Dynamic Design in Collage with Books (Three Day Workshop)


In this 3-day workshop, we seek to unravel the mysteries of great abstract composition using collage processes and the fascinating material of deconstructed old books. Collage is the ideal medium for exploring composition and I am loading our backpack with 3 powerful “technologies” to make your exploration fruitful.


Abstract composition is such an amorphous thing. I felt very drawn to it but very lost when I began this work, so I really began to look at visual structures that artists were using to organize the space. I needed a direction to head in and I will be offering a variety of these for you to explore in our 3 days together. Structures are illustrated with multiple variations to invite your creativity to use them strictly or loosely, as you prefer.


While there are a handful of principles of design, some are more important than others—- we will start with the most powerful ones. These fundamental principles will strengthen your work and give you a foundation to build on.


If Structures and Design are the skeleton and muscles of our work, Materials is the beating heart. You will begin with a curated, pre-cut, massive pile of collage elements I have created. These collage elements are culled from hundreds of paperback and hardback covers and shaped with an eye to color, texture, shape and size. Beneath this visual feast is the more subtle context of history and meaning running through these fragments of our human society. You may want to use it or not, but this extra layer of “found materials” is definitely interesting. The idea is to dazzle your eyes and mind immediately, and to create an environment where combining and rearranging is easy and fun.

Structures and Design will evolve each day, but Materials will be the fun part. The first day I provide, succeeding days you learn how to make your own as we delve deep into the possibilities of The Book As Material:

Paperback covers, made from printed card stock, supply a lot of color typography, and words to play with. They are easy to cut, tear, crease and fold, sand, and even sew. For our purposes, old is more interesting than new, but it is particularly so for hardbacks. Old hardbacks are covered completely in fabric and, if they are quite old, can be beautifully printed. You will learn how to disassemble them, what bits to save, and the treasure of texture to be found in the dried adhesives and dangling threads.

Our end product will be a series of 9” x 12” book collages on paper. Each day includes an end of day critique to really look at what is working and brainstorm ways to make the work even stronger. Each student will be provided with a presentation NOTES pdf that covers course material.

Download Supply List

Medium: Collage
Skill Level: All

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