Collage can be so simple, and so much fun! I have always loved the complete freedom of it: things don’t have to be cut out evenly, or pasted on well, or composed in a certain way. I threw away my ruler and straight edge immediately. Try it! Really! Those 5-year olds know what they are doing! Tear out some pictures or text or graphics that appeals to you. Get a glue stick. Paste on some piece of paper. That’s all you need to know. Anything can do…I use scraps of paper with interesting shapes, or the pinked edges of a tiny paper bag, or a color that catches my eye. I make collages on regular paper, on cardboard. I made a collage I love on the front of my Sudoku book! You can make them anywhere, with anything. Collages do not need to mean anything. They do not have to be conceptual. Sometimes my collages tell a story, but often they just are a bunch of cuttings or found papers that, for some reason, spoke to me. Half the time, I don’t know what they mean, or only know what they mean after I have made them.
There are many amazing and great collage artists: Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Höch, Romare Bearden, Max Ernst, Joseph Cornel, Ray Johnson, Hannelore Baron, Robert Rauschenberg, Mimmo Rotella, Pat Power, Barry Power, Lyn Bell Rose. See their work, you will be inspired and moved. But you don't have to be great; you don’t have to be artistic!
As all kindergardeners know, everyone can cut and paste. And collage is so forgiving. Jim Jarmusch captures the free-wheeling spirit of the medium by stressing the importance of authenticity, and the total non-relevance of originality:
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: 'It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.'"
It's fun to imagine things that do not exist and create them in the world. Artistic expression is a thread of continuity between all human cultures across oceans of time. Imagination is such a fundamental part of who we are that we automatically create fantasy worlds and stories while we’re asleep.