Work / Opinion

Avant-garde collage: the five most progressive artists, chosen by DR.ME

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DR.ME: Cut That Out

Co-author of Cut That Out, a book charting contemporary collage in graphic design, and one half of creative studio DR.ME Mark Edwards picks out the artists pushing boundaries in the medium.

In the past decade, collage has moved forward rapidly. You could put this down to the digital age, people having access to more imagery through endless online stock photography sites, or perhaps the advancement of technology, copious filters and editing tools at our fingertips. Today collage is a very broad term and can no longer be considered as simply cut-and-paste. It can encompass assemblage, photomontage, mixed-media installation, digital manipulation or painting. It’s being used in new ways all the time, not just in the art world but the commercial world too, and is therefore being pushed into new unexpected places where it has to be smarter and more progressive to answer various briefs and questions set out by record label bosses, magazine editors and advertising execs.

To hark back to Max Ernst, an artist who could perhaps see into the future: “Collage is the noble conquest of the irrational, the coupling of two realities, irreconcilable in appearance, upon a plane which apparently does not suit them.”

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Mat Maitland: The Element Yes for Meanwhile

Mat Maitland

Mat’s work comes from a very definite appreciation of fashion, high gloss, shiny objects clashed wonderfully with airbrushed skies, indescribable rivers flowing into oozing egg yolks whilst birds and animals of prey sit side by side with disembodied arms and torsos of models.

What I think makes Mat’s collages really unusual is that although they are clearly digital, they still have a feel of the handmade to them, the level on depth for example on the Michael Jackson collage for Clash magazine is incredible and really challenges the comprehension of the viewers mind which is where collage really comes into its own.

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Inge Jacobsen: Lindberg campaign

Inge Jacobsen

The work that Inge creates lives in two worlds, one is traditional collage in the combining of two images and the second is tapestry, delicately weaving thinly cut strips together into intricate patterns. What really sets her apart is the combination of the two, where images distort and glitch into glorious chequered patterns.

As well as the visually arresting side of the pieces she creates, each of the works has a slightly disturbing haunting element to them, be it from an eye not quite seen in an editorial illustration for Tank Magazine or a fractured ear for Calvin Klein, Inge’s work always sits somewhere unexpected.

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Robert Beatty: Rainbow Arabia for F.M. Sushi

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Robert Beatty: Currents for Tame Impala

Robert Beatty

Robert’s work is super interesting, it almost isn’t collage when you first view it — not in its most traditional form anyway. It’s when you sit with it that you realise that due to its composition and different textures that it most certainly is.

Take his work on the cover for Tame Impala’s Currents, a silver orb slips through an otherworldly optical purple slick revealing a red to orange fade underneath, the combination and collaging of different elements transporting the viewer to another more psychedelic place that sits perfectly with the music that it’s made for.

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Bill Kouligas & Kathryn Politis: I Love You, Please Love Me Too

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Bill Kouligas & Kathryn Politis: Repas Froid for Ghedalia Tazartes

Bill Kouligas & Kathryn Politis

The work created by Bill and Kathryn for Bill’s record label PAN has always been a firm favourite of ours. It’s a combination of often-vintage found imagery on the actual record sleeves which then has a physical overlay of various screen printed optical patterns on the see through disco bag.

Obviously the sleeves are beautiful things when viewed onscreen but they truly come to life when seen in the flesh, the patterns moving and distorting the image when you remove the record sleeve from the disco bag. This really takes the collage to a different level as not only is it visual but subliminally it encourages you to buy the physical record, which, can only be a good thing.

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Sebastian Haslauer: Transit

Sebastian Haslauer

We’ve been fans of Sebastian’s work for many years and included him in an exhibition in New York a few years ago called Happy Accidents. His work is certainly on the more left-field of collage works from the book, combining not just purely image with image but often image with paint, image with paper and even bringing bits of himself in – his tooth can be found in Setzkasten.

The hugely tactile quality of his finished pieces has led him to work with clients such as Neon, Nike and he also often collaborates closely with the great Hort (who also feature in the book).

Cut That Out is published on 29 August by Thames & Hudson.