Collages: Paper or Digital?

Let’s address something: paper or digital collages? Here are my thoughts about it:

1. Paper collages are more beautiful in person than prints. The real scissor cuts add to the surrealness.

2. The crafting part of paper collages is more pleasurable, as is everything that is being realized with our own hands. You do get some street cred for it too. Digital collages on the other hand are much faster to work with.

3. Prints on the other hand, look exactly the same, no matter if they’re digital or on paper (they only look different if you use soft cuts or if you boost the colors on digital collages).

4. Paper collages usually go for anywhere between $100 to $500 on gallery shows. Digital collages go for $20 to $100. Digital special edition prints though can also go for $500, as long as they’re resized up! At the end, it depends on the quantity sold.

5. Galleries rarely want to work with digital artists. This means that if you are a digital artist, you must do all the marketing and promotion yourself. It does take time.

6. Paper pop collages are usually up to 12″ size (usually smaller, and customers often complain about that). Digital collages can be resized and printed up to 36″ without much loss of quality. My most usual digital size is 18″ though.

7. Commissions for big publications or big clients is asked to be done digitally because they’re very demanding and they ask about changes all the time. Most of these changes can only be realized digitally (eg enlargement or flipping of a single element). About 1/3rd of my income comes from commissions.

8. Digital collages allow modifying elements when exporting for products (eg iPhone cases, pillows, t-shirts etc). Because these exports have specific sizes (e.g. too tall, too wide etc) visual changes must be made to accommodate a collage to that product’s ratios. This can’t be done with an already glued paper collage properly. Also, you can airbrush out ad text and logos.

9. Digital collaborations are easier. Nothing to mail out or wait weeks for it.

10. Digital workflows liberate the artist. You don’t have to deal anymore with limitations of sizes and decisions made in the 1950s by some editorial guy who put together a magazine back then. The decision on the size, direction, flip, colors etc are now yours. I understand that some people like the limitations. I witnessed a similar thing with Linux: people would install and use it exactly because they wanted to beat its limits as a desktop operating system. I personally am over that phase in my life. I don’t have the need to beat anything anymore, or fight with it. I just create as uninhibitedly as possible.

2 Comments »

Ivan wrote on August 26th, 2015 at 6:30 AM PST:

Just out of curiosity, can you generate a ‘livable’ income from your collages? (No need for any exact numbers.)


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Eugenia wrote on August 26th, 2015 at 9:03 AM PST:

Yes, but it won’t carry you forever. Every art style (in this case “pop” collage) has a life cycle of 3-5 years.


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