Another Peanuts remix. (More here.)
Cutting and pasting comic strips is one of my favorite ways to clear my brain. I especially like cutting up a whole page of the comics section and swapping dialogue from one strip to another. Here’s Blondie with dialogue from Garfield:
Then I love taking the scraps and making new one-panel cartoons:
I’ve been trying to get my 5-year-old interested in collage. Turns out the answer is fart jokes. So now we’re “collaborating” on this very important project. His Bernie Sanders collage is delightful modern dada:
“A very sensible day yesterday. Saw no one.”
—Virginia Woolf, Jan. 31, 1939
One of my favorite prompts inThe Steal Like An Artist Journal asks the reader to remix a comic strip:
My son got a daily Peanuts calendar for Christmas, so for fun I’ve been taking the old pages and making collages out of them:
This one is made up of a bunch of extra leftovers:
I really love how surrealistic they get when you squeeze two images of the same character into one panel:
And how just swapping a few bits of text can change a strip’s meaning completely (and make it autobiographical — this was originally about Charlie Brown waiting for his dad to get off work):
This one starts with a piece of text from some litter I found on my walk:
It’s interesting how in the process of cutting it up, you really learn a lot about Schulz’s strip: how wordy the balloons are (something Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller famously complained about), how everything belongs to one world and is easily re-arranged and re-combined. Heck, even the characters can be spliced into each other: here’s Charlie Brown with Linus’s hair:
It seems like this kind of thing would be a great exercise for the classroom. I’ve done a variation in workshops in which participants take single panel cartoons from the comics section and swap the captions, like this example in Gary Larson’s The Prehistory of the Far Side:
The Far Side and Dennis the Menace used to be side by side in the Dayton Daily News. One day, back in August of 1981, someone “accidentally” switched their captions. What’s most embarrassing about this is how immensely improved both cartoons turned out to be.
I still find collage — glueing one thing to another — the most restorative thing I can do to get back to a good place in my work. It never fails to get me unstuck. These two collages were, fittingly, made from a Restoration Hardware catalog. The robot above was made for my 5-year-old, and the comic below was art directed by the same 5-year-old. (It’s been a happy, lazy Sunday.)
My sons draw all the time, but they don’t seem to care one bit about their drawings after they make them (I envy them), so they leave piles of finished and half-finished drawings everywhere. I go through them and find scraps of construction paper that I want to paste in my notebook. Sometimes I’ll make a collage out of them:
And sometimes I’ll actually use one of the drawings as a writing prompt, like this scribble of the digestive system Owen drew:
In a way, the page becomes a collaboration between us, even though I rarely ask their permission. See also: Orchestrated drawings.
The art of collage, for me, is mostly one of contextomy and juxtaposition: you put two things next to each other that aren’t really supposed to be together and you get a new thing. (1 + 1 = 3.)
I’ve been obsessed lately with the simplest cut: what’s the least amount of cutting or folding or editing that you can do for maximum effect?
I really got thinking about this when a woman in one of my workshops made the newspaper headline collage above. (An exercise from The Steal Like An Artist Journal.) It was so simple and funny it was like a gag out of a Nancy comic strip.
For a more visual example, here’s a picture of a sunset and moon that I took at the same time, but edited together with Instagram’s simple Layout program:
The simplest, cleverest expression of 1+1=3… that’s what I really love.
There are stone monuments scattered throughout my neighborhood — fancy signs announcing the parks, etc. I find them sort of hilarious — they’re so serious, and they look like big tombstones. (They had to cost a fortune!) I like to go around and take pictures of them and then make a game of cutting them up so they announce other things. The only rules are that I never add, only subtract, and I try to make the edits as simple as possible.
(For this one I cheated just a bit and rubbed out letters with the clone stamp in Photoshop.)
Filed under: de-signs