Every February, the Edinburgh Collage Collective and the Scandinavian Collage Museum collaborate on Februllage. This month-long challenge, provides a daily prompt for collage artists around the world. It’s choose-your-own-adventure style: some artists do two collages a week and others complete a collage a day. In the past, I reviewed the prompt list and committed to the prompts that I had ideas for (usually about three collages week). This year, I decided to take on collaging every day for the whole month.
We’re a little more than half way through and I’ve learned a lot:
- I have found that incorporating literal elements is possible even within compositions that match my style. I was really nervous about some of the prompts where my first thoughts were literal, because most of my work is abstract. In January, I spent time brainstorming ideas for each of the prompts and searching through my ephemera collections for pieces I could use. The prompt for February 1st was “cat.” I don’t have a lot of cat-related ephemera. I played with the idea of an abstract cat, but didn’t love what I came up with. Then I found the illustration of “The Cat and The Fiddle” from a vintage nursery rhyme book. I had to use it. The challenge became how to make that image fit my style. Here’s how it turned out. I ended up loving it. I love the way the other shapes echo the moon (which is referenced in the rhyme). And the stitching pattern is not one I’ve used before, but I think it frames the piece well.
- Preparation is important. The time it takes to create a collage includes finding materials. While I took the time to find most of the primary pieces ahead of time based on the prompts, I left finding a newspaper for the prompt “Newspaper” until the day of. Oops. I ended up finding one in the building of my lobby. But it was definitely easier to jump into creating on the days when I already had the materials gathered.
- It’s difficult to find time to collage every day, despite the ease that comes with preparation. Typically, I collage for hours at a time and I just don’t have that most week days. In order to fit it in each day, I sometimes play with composition for a few minutes between tasks throughout the day. Other days I’ve simply waited until the end of the day and collaged after everything else is done. I wouldn’t say it’s added stress, but it also hasn’t always eased stress.
- I expected to use a wider variety of materials. Because I had pulled materials from a variety of sources for the main elements of each collage, I expected the additional ephemera I used would be just as varied. Instead, for at least the first half of the month I found myself coming back to the same materials and colors for each piece.
- Not every post has to be something I love. I often make art that I don’t love. It’s part of the process. I always learn from it. I don’t often share it (at least not anywhere permanent). Because of the nature of this challenge, I’ve shared pieces that I don’t love. And that’s okay. I enjoy getting to reflect on and share what I do love about them. While this collage based on the prompt “sisters” isn’t one that I love, I am pleased with the way the red marble paper works to frame the people in the image.
- There’s a wonderful sense of community. It’s so much fun to see artists from around the world responding to the same prompt. It really feels like we’re all doing something together.
- There’s such great variety in the ways each artist interprets the prompts. I love seeing the myriad of ways a single word can be translated into collage. I took the word “Disturbing” and ended up thinking about the ripples caused when still water is disturbed. My interpretation of ripples was my collage for that prompt. It was fun to see how different that was than many other pieces which focused a different sense of the word.
Februllage has become something I look forward to. I’m always surprised by what I learn and inspired by the community. All of my Februllage collages are on my Instagram page! Do you have a favorite?