Get Creative With Collage: Trends and Inspiration

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Collage is the combination of pieces of diverse materials and media, such as newspaper, magazines, package labels, fabric, paint and photographs, into one composition. The term itself derives from the French “coller,” meaning “glue.” It was coined by both Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso at the beginning of the 20th century, when collage became a distinct part of modern art.

Collage promises to be an important creative outlet for many years to come because it allows artists to explore and experiment with creating truly new, exciting and often unexpected results. This article showcases the pioneers of the collage movement, current trends and examples, contemporary proponents of collage and a wealth of resources. Please feel free to use the comments area to suggest other collages or artists you like.

You may be interested in the article Pop Art Is Alive: Classics and Modern Artworks that presents 75 outstanding examples of classic and modern pop art.

Pioneers

Pablo Picasso

Picasso

Early in 1912, Picasso created “Still Life with Chair Caning” (above) by attaching a piece of oilcloth with a caning pattern to an oval-shaped painting. It is said to be the first “modern” collage; however, the claim is not definitive, because George Braque was developing a technique using papier collé in the same year.

George Braque

Braque

Georges Braque developed paper collage (papier collé) using shreds of mixed media to produce the effect of actual paint, layered on the canvas with paint later being added. He first used this technique in his 1912 painting, Fruitdish and Glass (above).

Kurt Schwitters

Schwitters

A collage by German Dada and surrealist artist Kurt Schwitters entitled “Das Undbild” from 1919. Schwitters was famous for his collages, called “Merz Pictures,” in which he attempted to make coherent artistic sense of the world around him using fragments of found objects.

Eduardo Paolozzi

Paolozzi

Paolozzi is regarded as the father of pop art in Britain. This piece, “I Was a Rich Man’s Plaything” from 1947, is considered the earliest standard-bearer of pop art. It was created from different pieces of commercially printed paper stuck to a single piece of card.

Henri Matisse

Matisse

Late in his career, Matisse began to work increasingly with cut paper. He used sheets of paper washed over with gouache colors and then cut out his shapes and stuck them together, as shown above in a collage entitled “The Snail” from 1953.

Robert Rauschenberg

Rauschenberg

Most famous for his “Combines” series of collages (1954 to 1962), Rauschenberg extended the conventions of collage and found objects and incorporated trash and interesting urban debris, such as bottles, clocks, radios, clothing, wire and newspaper, into his work.

Richard Hamilton

Hamilton

Created in 1956 for the catalog of an exhibition in London, “Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” was the first work of pop art (or indeed collage) to achieve iconic status. It consists of images taken mainly from American magazines and advertisements.

Romare Bearden

Bearden

Bearden truly embraced the collage technique, because the layered, fragmented form allowed him to freely combine ideas, shapes and cultural references in a modern and accessible way. “The Calabash” (above) of 1970 is perhaps his most famous collage.

Current Trends

Now let’s take a closer look at current trends and examples. As you browse through the collages in this showcase, you may notice these trends:

Vintage
Jackcatcurio
The use of vintage images, advertisements and materials is perhaps the biggest trend in collages today. Many collage artists take inspiration from vintage art because of its unique style and beauty.

Mixed media
Collageaday
Mixed media is simply the use of other media, such as paint, in a collage. Common media include pencil drawings, paints, pastels, charcoals and markers.

Advertising and slogans
Katsup
Not surprisingly, slogans, branding and advertising play a major part in many of the collages featured here. Consumer culture has become a major force since its appearance in collages in the late 1940s.

Retro
Louisixteen
Retro iconography and imagery have experienced a resurgence in collage, because their style is so distinctive from today’s culture and art.

Urban
GabriLeCabri
“Found collage” relies heavily on urban wall art, such as torn posters, ads, paint, markers and signs. It is growing in popularity, partly because of artists such as Nick Riggio, who creates urban collage paintings.

