I've been asked a lot of questions lately about collage. Most center around what to use and how to decide. It's a big subject and there were a lot of questions that I eventually answered in an ArtiPhacts page that you can read by clicking HERE. But here and now, I'd like to show you some pictures of how I work and what seems to work best for me. It boils down to sorting, and when it comes to sorting, I've found that size matters most.
I work in more than one journal at a time. There are usually more than three, but there are always at least three. One small, one medium, and one large. The largest journal on top measures 7" X 9-3/4" when closed, so a two-page spread is 14" X 9-3/4". The medium journal is 6"X 6" with a spread of 12" X 6", and the smallest measures 3" X 4-1/2". With two pages open, that's still only 6" X 4-1/2".
I start with the large. Always. The bottom piece in the pile is a 12" X 12" piece of scrapbooking paper. The image on top is cut from a magazne ad, and measures approx. 10" X 7-1/2". The scraps cut from these large pieces make up the lion's share of what ends up in the stash for my medium size journal. The bottom part of the page which was cut away from these two faces was saved for a couple of elements that fell into the "small" category. The rest was tossed into the recyling bin.
To give you a better idea of scale, here's the image from the picture directly above, placed on top of the largest journal from the first picture on top.
This is a pile of papers and an image suitable to be used or cut for my medium size journal. After use, the scraps from this pile can be used again, or if very small, will be saved with other items appropriate for the smaller size journal. There is far less waste. More items are used for collage, and fewer end up in the bin.
Here's the image from the pic directly above set on top of a page in my medium size journal. Refer back to the first pic, if necessary, for a better idea of scale.
Above are examples of pages that I might use for my smallest journal. The yellow square in the center is a post-it-note, and will give you a better idea of scale and help you to visualize just how tiny some of those snippets are. Now take a good look at the clothing in the magazine pages. Farming these for pattern, not for image, will yield a lot of interesting background material for a tiny journal. The size of the heads are a good size for the tiny journal also.
Be sure to go back to the top so you'll have a better idea of just how small these pages are. You can see that I've laid one of the heads from the pic directly above on top of the right hand page of this spread, and you can see how the size fits. It's even larger than the heads of Diego Rivera and his son as they appear in the photo that I used, and the bottom snippet of pattern is smaller than some of the pattern I could cut from the pages in the pic directly above.
Now expand on this concept. There are pages and pages of pattern in magazines, some of them large. There are pages and pages of solid color and gradients. All make good collage material. The scraps from the big pages can be used in medium size and smaller journals. What doesn't work gets tossed into a recycling bin.
I like to use a combination of pattern from a wide variety of sources on each page. There's more interest this way. The face on the left hand page of the spread above was cut from a stamped image. So many possibilities, so many combinations. Limitless.
The pic below suggests a method for finding images.
Here I've cut squares from the middle of two pieces of red paper. Both sizes are good for zeroing in on parts of an image, and to get an instant idea of how the image will look if it's cut from different parts of a whole. Image finders like these are commonly used in art and photography, and you can make your own in any size or shape that suits you.
By sorting images and papers by size first, I save the largest pieces for the largest journals, use them first, then move on to smaller, then smaller still. My stash of papers and images is large enough that I can rotate papers and images so that I'm not using cuts from the same pages in the smaller journals on the same days. I've collected it all over time. Most of the patterned papers and scrapbooking paper were given to me by manufacturers when I was on a design team. Some of it I've swapped with other artists, and lots and lots are found pattern, stripes and solids cut from magazines and junk mail.
For those who have asked, I hope this gives you an idea of what I cut, how I sort, and how I use the elements I've saved. The sorting is methodical, but in the end, the choices are very random, and I always pick what I think works together visually, rather than concentrating on subject or story matter. Personally, I'm not building stories, I'm combining elements in a manner that appeals to me. It would be fine to do it another way, but this is just how I choose to work, and it works for me.