Collage Tip #4: Creative Ways to Play with Text in Your Collages

Untitled, Mixed Media Journal Page, November 27 2009

Untitled, Mixed Media Journal Page, November 27 2009

Here are a few exciting ways to play with text and numbers in your collage and mixed media art:

1. Create text using “chance”: cut out words from newspapers, magazines or books.  Place them in a bag and randomly select words in the order they come out for your piece.  This technique was popularized in the early twentieth century by Dada poets.

2. Compose an image around a favourite quotation.

3. Use the Stream of Consciousness writing technique: take two minutes and write non-stop about a subject or the first thing that comes into your head without editing anything and use it in your work as cut up segments or slightly hidden under a layer(s) of background paint.

4. Use hand written text from old greeting cards, letters or postcards. If you intend to cover these with wet media, test a small section first to see if it blurs – although sometimes I like the effect of blurred text in a piece.

5. Adding catchy subtitles, phrases from advertising and television shows or song lyrics can make your collages more dynamic.

6. Use another language to add extra layers of visual and cultural intrigue to your art.  Here, I think it helps to be conscious of the meaning of the foreign terms you’re using so you don’t offend others or appear ignorant.

7. Add mathematical, scientific, astronomical symbols and musical notation to your work… these can be used in thoughtful, inventive and even humorous ways… scientific and mathematical formulas can take on emotional qualities they don’t normally have when used in a conventional way.

8. Juxtapose (contrast) different styles of lettering ie. handwritten (with non-dominant hand as well); typewritten, stickers, words from magazines or newspapers, words on dynamo tape, stencilled letters, rubber stamps, date stamps, graffiti, etc. to add various flavours and moods to your work.

9. Hand write words in different colours, sizes and shapes to emphasize important words or have writing follow the linear contours of the forms in your piece.

If you’d like to share some ideas on this subject, I’d be happy to hear from you!

2 comments to Collage Tip #4: Creative Ways to Play with Text in Your Collages

  • Hi Michelle! There are such great tips here for using text. One of my favorite things about your collage work is the way you subtly incorporate text. The way you often weave and curve your handwritten thoughts throughout the composition really adds an appealing and personal narrative element to the work. Love it and thanks again for sharing these tips. ~ Elaine

    • Michelle

      Hello Elaine! Thanks for your kind words about my work… I really love the effect of “weaving” text around the contours of images in my collages… it’s so observant of you to note that! For me it’s like making a secondary contour drawing around the image… besides adding information, in some cases, it can also give the image a ghost-like quality. Best, Michelle

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