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How I Make Collages, Fine Art Collage Techniques and Advice - The Queens and The Sylphides, Moatzart

One anecdote of how photomontage was invented as a practice involves surrealist artist Max Ernst. His account was that while looking through magazines, which had started incorporating advertisements, the number of unrelated images within this small space was absurd and nonsensical, so he began associating them. 

I enjoyed this aspect, and this is still my process for some photomontage series I have made. I will choose one issue of a magazine and build an overriding series from it.

How I decide on a theme for the collage

The theme is therefore decided for me by the magazine I use, and the issue. For example, in the case of The Queens, the issue of Vogue used for this piece involved a superfluous number of jewellery and makeup ads. I used the jewellery pieces as an ornament for the close-up photography of the face, and multiple "Queens" came about. Read more about The Queens Original Collages here.

Shop The Queens Original Collage here, The Queens Original Collage by Moatzart

How I make the collage aesthetically pleasing and how I contain the imagery in the collage so that it is not overwhelming

In order to explain this point I would like to show an example of an intentionally overwhelming collage I created.

For this piece, I tried to remove the subjective element of my collage practice by making myself an object to desire. The idea was that I would not do any editing, and do exactly what I wanted to do within this large collage. I used avenues for desire as material, namely fashion magazines old and new and the female form, an object of desire in itself. Of course, I landed into a type of kitsch.

One way I control the outcome of my collages is I keep in mind the idea of photomontage. Although there is much debate over the differences between photomontages and collages, I think the main difference is that in a photomontage, the images flow together as if the image had appeared in one go, and was like that from the beginning, whereas collages have layers of elements which are clearly pasted on top of each other.

So I enjoy finding a balance between the two, which makes the work aesthetically pleasing. You can see an example of this in The Queens (image above and below), where from Queen I to Queens IV and V, I progressively went more and more towards collage, having started from photomontage. I wanted the Queens to look more and more like they have gone awry.

How I attribute meaning to the collage

So having talked about the process of making a collage, I would now like to talk about meaning, and how to make collages be interesting pieces of fine art.

The other account of how photomontage was invented, which competes with that of Max Ernst I talked about at the beginning, is from John Heartfield. While visiting different homes in his time he noticed how some families, when they had a son die as a soldier in the war, they still included his face in family photographs taken after the tragic event, by cutting and pasting the face of their deceased son onto a different body. John found this beyond absurd, and it gave him the idea to start creating war related collage postcards which he would send to his war time friend George Grosz. This is how the two would communicate and make each other laugh, without having to discuss politics in the postcards so they would not be confiscated, yet sometimes they still would be, due to the imagery.

John Heartfield, Appeasement

I think this second anecdote speaks a lot about how to attribute meaning to collages, through extreme associations and juxtapositions. I am aware of the elements in front of me and I listen to their story. I think about what associating the different parts and characters to each other could transmit to the viewer, and exercise this power carefully.

In the collage below that I called "Lady Jesus", you can see how I played around with the male and female body, and alluded to a crucifixion through the placement of the characters. We know the story of, arguably, the most important man in history being crucified, and yet the female in the collage is in a much more natural position, as she is much more used to suffering in our more recent times, than the man. And where the man is ready to be strong, the female is ready to be weak and conform to her situation (you can compare the position of the two bodies, for example the female legs compared to the man's legs).

Shop Lady Jesus Original Collage Here, Lady Jesus Original Collage by Moatzart

I hope this article gave you a nice insight into the process of my collage practice and that maybe it inspired you to make some of your own.


Mario de Micheli - Le avanguardie artistiche del Novecento (The Artistic Avant Garde of the Twentieth Century) Published 1968 by Meridiane (first published 1966)

Surrealist Art - Sarane Alexandrian - Published October 1st 1985 by Thames & Hudson (first published 1969)

Artsy, Beyond Painting: The Experimental Techniques of Max Ernst

More Blogs by Moatzart:

Read about my printmaking technique here and here.

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