Collage art

I’m making an 180 degree turn, and getting myself into collage art. I decided that a couple of days ago. Funny thing is, for most of my life I hated collages, I found them to be some kind of art-cheating. But after seeing the works of Julien Pacaud and Jeffrey Meyer, I’m convinced that collage art is one of the coolest, versatile mediums out there. I started following the tag “collage” at TumblR lately too, and there are more updates for it than any other type of art right now. Hipster times…

“Ministry of Disasters” by Julien Pacaud. Possibly my most favorite collage artwork ever

The kind of collage I want to do is inspired by the two artists I mention above, but I want to show more contemporary elements in the composition. Collage artists are mostly using very old, usually copyright-free photographs, and this creates a fashionable, surrealistic world of nostalgia. But I feel that by not using more modern items (e.g. TVs, cellphones, modern cars etc) there’s an inevitable restriction in the work. Sure, the actual element used in an artistic work doesn’t have to be a factual representation of the object, but by only using old objects, a constrain arises in the spectrum of influence and interpretation. At least that’s my take on it, and I hope to do something about it.

In order to use modern objects I’d have to either pay for stock photography (no money for that though), or use pictures from FlickR. Unfortunately, Creative Commons-licensed pictures are not that high in numbers in order to create the best collage possible, so I might have to use copyrighted images too. Credits will be given for each picture used, the resulted PSD file will be offered as “open source” for educational purposes, and a tutorial will be written too for new, aspiring artists (update: tutorial is here). My works will be generally licensed under the CC-BY-SA-NC license (unless all elements are coming from CC-BY images, in which case my work will be CC-BY too), and at least for the collages using copyrighted elements, I won’t use commercially. With these precautions, I believe my work will fall under the “Fair Use” clause.


Bill wrote on April 23rd, 2012 at 5:48 PM PST:

I’ve always considered you to be a true defender of digital copyrights. I’ve read much of what you’ve had to say about the subject and have used it as guidance. So I guess I’m a bit disappointed to see your latest posting. I know that I wouldn’t wish anyone to re-use one of my Flickr photos. Even for non-commercial.



This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on April 23rd, 2012 at 6:24 PM PST:

I did say a lot about the subject (mostly *against* the current copyright laws), and I advocated Creative Commons as an alternative.

That, and above all, I place art, not law. Not that I don’t respect the law (I do), but laws come and go. They change on a whim, depending on the state of the society, or the various lobbies. But art is timeless. Art that has something to say (and mine will have a lot to say), is public service. A public service that ultimately strives to make laws unneeded. So what you’re suggesting is the chicken and the egg problem: can’t make good art because of authority, can’t get rid of authority because of bad art.

If a piece of one of your pictures ends up in any artistic work, you should be happy about it. Ecstatic even! It’s a privilege to be part of someone’s dream of utopia. I’d definitely be. Which is why I try to “open source” all of my works.

Obviously, if someone requests to remove his picture from my collages, I will. I’ll respect their wishes. But in my opinion, the default action on my part is to remix whatever I deem worthy of remixing. Everything is a remix in our world anyway. Nothing just comes out of nowhere.

Bill wrote on April 23rd, 2012 at 6:39 PM PST:

I think that you are trying to justify or rationalize your new dis-regard for copyright law. And it is the law. Not something that has come and gone.

I hope that you will reconsider. But I think that we will have to disagree on this.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on April 23rd, 2012 at 6:52 PM PST:

I don’t have a disregard for copyright law. What I have is a dislike for the current copyright law, which is overly restrictive and often vague. And it’s not a new dislike, it’s being there since forever, so I’m not sure why you didn’t notice.

Besides, my work would almost be hitting all four clauses of “Fair Use”, even if only one is required: how much money the original author loses (nothing, it’d be a free picture on flickr), educational purposes of my work (check), how much of the original work is used (parts only), and if my work is commercial or not (it’s not). So what I’m trying to do is WELL WITHIN the boundaries of the current law!

The reason why I stayed with Creative Commons so far is because I could find the material I needed (particularly, music for my videos). But for collages, where certain poses/perspectives have to be fulfilled in the work, CC won’t always offer what I’d need. Neither I can shoot myself everything I want to put in a collage. This is a type of art that is by nature, one big, fat, remix. The whole spectrum of published works must be used to make the best remixes/collages. Otherwise, the resulted art is constrained, limited, less of what it COULD be.

All this is not my “justification” of the situation. It’s a logical fact.

Bill wrote on April 24th, 2012 at 3:35 AM PST:

I’m curious how far down this road of “logical fact” you are willing to travel. Are you willing to incorporate the digitized works of the likes of Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White or Gordon Parks into you collages? And if not them, where do you draw the line to get to your unconstrained creations?

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on April 24th, 2012 at 10:18 AM PST:

Fair Use also allows parody. If that’s what I’m trying to do, sure. Otherwise, no, I won’t include artworks from other artists. But random snapped pictures don’t have the same value as an artwork in my mind, and I always try to play nice with Fair Use. So I don’t understand why you’re complaining, since what I’m trying to do is within the law’s boundaries.

Michael C. wrote on April 24th, 2012 at 11:45 AM PST:

Copyright law as it stands now sucks. I don’t understand why a coal miner is paid for a particular batch of coal he pushed out, while a songwriter or a poet gets paid for the same batch of stuff again and again and again pretty much forever. Art is about internal desire to create, not about being a rentier. Bill, I hope I never come across your account on Flickr.

Bill wrote on April 24th, 2012 at 2:10 PM PST:

I’m not complaining especially when we’ve solved the age old problem of who will judge what has art value versus “random snapped pictures.” I hope that you are as understanding of folks who might judge your collages as not having “value as an artwork.” That would not be me, however.

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