Papers for Contemporary Collage

November 8, 2013

We haven’t got enough PAPER

I teach a collage class at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY. We have a new collage project each week. Almost every project has paper as the primary media.

We are half way through the fall term and have run out of magazine papers – our primary source for collage. I supplied the magazines at the beginning of the class term, and the students have depleted the supply. We need more magazines.

I would like the students (or a donor) to replenish the supply. I don’t want junk magazines. Cheap paper is a waste of time. It’s very hard to create collage with cheap paper. It curls when you apply glue. It’s hard to cut and tear. It doesn’t hold up over time. It looks cheap.

grid collage fall 2013 PAC 680

Nikkal, sample grid collage

I want students to work with quality magazines papers that are printed with rich color, offer strong graphic design, and use creative text. Replacing the ArtForum magazines would cost me much more than I want to spend. I would like every student to donate or find a donor neighbor. So many people toss away magazines or put good magazines into recycling bins. Collage artists recycle. We need good magazines.

Nikkal, a swell guy, paper collage

Nikkal, a swell guy, paper collage

Magazines I like include art, photography, internet, home decor,  fashion, garden design, nature and more. The paper quality is important. ArtForum, ArtNews and Art in America have good paper. I like Vogue, Elle, Elle Design, W and Interview magazine. National Geographic is excellent for paper quality, color, nature and animal images.

I will ask my friends and neighbors for donations. I would like my students to do the same.

Nikkal, sample line drawing with stamp pattern

Nikkal, sample line drawing with stamp pattern

I’m a snob for good paper. In my own collages, in addition to magazine papers, drawings, and my painted papers, I use artist hand-made imported printmaking papers because I love the range and contrast of whites. A lot of my white papers go in as the background layer in a collage.

Good Paper is Expensive. Good paper makes a Good Collage.

Another Way: Create Our Own Papers for Collage

Nikkal, sample magazine paper for collage

Nikkal, sample magazine paper for collage

Nikkal, magazine paper scan, inverse pattern color

Nikkal, sample magazine paper, inverse pattern color

In recent class projects we created large collage papers with multiple small magazine papers.  See the first image – a grid collage above. It’s a substrate for a figure collage. In another class, we created a crazy quilt collage with overlapping patterned papers.  See my sample image below in red, black and white. I will add another layer.

In a third class, we created a background collage for a landscape. We used pieced papers from a lot of different magazines.

I asked the students to keep the originals and reproduce multiple copies in black and white and color. The copies become the resource media for additional collages: as collage paper and as  a paper substrate (bottom layer). Papers can be reproduced from the original as needed. If the original collage is copied digitally, it can be reproduced in a copy shop in very large format. You can play with the image and color in PhotoShop.

Nikkal, crazy quilt collage

Nikkal, crazy quilt collage

I like to include drawing with collage.  See the 3rd image above that I made on artist paper and stamped all over with a bird pattern. I cut and paste small sections whenever I want line drawing in the collage.

I included two images that are computer scans of a rug (advertisement) from a design magazine. I like the diamond pattern and needed one to be positive (black on white) and one to be inverse (white on black).

4 Goals for the Class

Create projects that create (generate) papers. Create projects that repurpose and embellish papers. Discuss how to sort and organize collage media. Discuss why it’s important to collect, create, reproduce and build inventory for collage – because it saves time and money, it makes your media personal (you can pick the colors you like),  and it’s much better to have all your papers available when you are ready to work .

Please add your comments and suggestions on how to hunt and gather materials for art projects. Thank you for sharing.

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