How to Collect Collage Materials for a Project

“Where do you find all your collage stuff?” As I explain my artistic process and also help viewers discover certain elements in my paintings (this is so fun!), this question is often voiced. It’s a great question, really. Where DO I get all this stuff?

In this post, I’m going to share my methods of collection so you can get to know my work better and maybe learn some tricks of your own.

On site-- When I visit places, especially ones where I know I won’t be returning for quite some time, I will pick up magazines, newspapers, trail maps, menus, tickets and other items that help to create a sense of a place and my experiences there. I’ve also started to take photos of signs and other elements that are not for the taking. This gives me a good base for a series of work about a particular location. I like to look for things that are unique and catch my attention. It’s like finding a treasure!

Friends-- I have a good friend that gives me her old magazines when she is done reading them and another friend that has given me old sheet music she no longer wants. You will find that friends are happy to help you build your collection.

Make my own-- When I can not find just the right piece of paper for a background, I will make it. I have large sheets of plain paper that can easily turn into designs and text when necessary. I keep permanent pens and acrylic paints and colored pencils on hand just for this sort of thing. I also create stamps with found objects (like bubble wrap) and this can make an interesting pattern or design.

Internet-- Obviously, this is something that needs to be done with care. This is something I do when I need specific items, such as icons, logos, etc. Believe it or not, I use a lot of clip art because it is safe to use and doesn’t infringe on anyone’s copyright. I will also look for vintage photos and posters or patterns and designs. This is also a great place to find specific photographed things you might not have on hand. If you need a photo of a horseshoe or tea pot, you can find it here. If you are in doubt about copyright, either skip it and find something that is unattached to anyone, or find the designer/artist/photographer and simply ask for permission. In most cases, I’ve found that folks are honored to have their items used in your art and are happy to accomodate.

Home Library-- We all have random things lying around our homes that can become part of your collage library. Children’s artwork, books from college or grade school...you can always scan the image and copy it so you don’t have to use the original.

Thrift stores/Craft Stores-- Thrift stores are great for looking for books, magazines and fabric that you might like to use. Plan to take some time looking, but the hunt is part of the fun. You can also utilize craft stores and their scrapbooking section. There are paper designs galore and these are great to have on hand as simple design elements and “filler” pieces to help accentuate the more personal and specific pieces of materials you use in your backgrounds.

Collage collection is an ongoing process and an artistic one. I’m a constant treasure hunter and I hope this helps you seek out your own paper valuables too.

And now that I have you on a search for everything and anything paper...I’ll be writing a post about how to organize it all! Stay tuned!

Do you have any tips for collage collection? Please share!

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