Book Review: Collage Techniques: A Guide For Artists and Illustrators

Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators (book cover)

Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators by Gerald Brommer. 1994. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. ISBN 978-0-823-00655-7

Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists by Gerald Brommer is a surprisingly dense book about collage packed with information and examples from over 100 different artists meant to help readers (collagists and enthusiasts alike), identify their own, personal attitudes and preferences toward the art form. Brommer writes:

"Artists explore abstract, representational, semi-abstract, and nonobjective imagery through a variety of collage techniques. In some ways, collage lends itself best to dynamic and vibrant treatments of abstract and nonobjective imagery. Yet as soon as I say those words, a transparency of a representational image jar my sense with its sheer beauty and simplicity. Collage is a layering of thoughts and ideas as well as of paper, fabric, glue, and paint. As they work together, collagists amass history and emotion along with their gathered collage materials, and viewers add yet another layer of meaning. The very gathering of materials is a historical process, and collages might even be considered biographies of the lives of the artists--or even as historical artifacts themselves." (p. 9)
 Left: Canyon Country by Charles Winebrenner in Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators

Left: Canyon Country by Charles Winebrenner in Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators

Time and again throughout the book, Brommer reminds readers that personal style, attitudes, and preferences matter in the making and viewing of collage. The clearer the artist is about his or her own interests, objectives, and preferences in terms of collecting materials and executing the artwork, the more likely the finished collage will uniquely reflect the depths of his or her own personality. With demonstrations, activities, and "personal applications," Brommer shows the work of artists working within a similar theme can come up with widely varying results.

 Instruction and samples of A Basic Layering Process in Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators

Instruction and samples of A Basic Layering Process in Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators

Brommer spends a good deal of time on the elements of design (line, shape, texture, value, color, form) and the principles of design (unity, variety, balance, emphasis, movement and rhythm, and pattern) and how these concepts specifically apply to collage. Examples from collage artists world-wide, along with Brommer's clear writing style and detailed lists of materials, tools, surface options, finishes and framing all help bring clarity to the lessons.

 Left: Going to Blazes by Verily Hammons; Right: Exploratory studies with magazine papers in Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators

Left: Going to Blazes by Verily Hammons; Right: Exploratory studies with magazine papers in Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators

If you are someone who "knows what you like when you see it," but cannot necessarily say why, Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators may help you discover the vocabulary to express your ideas and opinions about the artwork you see. 

If you are an artist searching to find your own, personal "voice," this may be a book to help you question your artistic attitudes and behaviors, clarify your goals, and bring to consciousness your personal preferences when it comes to collage art. Do you see yourself as a representational artist, abstract artist, or somewhere in between? Are you a purist or are you ok with the partial or full integration of collage materials and other media? Do you respond to texture, shape, color? What would you like to say (if anything) through your artwork about nature, the human figure, society, culture?

The choices are endless...and yours (and mine) to make. THAT, to me, is the fun of it!

Have you read this book? Please let me know what I've got wrong (or right!).

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Cheers!--Janyce

 

 

 

 

Janyce Boynton