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. 

What is Collage Art?

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!

History of Collage Art

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.   

Types of Collage Art

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!

kid with walruses
Remix images from books and magazines to change the collage meaning, like in this surreal magazine collage scene that Maria Manske made for Morgan Lappin’s collage class.
lots of people serving dinner
Source: Instagram
Mix together as many images as you want to create your vision, like in this multi-layered magazine collage art by Morgan Lappin.

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. 

Create collage work that’s fun and bold using different textured and colored paper, like in this work by Skillshare teacher Jing Wei.
collage circles
On the flip side, you can make a very minimal art collage with paper, like in this work by collage artist Lucie Ducios for Jane Davies’ class.

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!

Collage artist Sabine Viester adds fabric and embroidered stitching to take her paper collage art to the next level as part of Lucie Duclos’ class.
the queen with a collage hat
Source: Instagram
Collage artists and Skillshare teacher Dannielle Krysa adds 3D elements like pom poms, paint blobs, and old jewelry to her magazine collages.  

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!

Digital collage can be incredibly layered, like this piece done by collage artist Monika J for Marcos Morales’ class
You could also go incredibly streamlined and simplified with how you bring images together in digital art collage, like in this piece by Skillshare teacher Evgeniya Righini-Brand.

Try Your Hand at Magazine Collage!

Collage Universe: Bringing Life to Printed Artifacts

Famous Collage Artists

Need more collage examples? Check out the work of these incredible artists working today.

1. Deborah Roberts

girl collage
Source: Deborah Roberts
Collage work by Deborah Roberts. See more of her work here!

2. Marcos Coelho

collage w
Source: Marcos Coelho
Digital collage art by Marcos Coelho. See more of his work here!

3. Njideka Akunyili Crosby

breeona taylor
Source: Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Collage of Breonna Taylor by Njideka Akunyili Crosby. See more of her work here!

4. Anthony Zinonos

yellow beach collage
Source: Anthony Zinonos
Collage by Anthony Zinonos. See more of his work here!

5. Julia Malkova

collage of lady
Source: Julia Malkova
Digital collage by Julia Malkova. See more of her work here!

6. David Crunelle

collage of madonna and chlld
Source: David Crunelle
Collage by David Crunelle. See more of his work here!

Give Digital Collage a Go!

From Paper Cut-Outs to Digital Collage: Finding Inspiration in Shapes and Colors

Written By

Erin Greenawald

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