How I Collage

7:25 PM

A look into my creative process. By Stephanie Castaneda

I love collages. If you stalk YouthCake on the regular, it's obvious- almost every visual is a collage (by yours truly). I started making collages around 2 summers ago, and I've gotten it down into a very streamlined process. I can now whip up a pretty cool collage in about an hour, where before it would take me days to execute an idea. So how do I do it?

First, I gather my materials: stacks on stacks of magazines, glitter, paint, colored paper, markers, you name it. Where, might you ask, do I get all this junk? Lucky for me, my local library gives away old magazines (Vanity Fair, Vogue, miscellaneous zines) and books; and my best friend also gifted me with over 20 magazines remaining from her terminated Elle subscription. I also tend to pick up any form of free print. If it has paper, text, and no price tag, I grab it. You never know what inspiration you can find even in the most mundane of places. With my materials set, I get to work.

There are different situations that can occur once I start. For one, I can go in with a specific theme in mind, which can be a really vague word or something hyper specific. Then I go into my archives and try to find certain images that fit that theme. Today, I went in with "youth" in my mind and, while flipping through the pages, two sort of "sub-themes" emerged- one for its own distinct collage. I got this very Valley California-type idea with princess themes, jewels, and pink hair. Something pretty shallow and self conscious. I also got a darker type of youth that's sort of skater boy: psychedelic artwork, school rebellion, stuff from "Fight Club", Led Zeppelin, grunge music icons. Another situation that can occur is that I work the collage around a certain image, so I look for things that can complement the picture. When having a theme along the way that can also happen- that's usually what happens, anyways. An alternate situation is that I truly have no idea what to make. Then, I just dive straight into my archives to look for something cool that I can build around. When I have my images, I cut everything up. While doing that, I think of ways to format it so it can mesh well together. Finally, I go in with the images to start; sometimes incorporating some of my own artwork, quotes, and additional supplies. Very rarely, sometimes I just feel slumped and uninspired, so I stow all the loose images into my little curated file to mull over. My curated file is a folder in which I store collage "sets" that I'm not quite sure how to arrange, cool images I'm hoping to make stuff around, and general things like typed up articles, headers, and diamonds (which I really love using). The folder is great because if I'm pressed for time, I can go straight there without dragging out this entire process. On birthdays, sometimes I just grab a couple of photos I know look good, arrange them arbitrarily make myself a collage. Then there's the treacherous world of online collaging.

Online collaging is an endeavor that I haven't fully emerged myself in, but can be really fun. Usually I start with a very specific theme- the internet is boundless, so it can feel overwhelming to just dive in. However, if I do decide to go that route, I browse through Polyvore; which provides a good, select group of cool photos to go based on. But with my K-Pop and Bonnie & Clyde collage, I knew exactly the images I wanted to use, the colors, and the vibes/ mood. Then, I use google slides, crop my pictures accordingly using Lunapic, and edit them on BeFunkyThat's it! So you can see, the different things that can occur exist more on a spectrum than in its own tight box.

I think the process can apply to other artistic creations, too. You just have to keep your mind open and your gears always turning. Never let anything even slightly inspiring wash over you and go away. Always seize it and maximize it. For example, on Thursday I was outside after volunteering at my library, waiting to get picked up. I then saw the American flag waving around. You know, how they always put it up in public places. The sky was a nice afternoon shade of blue, and I was singing "National Anthem" by Lana del Rey. It was a cool feeling, so I whipped out my phone and recorded that flag. Nothing special, it was literally on the Snapchat camera. Slapped a filter on it (going with the whole Lana theme), and turned it into a GIF. Now I'm building and entire article off it. American essence or something. Even this article was done on a whim while collaging. Point is: whims are the coolest, so act on them! It's collaging for me, but for you it can be photography or writing. Don't let anything go! 

Good luck!

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