All of my collages are handmade, using paper, scissors, and glue. I am constantly on the lookout for raw material, such as used books that people put out in the street. Looking for material, categorizing it, and choosing pictures is just as important to me as cutting out and combining the pictures in a collage.
Do you do commissions?
Almost never. This has two reasons: 1. My work process is 90% fueled by randomly found raw material, and not by an idea for a motif. Also, I have very specific requirements for the pictures used as raw material. 2. The collages are “just” a hobby for me and I don’t want to be under any pressure to perform. So, feel free to ask, but don’t be disappointed when I say no.
Where do you get the pictures/raw material from?
Mainly from old books and magazines. Currently, my main sources are: Boxes with free stuff people put out on the curb in my neighborhood, public bookcases (“little free library”), and the 0.20€-pile at used-book street vendors. Occasionally, I use scrapbooking paper with basic patterns as a background.
How long does it take you to make a collage?
If you only count cutting and pasting: sometimes a couple of minutes, sometimes a couple of hours, spread over days or weeks. But for me the process begins already with looking for raw material and filing it in my material collection.
How long have you been making collages?
On a regular basis since 2011. But the underlying idea of creatively repurposing found material is something that has accompanied me for much longer. I already made art from discarded paper scraps when I was a preschooler. It actually runs in the family: Both my parents make art with found material as well.
One of my first collages (“Fish with Legs”, ca. 1989)
Do you use photoshop to make your collages?
No, I only use a computer to scan the finished collages.
“For many artists, the search for ideal images and the process of cutting – guiding the scissors, deliberately cutting out images or fragments from their original context – is the true creative process, and it cannot be replaced by working at a computer.”
– S. Krohn in ‘The Age of Collage’ (2013)
Wouldn’t making digital collages give you more freedom and possibilities?
It would, and that’s exactly why I don’t do it. I enjoy “foraging for” and working with the found paper material and its physical boundaries more than using a mouse and staring at a screen. Not to mention that I’m much more skilled with scissors than photoshop.
Why don’t you look for pictures online and print them out?
The possibility of using every picture on the internet, printing it as often as I want, in every possible size, actually makes me anxious. I wouldn’t get anything done because I wouldn’t be able to decide which pictures to use. Working only with found physical material takes this decision away from me, which I find very calming.
What about copyright?
The legal situation regarding copyright violations by collage artists is quite confusing. I am aware that this is a legal grey area. Should you feel that one of my collages violates your rights as an original artist, please let me know! For the record: I do not make any money with my collages.
How do you find the pictures you need in your material collection?
When I find a promising book or magazine I roughly cut out the interesting pictures and sort them in a hanging filing system with main categories (e.g. plants, landscapes) and subcategories (e.g. trees, flowers; sky, water, land). Keeping this system in order is something I actually enjoy doing.
Which tools do you use to cut out pictures?
Mostly I use tiny scissors (skin scissors with a straight blade). I don’t like working with a scalpel/knife.
What kind of glue to you use?
I use Fixogum, a nonpermanent liquid glue that can be rubbed off. It’s similar to rubber cement.