About the Art
by Angie Cook
Collage: The Process Explained

Definition quoted from ARTLEX, http://artlex.com/

collage - A picture or design created by adhering such basically flat elements as newspaper, wallpaper, printed text and illustrations, photographs, cloth, string, etc., to a flat surface, when the result becomes three-dimensional, and might also be called a relief sculpture. Most of the elements adhered in producing most collages are "found" materials. Introduced by the Cubist artists, this process was widely used by artists who followed, and is a familiar technique in contemporary art.
"Collage" was originally a French word, derived from the word coller, meaning "to paste."
(pr. kuhl-lahzh')
The Process

1- Inspiration
   Sources of inspiration:
   a- a thought, memory, experience, dream...
   b- materials such as found objects, natural items, art media... 
   c- the processes of the art form itself

2- Developing the Idea
This can take a long time to materialize and can change many times during the production.
It helps to sketch, make notes, and list what is needed, but even after careful planning the art usually evolves into something different than my original plan, as it should. 

3- The Search
Finding the right materials can be fun or frustrating, and choosing the right art media to work with those matierials can be a challenge. Sometimes this is what makes or breaks the work. Artistic knowledge of how the materials and mediums interact is very important.

4- Preparations
All of my collage works require preliminary steps. Sometimes it is the of preparation of special papers, manipulating photos or drawings in graphic programs on the computer, or drying or preserving natural elements that will be used. There is always the need of finding the right support and applying grounds. Depending on the complexity of the collage, the preparations can take months to complete.

5- Creation
As you can see, 'assembling' is only part of the process. After all the preliminary steps, the artist is finally ready to shape something whole from the fragmented vision of the creative inward eye. The pile of collected materials are always more than I will ever use. This makes the matter of 'choice' one of the most difficult stages of all. Artistically speaking, this is my moment of great anticipation... the thrill seeker's moment of adrenilyn rush. It is the challenge of creating something beautiful from the chaos..... that penical between despair and hope. That is the part of collage which carries a deeper meaning.... my life song. It is too profound and too personal to explain. 

Other Factors

  • Design and Skill
Aside from the creative 'understanding' one comes to with their chosen art form, the collage artist has to have an understanding of composition. It is crucial to understand the elements and principles of design, because the work can fail if an artist does not know how to unify the various parts. This is why many become discouraged with the art of collage. Layering dynamics is equally important. This goes beyond which adhesive works for each type of material, or what to glue down first. Collage requires a combination of skill, technique, and artistic intuition. 
  • Creating from Clutter
It also demands patience and the ability to manage the mess of collecting, sorting, and storing all the materials. Space is another factor. The collage artist has to store: supports (ranging from canvas, heavy papers, or boards); files or boxes of various paper types; various art media (acrylic paints, gels, and mediums; watercolor paints, inks, pastels... and more); the non-art objects, which can range from fabrics, to cut outs of images and text, to dried leaves and broken jewelry. There is no limit to the types of material a collage artist might use. My family helps me in the 'great search', making my storage system even more demanding as all these neat treasures float in from unknown places.  
  • Perserverence
Trial and error, and occasional failure are commonplace in collage work, therefore the love of collage has to be larger than the ego of the artist. This is an art form full of problem solving and innovative risk taking. It offers mystery, hidden secrets, and adventure. I never really know how it is going to turn out, but even if it is less than I had hoped, the journey is always fun. 
  • Free-form, Open to All
Even with all of the requirements and processes, collage is a freindly art form. It is one that invites children and the non-artist to explore. More and more crafters are using collage in creative explorations... such as scrapbooking, journaling, and card making. You will notice advertizing design often engages the art of collage to get the message across, which reinforces my own conviction of the expressive possibilites for communicative content of this art form. Collage, as an art form that is here to stay. It is one of boundless possibilities and will most likely never be nailed down to any one set of rules or conditoins. It is a free-form of artistic expression. Only the artist can say what is next.