re not that satisfied with what you create. It’s so great that you have reached that place where you value all of your creative time, no matter the outcome. That to me is the purpose that I’d like others to find and be happy with: to find happiness simply from the act of creating.
I think if one does collage in order to get affirmation from others they may be setting themselves up for disappointment. Your focus on living in the moment, the meditative aspects, challenging the brain to bring some kind of order to the chaos of elements you have at hand are what draw me to this art form. Thanks for covering this topic so eloquently – and of course your examples are always inspiring…
Very well put, Julie. I hadn’t thought of it that way: the challenge of bringing order to the chaos of elements. That’s definitely what keeps me coming back to it!
What a beautifully written and thoughtful post. Each of us creates for very personal reasons, but we continue to create for the joy and soul satisfaction it brings. That said, I can’t wait for the next postcard exchange because sharing art is also a pleasure!
Awesome, Becky. I’m glad you’re looking forward to the next exchange 😉
Thank you for the thoughtful words. I feel I always have to create something. The weekly collages have helped me to develop a personal style and an eye for colors and layouts. I also make quilts, mixed media and some watercolor painting and what I learn from collage carries over into other art and in my life.
That’s so neat, Marilyn, that you are always creating. I am not. Sometimes I need to come to a complete halt and not even think about creating anything for weeks. I’ll read books or focus on other things. But when I’m ready, I jump back into collage and I’m charmed all over again. It never fails, thank goodness!
Hi Margarete: all of us who love to create are so fortunate, especially during these times of social isolation. I joke that the abundance of craft supplies I have is more than enough for the rest of my life. This time of isolation is what “I’ve been training for all my life”. lol. I am fortunate to have my sister living with me through this period and we spur each other on creatively, passing many hours at my dining room table, totally surrounded by paper, glue and ephemera. We try and balance the time we spend between paper crafts and quilting. So grateful for this desire to create. Bless you. Lindianna
Wow! How lovely that you have your sister to share a home with, and that you share creative interests! Lucky you💙 Continued creativity and inspiration to the both of you ❣️
This is beautifully and thoughtfully written, Margarete. The purpose and possibilities of gluebooks are just endless, as you’ve mentioned. Capturing a small moment in time or a feeling or a memory….or just the simple joy of making something…anything….sometimes that’s the purpose.
I suppose it’s possible to justify any kind of reason to collage. I agree with you that there are endless purposes and possibilities. 🙂
What a great post Margarete! I think art speaks to all of us differently, and we need to listen to our own voice not others. Collage is a very relaxing to me, because it requires me to shut down all those random thoughts running through my head. And just focus on my paper and glue. Thanks for hosting such a great group, where we feel okay with throwing all of our art there for all to see.
I so agree with you, Jennifer. Art means something a little different to each person. Listening to the voice we hear inside to find our way, and our own style is really the key.
Just found your blog through Somerset Studio’s April May June 2020 issue! Your thoughts on creating collage are spot on – I love the process and finding just the right piece to finish a piece is so satisfactory to me. Thanks for reminding us that each one of us is unique and will take away our own feelings and emotions in our collages.
Awesome, Joy! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I have done art all my life-from fine art to watercolor to now junk journals & collage art -I have often pondered this question -is it enough to do it for the pleasure of doing it? It has to be -if you don’t enjoy doing it why do it? I will say some of my art, junk journals were created with someone in mind (for a gift) which was not a bad reason because they were created out of love
I’m trying to practice just creating because I enjoy nowadays 😄
Yep, that’s exactly it, Tammy. It’s enough to make art for the pleasure it brings us. Thanks for stating that.
This question was posed to me by my ex-husband. He would ask if I was going to sell the peices that I made. I had to explain that it was a hobby and not all hobbies were done to make money. I collage for the process and pleasure, for the thrill of seeking out paper of various kinds and for pushing boundaries on what kind of art I can create with my ephemera.
For me my collage art is like true play; it’s fun, it’s voluntary and I can leave it and come back to it at anytime.
