by Luis Martin / The Art Engineer
When you make something with your hands, you leave your fingerprints all over it. When you make a collage, you leave part of your story in the artwork. The choice of images you have gathered tells us, the viewers, all about the world you live in and the world you are actively creating. With each cut and tear, you devise a language and voice that is all your own. While two people might start with the same image and materials, their POV makes way for two very different artists to emerge. Artists, unlike the rest of society, are compelled to create, regardless of process or outcome. That is the true definition of an artist, not art school degrees or gallery representation, nor accolades or fame. An Artist is the person who answers the call to create.
The importance of collage is not contingent on how “good” the artwork you create is or if you are even cutting paper. It is all collage, even when you create digitally or choose to wear a baseball hat with a tuxedo. The power of collage is in the ability to see potential in the parts of the greater whole and in the discarded. Collage artists can look in a garbage bin and find colors and shapes with which to create worlds of wonder. Collage making is a superpower that can and must be transferred into our daily lives to overcome our self-destructive society. Not all democracy or capitalism is futile, we can snip, engineer and collage an environment in which to thrive. If not on a global or national level, then let us put our talent to use in our immediate communities and create safe spaces. Collage and assemble an ecosystem where you are supported and support each other, then scale up.
As technology attempts to leave our humanity behind, by way of algorithms and A.I., it is the artist and only the artist who can reflect that which we can never leave behind, our human soul. In the past, this was left to the holy ones of churches and the elders of our tribes. Today, the clergy has perverted itself and we have played ourselves by filtering and editing timeless wisdom into social media bits. Our collective obsession with post-apocalyptic scenarios has manifested. Just like in the movies we glorify and the games we play, it happened as we pictured it. The world shut down, millions died, we rioted on the streets. It got ugly. It is ugly. If you want to survive the horrors of this moment, don’t go back. Don’t trust the world we have inherited like a spoiled trust fund baby, satisfied with the status quo. Question the systems we are born into and how we feed into them.
In my collage workshops, I ask people to start by looking around in magazines, books and in my Collage Dream Kits to collect images that move them. It does not need to mean anything right away. Just gather what calls your name and something you want to play with. I am asking you to collect ideas now, and collage them into your life. Live out a magnificent slice of karma of your own design. Tear yourself like paper. Juxtapose yourself away from the familiar and place your bare body on a far away beach, feel like the cherry on top of a new life. Just as we visualized, produced, and acted out the current dystopia into reality, you can collage a door, a raft, or a map to your very own promised land. It starts with a Collage Dream.
Collage matters now because each collage is a map of the artist’s mind and soul, reflected in pieces of the existing world in the printed form. This means that the pieces are all there for you and anyone looking. There is nothing more powerful than a person who can see themselves clearly. That the elements in a collage already exist means that the artist can step out into the world and find “it” in the “real”. You can experience that authentic self and idiosyncratic vision that is the “calling”. This is where the magik is. Like every good map, if followed, collage and the creative process will lead you to where you need to go. Collage, like all forms of art, can be a divine and revolutionary act. Collage now, and remember that this is a low risk and high reward activity with huge dividends. Share your work and process, knowing that you are the spark that can ignite a thousand flames without ever dimming or losing your own light.
Change your world. Collage. Start here:
Take + give power now. Find an image that represents something that scares you. Be bold and take a picture of a person in your personal history that represents fear and oppression. Now tear it in half. Tear it into a hundred pieces. Shout. Curse. Cry. Wiggle. How did that feel?
Glue it back together with elements that make you laugh. Perhaps a circus scene, or ostrich feathers. You are in control. That is the power of the Artist!
Rinse & repeat.