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At its simplest, a collage is a piece of art made by placing various images or materials together into one final work. But that barely begins to scratch the surface of what this incredible medium of art can be and how you can push it to create your artistic vision.
A better way to learn what collage means in art is to see it for yourself. Read on to learn from the work of real collage artists, plus plenty of collage examples to inspire you.
Before we get too far into examples of incredible collage, let’s cover some basics. First off, what is a collage in art? The collage definition, according to Merriam-Webster, is “an artistic composition made of various materials (such as paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface.”
How is collage unique to other forms of art? In most other types of art, the artist is drawing or painting all the images in the art themselves, whereas collage can remix other work into something new. The art is more about curating and arranging, meaning it’s a perfect creative practice even if you feel you can’t draw!
Trivia time: Which artist made the concept of collage into a form of art in 1912? That would be the great Pablo Picasso. Even though the artist was primarily known for his abstract paintings, he also was one of the earliest artists to formally use collage in his work, layering on everything from his own sketches to wallpaper to nails and string.
However, as with any form of art, it’s hard to tell who was truly the first to create collage, meaning other artists like Hannah Höch, Georges Braque, or Kurt Schwitters may have been the pioneers. Regardless, all of these artists had an impact on the form. Contemporary artists like Nancy Spero, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly brought collage art into the 21st century.
It’s tough to nail down one collage art definition. Instead, read on to learn about all the different types of art collage, with plenty of collage examples to inspire your own work.
Magazine Collage Art
One of the most popular ways to create collage is by combining images from books and magazines in creative new ways. If you are hoping to sell this work, make sure to use images that are old enough to be in the public domain or have a creative commons license—however, if you’re just making magazine collage art as a fun creative hobby for yourself, use any images that inspire you!
Paper Collage Art
You can also skip the pre-existing imagery altogether and create collage using different colored and textured paper cut into shapes to create scenes and abstract images.
Mixed Media Collage Art
Plenty of collage art takes it even further, incorporating other elements besides paper into mixed media collages. This could be other artistic mediums—such as paints, pastels, or inks—or even be everyday items!
Digital Collage Art
With the advent of digital tools for processing images—like Adobe Photoshop and Procreate—digital collages are becoming more and more popular. These can be similar to magazine collages, more abstract like paper-based collage, or anything in between!
Try Your Hand at Magazine Collage!
Collage Universe: Bringing Life to Printed Artifacts
Need more collage examples? Check out the work of these incredible artists working today.
1. Deborah Roberts
2. Marcos Coelho
3. Njideka Akunyili Crosby
4. Anthony Zinonos
5. Julia Malkova
6. David Crunelle
Give Digital Collage a Go!
From Paper Cut-Outs to Digital Collage: Finding Inspiration in Shapes and Colors