On Making a Collage, with Hannah Pecyna
An interview with Hannah Pecyna and Emma Ongman conducted on Zoom, August 12 2020.
In the following interview, Studio Art student Hannah Pecyna shares her process of combining imagery from multiple sources to create one singular image; a process otherwise known as collage.
The Tate Modern describes collage as “both the technique and the resulting work of art in which pieces of paper, photographs, fabric, and other ephemera are arranged and stuck down onto a supporting surface.” If you’re interested, here is a link to the Wikipedia page on collage which covers more of its history and provides a great list of artists who are working or have worked with collage.
Shall we begin with talking about what made you interested in collage? When and why did you start working with it?
A big inspiration for my work came after I attended the FAN collage event in my first year here at Guelph. It was at that event I had created a collage I was really happy with which then sparked my interest in pursuing more. Since then, I have transitioned to creating a collage pretty much every day.
That being said, the FAN event wasn’t my first time working with collage. My mom is a 5th grade teacher who frequently creates collages with her students. I am lucky to have access to magazines and other resources she shares with her class.
What kind of resources are these? Do you find you have a preference for some collage-making tools over others?
Of course. Some of my favourite tools for collage-making include: Elmer’s glue stick - the small one with the orange cap, two pairs of scissors - one small and one large, and thick, smooth backing paper. If you use light paper, even construction paper, the glue will make it curl.
I use glue sticks as opposed to wet glue because this will warp the paper as well. Using a smaller glue stick means it’s easier to glue the smaller pieces without making a big mess. I use scissors instead of x-acto knives because I like to feel the shape I am cutting, which scissors nicely allow for. I often just use paper from my sketchbook to back the collage.
These are some great tips you are sharing! Do you have a system for composing the collage as well?
My process generally remains the same. I have a collection of magazines that I get from thrift stores or as gifts from my parents – National Geographic is my favourite. I take this stack and go through each magazine, cutting out anything I find that is mildly interesting. Then, I lay out all of these images onto a large piece of paper, either on my floor or my bed, and see how they interact with one another.
Sometimes I have a plan and sometimes I don’t. Laying everything out beside each other helps me see which sections are working, which are not, and where to go from there. I usually rearrange the scene at least thirty times before glueing it down. Sometimes, I keep it on my desk for a few days and just stare at it until I figure out what it’s missing. When it’s done, I’ll lay my collage under a textbook or two to make sure it dries flat.
It sounds like the analog process is very important to your method of work. Have you ever tried going digital at all?
I like analog because I like to be moving around and using my hands in some way. It is also easier to access. Anyone can do it. All you need is paper, scissors, a glue stick, and some magazines.
And how long does it usually take you to create a collage?
It depends on the size and if I have an idea of what I want to create before going into it. If I have an idea, it will take a shorter amount of time. If I’m going in blind, it will take at least 20 minutes for me to even figure out what I want to do.
Once I have the idea, it’ll take about an hour on average to put together. The biggest collage I’ve created so far has been 11in x14in, while the smallest was 2cm by 4cm.
Do you have any other sources of inspiration you’d like to share with the world?
I like to listen to sgt. peppers lonely hearts club band when I’m cutting out images and 100 gecs when I’m arranging and gluing.
If you create a collage, we’d love to share your creation on the Kaleidoscope Instagram. Email us a picture to email@example.com.
Hannah is currently entering her second year and is both Kaleidoscope’s and the Fine Art Network’s (FAN’s) Event Coordinator. She is also interested in printmaking and taking photographs on film. You can keep up to date with projects she is working on by following her Instagram page here.
Emma is Co-Editor of Kaleidoscope Magazine and a student in the Specialized Studio program. This year she will be one of three Juried Art Show Coordinators and is currently helping transition Zavitz Gallery to an online platform. This is her website.
Collages by Hannah Pecyna.