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reflections on the tangible

by Luis Martin / The Art Engineer 



The importance of collage is not dependent on how good of an artist you are or if you are even cutting paper. It is all collage, even when you create digitally. The power of collage is in the ability to see potential in the discarded and in parts of the greater whole. Collage artists can look in a garbage bin and find colors and shapes with which to create a work of art. This ability is a super power that can and must be transferred into our daily lives to overcome our self-destructive society. Not all of democracy or capitalism is futile, we can snip, collage and engineer 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. Collage and assemble an eco system where you are supported and support each other, then scale up. 



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 art work.  The choices of images you have gathered tell us, the viewer, all about the world you live in and the world you are actively creating. One cut and tear at a time you devise language and voice all of your own. While two people might start with the same image, two very different artist emerge with either collage. 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, not accolades or fame. An Artist is the person who answers the call to create. 

As technology attempts to leave our humanity behind, by way of algorithms and A.I. generated art, 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 men 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 in to 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. If you survived the horrors of that 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 workshops I ask people to start by looking around in different magazines, books and my Collage Dream Kits and collecting images that move them. It does not need to mean anything right away, just collect what calls your name and something you want to play with. I am asking you, now, to collect ideas, and collage them into your life. Live out a magnificent slice of karma with radiant capitalism. Tear yourself from the familiar and place your bare body on a far away beach feeling 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 map to your very own promised land. 

Collage matters now, because each collage is a map of the artist’s mind and soul, reflected in pieces of the world through printed form. There is nothing more powerful than a person who can see themselves clearly. The magic lives in the tangible elements the artist has chosen to find reflection in. That the elements in the collage already exist, means that the artist can step out into the world and find it in the “real” to experience their authentic self and idiosyncratic vision.  Like every good map, if followed it will lead you to where you need to go. Collage, like all forms of art can be a divine and revolutionary act. If you collage remember that this is a low risk, high reward activity with huge dividends. Share your work and process knowing that you are the spark that can ignite a thousand flames with ever loosing your light.

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