Creative Collages

Inyourspace
Inyourspace

Shikaz
Shikaz

Somavenus
Somavenus

Sparklingrain
Sparklingrain

Agosbeatle
Agosbeatle

Rworks
Rwork

Kayla9283
Kayla9283

I-heart-ringo
I-heart-ringo

Bespatter
Bespatter

Thejader
Thejader

Comagirl16
Comagirl16

Rwork
Rwork

Vuhwex
Vuhwex

Medusa-terata
Medusa-terata

Somavenus
Somavenus

Bob55-joe
Bob55

The-px-corporation
The-px-corporation

Eesss
Eesss

Rworks
RWork

Hedgehogbeeblebrox
Hedgehogbeeblebrox

Mikem92
Mikem92

Somavenus
Somavenus

Aditya4art
Aditya4art

Anacronico
Anacronico

Rworks
Rwork

Lady-with-a-buzzsaw
Lady-with-a-buzzsaw

Anacronico
Anacronico

Olliep
Olliep

Somavenus
Somavenus

Gellnerism
Gellnerism

Unreflected
Unreflected

Esraerben
Esraerben

Marek Haiduk
Marek Haiduk

Igorska
Igorska

Somavenus
Somavenus

Prettylittlependant
Prettylittlependant

Ex-Agent
Ex-Agent

Papermache
Papermache

Vivi-mari
Vivi-mari

Nauright
Nauright

Rikcat
Rikcat

Infamecless
Infamecless

Littleblackbooks
Littleblackbooks

Eric Pier
EricPier

Mossy Oar
Mossyoar

Pianofuzz
Pianofuzz

Marek Haiduk
Marek Haiduk

Tutorials

Here is a selection of the best tutorials on creating outstanding collages.

  • Mixed Media
    Use a combination of acrylic paints, brushes, gel and various scraps of paper and images.
  • Digital Collage
    An in-depth tutorial from Teodoru Badiu on making his piece entitled “Atlas.”
  • Fabric Collage
    A simple way to use old fabrics to create a unique work of art.

Dedicated Blogs

And now, a round-up of the best collage blogs:

Flickr Groups

And some Flickr groups dedicated to mixed media and digital- and paper-based collage:

Contemporary Collage Artists

  • Winston Smith
    Known for his politically subversive work, Smith has been one of the foremost collage artists since the 1970s.
  • Cecil Touchon
    Founder of the International Museum of Collage and founder of the International Society of Assemblage and Collage Artists.
  • Jonathan Talbot
    Respected author on collage who has exhibited at the National Academy and the Museum of Modern Art.
  • Peter Clark
    His innovative use mark-making make for a collection that exudes character and wit.
  • Mia Moore
    California-based collage artist whose complex works meld textures of old and new paper and layers of acrylic paint.
  • Claudia Hellmuth
    A prominent artist who creates mixed media collages that are whimsical and colorful, with a dash of retro.
  • Michelle Caplan
    California-based collage artist whose complex works meld textures of old and new paper and layers of acrylic paint.
  • Dennis Sibeijn
    Netherlands-based designer working as an audio-visual designer at Technicolor, and co-founder and designer at Monument studio.

Further Resources

Related posts

You may be interested in the following related post:

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Grace Smith is a freelance writer and owner of Postscript5, a micro web design studio based in Northern Ireland, UK. Grace has a passion for UX, Branding and User Interface Design.

  1. 1

    Great Inspiration!

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  2. 2

    Great collection…just in time… :-D

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  3. 3

    No mention of Eduardo Recife? For shame…

    http://www.misprintedtype.com/v4/

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  4. 4

    Current art trends notwithstanding, it would be great to not have to worry about nudity in my newsreader. :-( The content here is great, but please keep it family-friendly. Thank you!

    -3
    • 5

      T.R. – That issue was voted on by the Smashing Mag community already and the overwhelming majority didn’t care. This isn’t a website for kids.

      0
  5. 6

    Funny cause yesterday I was creating some Christmas greeting cards with collage! Nice post btw!

    -1
  6. 7

    You forgot Edurado Recife a.k.a. Misprinted Type. He is a great brazilian illustrator.

    -1
  7. 8

    This was a GREAT post! As a collagist myself, I appreciate your fairly thorough look at the medium from it’s inception in the fine arts (it’s actually beginnings was previous to Braques and Picasso as a folk-art medium). You’ve introduced me to some folks I didn’t know about, too.

