March 5, 2009

Comrade Collage Column: Audrey Smith

Audrey, thank you so much for taking this opportunity to be featured on my blog. I am a pretty new collage artist therefore I always love to bump into another one especially with such an inspiring techniques, materials and concept. So, let’s start with the interview now shall we?

1.Please tell me a bit about yourself and how you are first finding collage as one of your creative expressions?
I began making collage 18 years ago; I was experimenting with different media. During that time I met a professional painter who gave me a book of Max Ernst’s work. Ernst did a lot of collage work, as did his fellow Dadaists and Surrealists. I became really interested in the Dadaists especially, and collage as a serious art form after that. When I was in my mid-twenties I enrolled in art school, initially to study painting, but I wound up studying sculpture and ceramics. I didn’t do any collage work for a long time, but it always continued to be one of my favorite art forms. I graduated from art school in 2003, and continued to work in clay until about 2007. After a lot of thinking and soul searching, I decided to stop making sculpture. I began keeping a sketchbook of collages, and that got me back into collage again.

2.Tell me about your creative process in making a collage? Is there any specific ritual or just wait for the inspirations to come or any other way?
I have to feel inspired. I used to look at my art books and visit galleries and museums to get inspired, but now I just let it come naturally. I’m heavily inspired by nature, texture, color, and pattern. Once I feel driven to work, I sit down at my work table, which is piled with a variety of papers, clippings, etc. and I begin to sort through those until I find the right pieces, then I begin to play around until I find the right combination. My creativity comes in spurts, and when I am feeling creative there is no stopping me! I make new work until I don’t feel very inspired anymore. I am a huge believer in letting inspiration happen naturally – I don’t try and force it (like I sometimes had to when I was an art student).

3.What kind of materials that you have been using or even try out after all these time? How many of them is actually works and are there any failures?
Right now I love paper, especially handmade decorative papers, and origami paper (mostly for the patterns). I will use just about anything though. I have a huge box full of collage junk. Sometimes going through the box is inspiring. I haven’t really had any failures, but studying sculpture has taught me about working with lots of different materials. I’ve got a big collection of glues and adhesives – I find that you have to really consider the materials you are working with, and plan things out. Sometimes I will do that with sketches, or with a trial run. When I was making ceramics I used to mix my own glazes; I would always test the glazes first in order to learn more about them. The same concept applies to all art making – sometimes you have to test things out to see how they will work. If they don’t work as you would have liked, you have at least learned something new for the next time. And sometimes you can turn a “failure” into something positive. All art making is a challenge, and it is always a learning experience.

4.Apart from making collages, are there any other craftworks that you make?
As I mentioned before, I studied sculpture and ceramics in school. Even though I am not presently making sculpture, I’ve worked with a number of materials: metal, wood, plaster, stone… I’ve also made jewelry. I used to do it pretty seriously, but I stopped when I went to school, and now jewelry making is just something I do for fun. I also enjoy printmaking, and I am currently working on a new series of block prints. I would like to get back into painting as well.

5.Now, let’s talk about selling the craftworks. Does it take a long time for you to decide that you can sell your collages or even actually live out of it?
I do sell my work, but not enough to make a living from it. In 2006 I was commissioned to create 20 small sculptures for a client. While I feel that I made some of my best work for that project, the entire process made me realize that I do not feel comfortable making art for money. Making art for a living turns art making into a business (and brings in added stress and pressure) - I prefer to make my art on different terms. If I sell my work, then great, but it is not a big deal if I don’t. It is actually quite difficult to make a living as an artist. Most of my fine artist friends are teachers or college professors, or they have taken on some other day job (or multiple jobs). As for deciding to sell my work – I don’t get very attached to it, so if someone is interested, I’m happy to send it along to a new home. Otherwise it is stashed away in a portfolio and I would much rather have someone enjoy it.

6.I notice that several collage artists are also into making and selling kits and organize workshops. I love doing workshops and hoping to have more next
year. How about you?
Unfortunately I am so busy with my job and my life, that when I do sit down to make art, I do it alone.

7.Have you done any exhibitions? Would you like to tell us what was it like? I’ve been in a few exhibitions, but mostly for my sculpture. My first show right out of school was part of a large ceramics conference that came to my area. I was lucky to have gotten into a show with some big names in ceramic sculpture. That was pretty exciting. Exhibitions can be fun, but they are also a lot of work if you’re showing in a small gallery that has limited resources. It’s nice to go to openings and meet the other artists and the folks who put the show together. And sometimes it’s just nice to see your own work displayed in a gallery.

8.I’ve notice also that there are so many medium where we can put our collages in apart just make them into wall-hanging or ACEO. How about you? What kind of medium that you’ve used or plan to use for your collages?
I love creating sketchbook collages – I’ve been working in a Moleskine sketchbook for the last year or so (I do the work here and there). I also just got into ACEO, those are pretty new to me. I’ve been making ACEO on vintage playing cards. I’ve also done assemblage, which sort of crosses into sculpture… I have a project going right now that will be collage and assemblage using two shadow boxes made from recycled wood. I would also like to alter some old books and create collages from them. There really are no boundaries!

9.What do you like most about making collages? Is there anything that you don’t like about it?
I love combining pieces of different things to make a whole, and I love the surprise that often occurs in the process. There really isn’t anything I don’t like about it – except when I’m not feeling inspired. I’m going through a dry spell at the moment; I haven’t made anything in weeks and I miss it!

10.Any last words? And please share us your email, shop, gallery or anything that you would like to share with us. This sounds so cliché, but art making is a journey, and your work will always evolve. I think that is what I love so much about doing it. A few years ago I had aspirations of being a sculptor – but then I came to the realization that I wasn’t happy making sculpture. So here I am doing collage – for the meantime. I always want to try something new, and I refuse to impose limitations on myself. Please visit me at these places:

Deviant Art:


yoborobo said...

Really nice interview! Thank you so much for sharing your process, Audrey. Off to look at your work. :)

vantiani said...

Hey Pam!
I'm glad that you love the interview, can't wait to show you the first post on my weekly collage column;)


aimee said...

wow! her work is fabulous!

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