PS I’ve given gift bags of my extra peices to friends at Christmas time. I also gave some bags to strangers in restaurants.
love your reasoning, I love to play with all sorts of medium–paper and fabric are two of my fav’s. Linda
I, too, love that I can leave and come back to it whenever I want. That’s probably the thing I appreciate most about it 😉
Hello Margarete, I read and commented on this post in FB page. Which by the way I love this group. I’m learning again that my art is first off for me. This group as some others has been a conduit for my journals, glue books, scrapbooks. I’m freely creating, cutting, pasting, coloring, painting, searching threw my stash of goodies or when I’m out, remembering good and some bad times. Then I’ve collected supplies, and scraps, bits and pieces and put them into one of my “journals” . It’s a release for me. Of emotions some of them have purpose even if I didn’t have that thought it mind when creating it. I’m a rhyme or reason person either I’ve got it or not. It’s ensuring and releasing. I tried to answer the posted question with my way of scrapbook and journaling. That it’s a individual progress do what pleases you. If you need it to have purpose or not. 😊
I can’t flow art creativity all the time either. In fact I’m coming back from an almost year break. I focused my creativity and drive in fashion and shopping! ☺ Really, it helped me learn and feel more comfortable with color combinations since I was a wear black all the time girl. I felt a need to come back to my art which I was greatly missing. I tried to pick up where I left off a year ago but was left with unfinished projects. I like the comradery. I like challenges and prompts so I joined groups that have inspired me and kept me focused. I love playing with paper. I like to document and take notes. I like secret hiding places. I like color and trying new things. So you see, I collage and journal for multiple reasons and will continue to do so because it’s fun! Thank you for all you do Margarete. Be gentle with yourself as you maneuver through our new reality♥ Carolyn
Very well said! We each need to find our own reason or purpose for creating. Creating collage for me brings joy and a peacefulness that I enjoy, especially during these trying times. I hope you get your creative energy back and it will bring you joy again. Take care and thank you for your thought provoking post.
Right now during self-distancing, creating is keeping me sane. It is something I enjoy immensely and allows me to “leave” the day-to-day worries surrounding covid-19—I can get in the zone and relax in it. Normally I live alone but my sister is living with me at the moment and she is equally creative and we like the same things/activities. What a bonus to have her here right now. Started my third quilt top and have my dining room table covered in fabric at one end and paper ephemera at the other. Not much chance of visitors right now so it’s just cook and craft, clean when necessary. I love making things especially if I can take items that appear to be no longer beautiful and make something lovely from them. Creating satisifes an urge in me to make things better. All the best Margrete, be well. Linda
I create because it is fun . I do not need to tell a story, but I never made a gluebook though. I only made Junk Journals, Collages and I made some Art Journals. I try to let things fall in place, if you know what I mean. Nowadays in the time of crisis it keeps me distracted and it keep kind of telling me that is a Silverlining somewhere.
Yes. Silver lining, indeed. I am going to think about this time like that. 🙂
While I was always very attracted to collage once I discovered it (through Pinterest), I resisted trying it for a long time because my art had to have a purpose! Junk journals made sense to me because I use them after I make them. But collage? What do you DO with them? Then I realized that it was pure joy and creativity and challenge and using what I have (which is big for me) and that I just plain loved it. I’m not always happy with my results but the pleasure of creating is enough. Plus, I do love going back and just looking at them. And actually, I AM slowly working on an album – using family photos, memorabilia and other images that correspond to the eras of each page – to use what I have inherited. It hits all the spots: using what I have, memory keeping, collaging. Thank you for this great post and all your inspiration!
It really says something about how you’ve evolved as an artist, Trudy, when you can say “I’m not always happy with my results, but the pleasure of creating is enough.” That’s what I want for everyone to experience when working in their art, whatever form that is. Thanks for sharing!
I don’t think art has to have any purpose other than the enjoyment of creating. At the moment I am enjoying creating books, which may be used for glue books, art journals or tryouts of techniques. At the moment I am learning , experimenting, I may always be learning and experimenting, but that’s okay. My husband spends hours on a jigsaw, when it is complete, I look at it and then he packs it away to go to the charity shop. I never ask him what is it for? – a question he is always asking me! Creating is a way of life to some, a way to occupy the time to others and to others a therapeutic way of de-stressing. It fulfills a need, and that is a good thing. I think I might have run on a bit🙄
Karol L Massey
My purpose is to enjoy the escape and challenges of making collages. It feels like putting together a puzzle that I create. And it feels good when others like it or when I really like the finished product. Also, you can frame it and put it on your walls.
