Collage Art Techniques


Collage is a way of making a new work of art out of pre-existing materials. There are endless ways of recombining images and materials to create new meanings. Collage art allows the artist to generate a new, personalized context for visual information that may be typically viewed in only one way.


  • The word collage refers to the process of creating a work of art by reassembling various bits of visual information and pasting them onto a surface. The resultant work of art is also known as a collage. Though the practice of combining various pieces of graphic ephemera into a new whole has existed for hundreds of years, the invention of collage as a fine art form is attributed to Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the early 20th century. Collage is a technique employed in many styles of Modern art, including Surrealism, Dadaism and Pop Art.


  • A collage can be made from any materials that can be glued or otherwise adhered to one another. Papier colle is a French term that refers to a collage made from cut and reassembled fragments of paper. To make this kind of collage, you will need some visual source material, scissors or a hobby knife, some type of glue and a surface on which to assemble your collage. Source material can be, but need not be limited to, old magazines and newspapers, photographs, post cards, wrapping paper and drawings. Any type of water-based glue is suitable because it is non-toxic and doesn't have a strong odor. Support surfaces can be any type of paper. A stiff paperboard, such as cardboard or card stock will give your finished collage increased durability.


  • Cut your source material into various shapes with scissors or a hobby knife. Cut along the contours of forms in photographs or cut out abstract shapes. The greater variance of shapes and sizes you cut will enhance the visual impact of your collage. Follow the instructions on the glue that you choose to work with to achieve the best results. Most water-based glue works by applying some of the glue to the back of a piece of paper and sticking the piece into place. Overlap the elements of your collage in imaginative ways to make a most interesting collage.


  • After gluing the elements of your collage into place, seal the collage by brushing on a thin layer of clear acrylic medium. Acrylic mediums come in a variety of matte or glossy finishes. You may notice that some paper elements will buckle when they come in contact with glue. If this is happening, use less glue and gently smooth the paper element with your finger as the glue dries to press out air bubbles and wrinkles. Do not be discouraged if you don't get the paper completely smooth. Some wrinkles and bubbles are inherent in papier colle. Experiment with a wide variety of collage elements. When using materials other than paper, you will also have to experiment with ways of adhering the materials to one another and to the support surface.


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