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10 Tips for Making Paper Collage Art

Clare Youngs mixed media paper techniques

You have your selection of beautiful, handmade papers, a pile of magazines ready to snip with a pair of scissors, and your collected ephemera neatly stored in a box. Time to get going and make a collage. But sometimes, a plain white sheet of paper can be a daunting prospect and you don’t always know where to start. We’ve turned to our author Clare Youngs for her top rules for making great collages…

 Creative Collage

1. Cut and place pieces down to nearly complete stage before sticking anything down.

2. Use your phone to take a picture you can refer to as you remove pieces to start sticking.

3. Think about your use of color. You might want to choose a range of blues and greens (colors that blend together) or go for clashing pinks and oranges. The same idea can look very different depending on the colors you use.

4. Think about the scale, for a dynamic and arresting collage. Turn things on their head pairing something that is normally small made giant size, next to something tiny that is otherwise huge.

5. Also think about repetition. The repetition of a given image or shape can also make a strong visual statement. A collage made from cut triangles or circles is simple to achieve and can be visually exciting.

6. It is important to balance the areas of space and imagery. An asymmetrical balance works well. Keeping things off-center in this way does make a good arrangement.


Creative Collage

7. Use the ‘rule of thirds’. This is a technique by which you divide your paper into three rows and three columns. The points at which the vertical and horizontal lines meet, are where the focal points of your collage should be.

Creative Collage


8. Use positive and negative shapes. When I cut a shape, I usually love the offcut just as much, and will store it away for future use. Sometimes, I use both pieces on the same collage.

Creative Collage

9. Sometimes you simply have to let go and see where the paper takes you without thinking too hard about it. The colors and shapes may suggest a direction to go in and I let them lead the way. This may sound an odd way to work, but with collage it seems to the right way.

10. The main thing to remember is that, once you know about the rules of a good composition, you can break them and still make wonderful and striking works. In collage, rules are meant to be broken. The only thing that matters is spontaneity: start cutting out shapes, moving them around, and sticking them down. Just see what happens. It can be that simple.


This blog has been extracted from Creative Collage by Clare Youngs.


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