A collage is the artistic overlaying of several materials such as paper, wood, photographs, cutouts from magazines and newspapers, textiles, and many more. The concept was invented by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso and has its roots in Surrealism and Dadaism currents of the beginning of the XXth century. The photographic collage is not only an artistic representation but also a statement for the current state of the society.
A photographic collage is a collage that uses as prime material photographs. Moreover, many artists choose to take photographs themselves. But don’t confuse the overwhelming flux of collages made with mobile apps with the meaningful purposes of a photographic collage. The collage emerged as a reaction to the First World War. It was used to challenge racism, women’s marginalization, and other political and social concerns. It’s a powerful form of art, not a way of placing together holiday photos.
Photographic collage in the digital era
The world has changed a lot from the incisively political collages of Hannah Höch (1889–1978). Today, we don’t have to cut pieces of paper from magazines or work with printed photos. We can manage the entire artistic process digitally. Without leaving an editor, we can overlay images, paint on top of them, add text, and apply special effects. Moreover, we can blend everything seamlessly or enhance the edges and give that 3D appearance of handmade collages.
You don’t need expensive or complicated editors to create collages. Try free online editors such as Canva, BeFunky, Adobe Spark, and Fotor.
Be a storyteller
A photographic collage is a visual story. The artistic process starts with creating a narrative, with a plot, characters, and location. You need to know what you want to convey and how you want to do it. Photograph anything that speaks to you even if there are just parts of objects, interesting textures, or strange lines. You need a large library of images to work with. It also helps to have images with a similar style and lighting to be able to blend them into a homogenous collage.
“What do you think an artist is? …he is a political being, constantly aware of the heartbreaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” – Pablo Picasso
Collages require creativity, the ability to deconstruct an image into separate pieces, and a playful approach to life. Observe children playing and you’ll see the quintessence of collage: anything works as long as the artist is happy and people admire their work. Furthermore, the child always has a story to tell.
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