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How to Start Making Collages

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Looking for a way to digest the news and make sense out of everything going on in the world — or to just create something beautiful? Turn your newspaper into a collage. It’s a great way to make a time capsule that archives memories, records newsworthy events and tells a story from your point of view.

To get started, gather your supplies. All you need is a newspaper, a pair of scissors (ripping by hand will work in a pinch), glue or glue stick and a piece of paper, a journal or canvas on which to build your collage.

Read through the newspaper however you’d like — starting with your favorite section, in order or jumping around. As you read, cut out things that you find interesting, beautiful, timely or compelling. Do you want to create a collage of things that resonate with you? Or to sum up the top news stories in an artistic format? Keep an eye out for relevant words, phrases or designs as you scan.

It’s helpful to gather a variety of elements as you make your way through the paper. Having text in different styles makes the collage more interesting, and layering visuals such as illustrations or photographs adds dimension and aesthetic appeal.

Once you’ve assembled your clippings, the fun of designing your collage begins. Start by laying down your biggest or visually busiest pieces first without glue, to lay the foundation for your collage. Try spreading out different styles, colors or shapes, or grouping them together for greater impact. Once the biggest elements are arranged, glue them down as your base layer.

Next, start adding words. Try arranging headlines and pieces of text in different ways to see what works best — vertically or horizontally, grouped together by theme, connected to read like a paragraph or randomly as they happen to fit.

ImageA collage lets you tell the story of our times through your own lens. 
Credit…Rachel Dawson

Consider the story you want to tell, the statement you want to make or the overall goal of your collage. Do you want to emphasize your beliefs? Do you want it to look beautiful and balanced? Do you want to make sure every piece fits on the page? Keep your vision in mind as you assemble everything.

As you start collaging, feel free to cut sentences into smaller pieces, trim extra space off clippings so they fit or go back to your newspaper for another round of gathering content. If you can’t find a specific word or phrase you want to include, you can cut individual letters out and create your own. There are no strict rules here. Your collage is yours to play with, so let this process be fluid and fun. No piece of this puzzle needs to be perfect — the point is to make something new and enjoy the process.

You can glue clippings down as you go, or wait until everything is arranged just right before you commit it to the page.

Once you have everything glued down, take a step back and admire what you’ve created. Does it need anything else? Do you want to add the date so you can remember when this snapshot as made? Do you need to add scraps of color for balance, or trim any rough edges? Don’t overthink it and trust your gut. You’ll know when your work of art is complete! Once it’s done, snap a photo to share, frame your collage, or flip the page in your journal to get ready for your next creation.

The art of collaging is an imperfect, sometimes messy and always interesting experiment. Even starting with the same supplies, every collage will tell a different story. What is yours?

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