Behind the Scenes
My Collage Process and How to Get Started
Welcome back to the Flowering Jungle! Thanks so much to everyone who subscribed. It’s been so wonderful to see such an amazing response and I’m thrilled to grow this community more with you. Special thanks to my paid subscribers and any Founding Members - your print is on the way!
I get a lot of questions about my artwork process; how I work, where I source my material, how it all comes together, etc. I’ve given some short answers to a lot of these over the years in interviews and on social media but I think this newsletter is a great place to dive a little deeper and show you more specific examples.
Let’s start with a video. Here’s a very quick example of how a collage comes together. This one is for March’s paid subscriber wallpaper download and shows how once the pieces are cut and ready, ideas can begin to take shape pretty quickly.
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How I Started Collaging
I’ve always had an affinity for vintage imagery and design. In high school I would spend hours hunting through my favorite Cleveland store, Unique Thrift, with my sister looking for vintage graphic tees. I went to a Catholic high school where we were required to wear button downs and ties every day, so sneaking vintage tee shirts under my button-up was my small form of punk rebellion as you can see below.
I was super cool.
I first became interested in design after taking a Photoshop class with my friend Elliot and eventually pirated my own copy to make work at home. At the time I was in a band called Driver Side Impact (more on that in another newsletter) and my newfound design skills came in handy, creating show posters and merch to sell at our shows around Cleveland. As DSI got bigger, eventually signing to Victory Records, I made more contacts in the music industry and started designing shirts for Fueled by Ramen and even Paramore before they were super famous.
A sample of tee shirts I made for DSI.
After years on the road I was feeling burnt out, not making much music or art at the time. I had left DSI feeling overwhelmed and started to find solace in collecting and designing once more. Paper collage began to take shape for me after again spending hours back in the thrift store, but this time in the books section. The vintage tee collections of my youth had been replaced with old coffee table books. In Chicago, where I was living at the time, there was a Salvation Army nearby and I would stop there on my way home from class. The city was dreary and cold and the imagery in these books transported me to a warmer, happier place.
Amongst the books I was also collecting vinyl too and it was the image on the inside of the Rolling Stones “Their Satanic Majesties Request” that inspired me to try collaging for myself. And, the rest, as they say, is history.
Their Satanic Majesties Request inside album art.
Where I Source My Material
Short answer: Anywhere and everywhere.
Long answer: It takes a lot of work to find something good. Like I said, thrift stores are the first and often times easiest places to find vintage books and imagery. Not only do they provide the materials, but just looking around at the other objects can also inspire your design.
A sample of a prime thrift store find from the other day.
There used to be so many used book stores, hidden like gems throughout every city. Especially in Los Angeles, it was like a hunt to find them because they never had websites or advertised online, so you had to rely on driving around and spotting one on the street. Sadly, so many of those stores have closed now. Buying online can be tricky because you can’t always see inside the images in the books and many of them are grainy, so you never know what you’re getting.
A view of my studio work surface.
My favorite place to find material these days are local library book sales. Before we had kids, Kelley and I would spend hours on Saturdays and Sundays driving to book sales around California hunting for gems. My favorite place to find out what’s happening is BookSaleFinder.com. You can search by state and they’ll even give you heads up about really good ones with near-impossible-to-pass-up headlines like, “MEGA SALE!” which, full disclosure, isn’t always that ‘MEGA’. This website has saved me hours of cruising around different locations looking for library signs, though, and is my pro-tip to you as a subscriber.
How it All Comes Together
How it All Comes Together, Tools of the Trade, and How to Edit your work are all available to paid subscribers below along with a Creative Inspiration playlist and the wallpaper download from my video above. I hope you’ll consider investing in this community and if not, thanks so much for reading! I’ll see you next month in the Flowering Jungle.