    If you care to, I have some of my own collage works on view on Facebook (not for sale, so I’m not trying to advertise ;)

    -1
  8. 9

    Really nice post with great collection.

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  9. 10

    Nice List…
    :)

    0
  10. 11

    superb inspirations and design trends time by time, even following now a days as well in famous design industry as we also using in different web designs and tutorials.

    2
  11. 12

    Really great artists and inspiration. You can create stunning websites using a collage effect, get your lighting right and it will come together beautifully. I think people should experiment a bit more with this style. I like designs that are a little rough around the edges.

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  12. 13

    This is a great article, Grace – thanks! I’ve always been a great fan of collage, traditional, digital and the two combined. Next year I’m hoping to do some sort of Moleskine project that could possibly include college so thanks again for the inspiration :)

    -1
  13. 14

    Eduardo Recife is actually one of my favorite Collage artists, not sure how I forgot to include him! His drawings are particularly interesting, for those that want to check him out his work can be viewed at: http://www.misprintedtype.com.

    Other suggestions are also welcome, as I am very interested in discovering new Collage artists.

    -1
  14. 15

    Hmm, some collages are quite good. But the ones you get from ‘professional’ artists, particularly Henri Matisse just aren’t that great.

    0
  15. 16

    Great post, Grace! I have always been a fan of collage and looking through the post only reaffirms that love! ;) Thanks!

    0
  16. 17

    Good stuff Grace! Took me back to that brief period when I was digi-scrapping like mad!! :)

    0
  17. 18

    Inspired! ;)

    0
  18. 19

    Great collection!

    -1
  19. 20

    Great resource for collage, Love it. Choc-o-block with information, visual references = brillant!

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  20. 21

    Awesome!!
    Really nice post with great collection.
    Thanks!

    0
  21. 22

    wow a real history and then an extensive list! havent read everything but a really nice way to do it, awesome!! thank you.

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  22. 23

    thanks so much for the posting my fabric collage link

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  23. 24

    You missed one of the most popular fashion examples; http://missdiorcouture.souliss.com/ Years worth of collages from vogue culture!

    -1
  24. 25

    These pieces are incredible and inspirational. Thank you.

    -1
  25. 26

    I just wish we had more opportunities to do this kind of work. Nice post!

    -1
  26. 27

    Most exciting article I’ve seen here yet…I love the sense of fun that seems to come out in collage art. Thanks for collating so many great links…I’ll definitely keep coming back to this!

    I often go here http://www.sito.org/synergy/gridcosm/ for an eye-full. Collaborative digital cut n pasting.

    1
  27. 28

    Nice post. I made about 80 collages with images taken from periodicals…
    http://www.peperuka.com/tag/collage-et-papier/page/14/

    -1
  28. 29

    Grace, how long did it take you to aggregate all those links? Great source(s) of inspiration though.

    -1
  29. 30

    Wow. HUGE collection, huh? Starred in Google Reader and Favorited!
    But I have a note: the link for “Pop Art is Alive” is broken, pointing for this one instead. I would love to see this post! :D

    -1
  30. 31

    Hi Grace,
    I’ve been working on collage-sculptures for awhile, and I thought maybe you would be interested in taking a look.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/25038365@N05/
    Happy holidays,
    Scott

    -1
  31. 32

    What about Joseph Cornell? His shadow boxes were true collages. His work was a big inspiration to me.

    -1
  32. 33

    See http://www.drouge.com, personal collage art, made in photoshop with people’s own pictures :-)

    -1
  33. 34

    Michael Albert

    May 2, 2010 10:42 am

    Greetings Collage Lovers! I enjoyed your study of collage!
    Have you seen my work? http://www.michaelalbert.com
    I have displayed some of my cereal box collages around the NY metro area over the past few years. I also have a book out about my art & story called, “An Artist’s America” (Henry Holt, 2008) and have been teaching about my Modern Pop Art at libraries all over the NY Metro area & betond lately. See my homepage for schedule. Would love to know what collage scholars think of mine!
    Best Regards,
    M
    A

    -1
  34. 35

    Hey! This article was just smashing!!!
    Thanks for pumping up collage clearinghouse!!
    web luv to you all….
    Julie

    0
  35. 36

    Bitches getting series, trololol

    0

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