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Want to Relax and Express Yourself? Try Collage Art

A vintage-looking collage featuring a woman floating on a cloud over a mid-century suburban landscape.
sniegirova mariia/Shutterstock

Whether you’re looking for a new hobby or you need something to help you relax, collage creation is both relaxing and great art therapy. It’s simple, easy, and a fun way to indulge in creative expression that doesn’t require intense skills or tools.

What Is Collage Art?

Collage art has been around since the early 1900s and derives its name from the usage of glue to create a sort of mixed-media art. Paper and more is used to create what is now referred to as analog collage. The technology brought about by computers and the internet has made digital collage a common form of this art, so the old way of doing it needed its own moniker.

An example of early collage by Pablo Picasso.
‘Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper’, 1913. Pablo Picasso

Creating analog collage art requires cutting things out of newspapers, books, catalogs, and magazines—words and photos are usable, depending on your vision. You can use old greeting cards, ticket stubs, napkins with art on them, and anything else that speaks to you. Because you’re creating a collage, you can add anything you can glue to a canvas or piece of paper—dried flowers, coins, pieces of clothing, small toys, and more. Because it’s basically a form of mixed-media art, you can paint, draw, throw in photos you’ve taken, and integrate any other art form you’re a fan of.

For digital collage, you can scan into your computer the items you use for analog or even completed analog work to digitally manipulate. Digital manipulation is editing art and photos on your computer, from adjusting colors to adding designs.

Digital collage can be done without anything analog as well. There are many websites available online where you can find photos and clipart that doesn’t require any attribution when you use it for art or business. You can then design creations using an app or using the photo editor on your computer.

Collage Art as Therapy

An analog collage made up of magazine clippings.
Trinet Uzun/Shutterstock

There are a million ways to find inspiration for your collage art. Art therapy allows people to find a way to express themselves and their feelings through creative expression, and with collage art, you can choose your words and images and make them into a jumble that speaks only to you or to everyone.

Vision boards are one way you can use collage creation as a form of therapy. Vision boards are a way to set goals or give your dreams a visual representation. Plan your dream home, map out your wedding, or give yourself inspiration for your future career.

What Do You Need to Create Collage Art?

Whether you decide to do analog, digital, or a mix of both, here are the things you should have on hand if you want to create some relaxing collage art. Although analog collage art is the most traditional way to do it, we’re going to highlight digital tools first for one simple reason: You can start right now without hunting down physical supplies.

Analog Collage Supplies

If you’re going to do some or all of your collage art offline, you’re going to need some office and art supplies. There are basics you’ll need, then there are some extras if you want to integrate a more “mixed-media” style. This list is in that order, from absolute needs to what you might want to add.

  • Paper Products: Collect magazines, don’t throw away stained books or those falling apart, keep clippings from newspapers, and save catalogs and other junk mail. Depending on your muse on any particular day, you never know what gold you might find in paper ephemera, vintage or modern. If you need magazines, you can find them cheap at thrift stores or do surveys on a site like Reward Survey, where you can earn money toward magazine subscriptions.
  • Cutting Products: When working with analog collage, you’re going to be doing some cutting. You’ll want a good pair of sharp scissors. Scissors can start to hurt your fingers a bit if your cutting a lot of stuff out, so investing in a good precision cutting tool may be helpful as well.

Exacto Knife Set

This Exacto knife collection comes with a handy cutting mat, just what you need for cutting out collage parts.

  • Gluing Products: When working with magazine clippings and other thin pieces of paper, glue sticks are your best bet—the glue isn’t runny, and it’s not as messy. If you’re using chunkier stuff in mixed-media pieces, a glue gun will come in handy.

Avery Glue Stick 6-pack

Buy your glue sticks in bulk if you plan to do analog collage.

Digital Collage Supplies

You can do digital collage art completely online. There are great sites where you can find free photos to use and apps that will let you place everything exactly where you want it. Not only are there free options, but if you consider turning your art into a way to make money, there are also paid versions of apps that will let you do even more with your creations.

  • Three-in-One Printer: Whether you want to put your analog collage art online to share with friends on social media, or you want to upload it to do digital manipulation, you’ll need a scanner. Three-in-one printers are an affordable way to scan and print.

HP Wireless All-in-One Printer

Print, scan, and make copies with one great machine.

  • Pick a Few Good Apps: PicMonkey and Canva are great apps that can be used on mobile and your desktop. While they both have free aspects, you get more from paid subscriptions—like access to more free photos and clip-art. With a paid Canva account, you can use their clipping tool and cool effects, like mirror images.
  • Find Free Photos and Vector Images: If you don’t want to pay for Canva to access more free pictures, there are other sites online where you can find royalty-free photos that don’t require attribution. For photos, illustrations, and vector images, look to Pixabay. If you want even more photos, check out Unsplash.

If you need inspiration, hop on Instagram and search #collageart—you’ll find endless images and some cool collage art challenges to give you creative ideas. If you decide you want prints of your creations, whether you want to frame them, gift them, or sell them, Shutterfly is an affordable place to get quality prints, and they’re always running sales.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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