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Exploring New Design Concepts Via Collage

Exploring New Design Concepts Via Collage

I recently completed a short course designed to help generate new design ideas using collage techniques and I thought it would be good to share what I made of it all. The course was split across three weeks, attendance for one full day each week. Each session explored new techniques and also left room for more free creative exploration under the guidance of the tutor. 

A lot of my digital design work appears simple or minimal in style compared to more tactile design approaches. In some ways, I think this made me intrigued to consider how something entirely paper-based could help me get more ideas on screen and hopefully help me to experiment more freely. It also made me open to the idea of a detailed course on something seemingly simple, as I know for certain that there is often a lot of work behind doing 'simple' well. 

Initially, we started at total basics by creating and designing our own paper for our collage techniques to be applied to. I came back to this more often than the collaging itself in the weeks since the course ended. For me, I think that I have a taste for certain tactile methods and textures - ink, in particular - which I struggled to apply successfully in my digital work. This aspect of the course helped me push through those boundaries and I was soon producing mark making in clean, elegant and organised layouts which I squirrelled away for future pattern development. 

The next session really did a deep dive into the full range of collage techniques and how many artists apply them. I think I was overwhelmed to realise the full potential of what I had considered a medium mostly associated with primary school. Aside from my dawning realisation of how many ways I could incorporate collage digitally, I was also fascinated to be given insight into how our tutor uses collage in her own weaving work. She brought in plenty of sketch books and old projects and this was the final thing that really helped the concepts click into place in my head. 

We wrapped up the final week by pulling everything together and incorporating some of our own photographs and designs. I pivoted frantically from one idea to the next and started to wonder if I hadn't quite grasped it all as confidently as I had first thought. I suspected that the bulk of these ideas were going to sit and stew for many weeks or be pulled apart again at a later date and I suspected correctly. Since finishing the course, a large amount of work has been generated from the experimentation of shape and colour I experienced over the three days of the course. 

While I think collage techniques could work well for some designers in the main part of their design process, I think it is helping me enormously to step away from the screen and the mood boards at the beginning of a project and just play around freely. While I was initially shamed by my woeful ignorance of the potential of this medium, I am now very much convinced and committed to this fruitful addition to my creative process!

The Value Of Actively Seeking Critique

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