Yes! It does feel like it’s like “putting together a puzzle”. On some days it comes so easily — this goes here, along with that. Other days it’s as if nothing works. Funny how that is 🙂
I love making journals using old envelopes, old paper, new paper. And making a collage is the same thing. “I just want to make something pretty – even if no one cares” To me it’s therapeutic – letting our thoughts go to a simple piece of paper and glue it down, then another piece until you have made a beautiful creation. Thanks for sharing this, Margarete. Love seeing all your creations.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Cheryl. It is therapeutic, but I find that I’ve had to work to get to that point. For a long time I was so frustrated with what I was creating and didn’t like how things turned out. Only after doing things for a while did I realize how to become comfortable with the assembling. Only then it became therapeutic 😉
I decided to do small 4×5 mat boards. I also cut some art paper the same size. The mat boards I thought could be used as post cards,because I have bought post cards made of wood with an artist watercolor painting printed on the front. So it was a way I could put my creations to use. Then I started running out of mat board and thought I could make fronts for my homemade cards I send out. I have been a painter all my life and did realistic paintings. It is hard for me to go from replicating reality to just making a pleasing piece of non related images together in a pleasing way. I have to train myself to be free in expresson. Almost a modern art expression and since I am new to collageing I am more comfortable working in a smaller area. I really don’t need more books so this works for me.
How wonderful, Edie, that you have figured out what substrates work best for you. I love it that since you have a background in painting, you are happy with mat boards, and that works best for you, rather than books and journals. You send out a lot, but do you keep some for yourself? I’d love to know how you store those.
So well said Margarete. Not only do you “art” well but you write well! I remember when I first started seeing glue books on you tube, I thought “I used to glue images from magazines in a binder when I was in grade school and now adults are doing it!” So I started gluing again and what fun I’ve had. Gretchen Rubin once said that if you’re looking for what brings you happiness go back to some of the things you did as a child. And for me that was gluing images. The purpose is in the creating and just putting a page together or card. You said it best: “The act of creating is at least as powerful as what you create.”
Thank you for your wonderful blogs and inspiring artwork.
Thanks for your kind words about my writing, Sandi! I used to be a technical writer, once upon a time, so I’m glad I’m still able to put my writing skills to good use 😉 Funny about finding happiness in things you used to do as a child. I don’t remember doing any kind of collaging, but I remember being obsessed with office supplies as a kid. I wonder if that counts? 😉
i removed the word “collage” from your blog post title so that it reads “is there a reason for creating art?” van gogh, diane arbus & i say “yes!”
Inspiration – just what I needed. That and “permission “ just to do it. There are no collage police. Thank you.
Wonderful post that really spoke to me! I would absolutely be thrilled to find a Glue book made my grandmother. What a treasure that would be! I only make art for myself and I love the idea of using bits and pieces of my week in a book. I will try that! And as I make it, I will dream of someone coming across it in an antique or thrift shop in the far future. I love the idea of a random person finding one of my books 50 years after I’m gone and wondering who I was and how I lived my life!
Yay! I like the way you are thinking, Paula 🌹. I hope you create something neat and that you find interesting. That’s the first step 🙂
Sometimes the purpose is just to have fun creating, or you can be learning a skill or technique to be able to adapt in some other project.
I totally agree, Maryellen! ❤️
Thank you for writing this post. I am a Scrapbookers and avid journaled, but have been wondering why people create junk journals. I can’t draw to save my life, but I love paper and bits and bobs. This explains the value of doing this perfectly. I may have to do more of this!
Any chance to get to play with paper, I think. I know that’s one of the reasons why people love to create junk journals 😉.
It was great to read Margarete’s answer to “why” create collage. I too ponder the question from time to time, but mostly because someone else once posed the question. I do it for the feeling I get once I’m done. Sometimes I collage with a friend and she & I will create thank you collages – we passed out to nursing home workers one year. My mom creates collages with me, but she likes purpose, so she makes personal birthday cards for everyone. We cherish those cards! I don’t have children or anyone to look at my collages with me, or anyone to leave mine to either Sue. So I try not to think about it, and I enjoy the process. The nice thing is all the collage material I’ve gathered over the years, can some day just be tossed, and I’m okay with that. But for now, I relish every piece of scrap I save – I think sometimes that’s part of what I enjoy about collaging….gathering and saving all kinds of cool papers and materials that most people would just toss in the trash, and then I make something beautiful. Small pieces also make great gifts to friends.
What wonderful thoughts and ideas, Diane. Thanks so much for sharing! That’s awesome that you passed out cards you made to nursing home employees. What a thoughtful gesture! I do have children but I don’t think they will have much interest in the collages I make. I’m ok with that. I do know that there are others out there who do appreciate it, and so if my art makes it to some of them some day, I’ll be satisfied with that. 😉