Collage Ideas for Your Art Journal

Updated on August 7, 2017
Collage created from magazine cut-outs and Zentangle.
Collage created from magazine cut-outs and Zentangle. | Source

Collage for Beginners

Starting an art journal seems like a good idea – until you are faced with that first pristine, white-as-snow first page. It's a beautiful book, you chose well, and, in your mind's eye, you can see the finished journal - inviting, colorful and bulging with your creativity... but how to start? How to break through the paralysis of the first white page?

Usually, I start by painting a few pages. Splash on some uneven washes of watercolor or acrylic, maybe spray with diluted ink or gently lay down some water soluble crayon or pencil. Anything just to overcome white page phobia.

The next stage is to add some focus for your journaling – how about a drawing? A painting? No? If you are like me and not entirely confident of your skills, then collage is the answer.

Collage can be funny, eclectic, surreal, contextual, beautiful, perfect, imperfect, colorful, peaceful, reflective, energizing, engaging and absorbing. Collage is quick and fun to do. It can be doodled on, torn, messed about with and even pulled off if you hate it.

So how and where do you start with collage?

I drew the birdcage and heart and glued them. Look closely, you can also see some printed text under the cage.  "For her true self was printed out, colored, and pasted on to the page. The little girl came from a vintage woman's magazine.
I drew the birdcage and heart and glued them. Look closely, you can also see some printed text under the cage. "For her true self was printed out, colored, and pasted on to the page. The little girl came from a vintage woman's magazine. | Source
Collage scrap box. Some people are far more organized and keep their cut-outs neatly filed by color or category.
Collage scrap box. Some people are far more organized and keep their cut-outs neatly filed by color or category. | Source

Collage Materials

Gather some collage supplies or 'elements'. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cut out photos of faces, whole people, parts of people, hats, hair, shoes and any other bits of people that catch your attention. Magazines, especially fashion mags are a good source of human collage material.
  • Cut out trees, flowers, birds, mammals and fish, National Geographic magazine is a great resource.
  • Cut out words and phrases from any printed source – junk mail is one of the best places to find nice fat words.
  • There are tons of free collage sources on the internet. Print out a few sheets full.
  • Save greetings cards, birthday, Christmas, etc. and cut out interesting parts.
  • Photocopy or scan other art that you have done, cut it up for re-use. Do the same with your kids' drawings and paintings. Every time you look at a page that includes your kid's art you will think of them.
  • Draw some silly faces or people on printer paper and cut them out.
  • Use masking (decorator's) tape – write on it with markers or pencils and stick it straight down on the page.
  • Buy some old 80s and 90s coffee table-style books at the thrift store and cut them up. Yes, really. It's better to repurpose and upcycle a book than it eventually end up in the trash. You might as well take advantage. Of course, please don't destroy any book that would be enjoyed or perhaps be valuable one day.
  • Scrapbook papers are readily available and you can cut them into borders or cut out interesting elements.
  • Print out your own photos and cut them up.
  • Tear images as well as cutting them, a torn edge makes them more interesting.

When my children were younger we used to spend whole afternoons 'cutting out'. They really enjoyed amassing a stack of collage pieces – some they would turn into works of art themselves but often I would snaffle the remainder for my stash! Slave labor – hmm, maybe, but we all had fun.

Old family photos, copied and torn, used on one side of a journal spread.
Old family photos, copied and torn, used on one side of a journal spread. | Source

Beware of Copyright Restrictions

A word about copyright. You are completely free to use images that you cut out of magazines or print from websites on your personal work. However, the minute you upload it to a blog, Flickr or anywhere else where the public can see it, then you'd better make sure those images are either copyright-free or altered so much to be unrecognizable.

Painted, collaged, doodled and ready to journal.
Painted, collaged, doodled and ready to journal. | Source

Collage Glue and Adhesives

Use what suits you best. If you are not trying to create an heirloom piece then glue sticks, Elmers, craft PVA etc. will be fine. Craft glues like Mod Podge are pretty good. For elements like words and borders, I very often use a double-sided tape applicator. The collage continues to get stuck down as I paint and work on the page.

If you'd like to try something different then acrylic mediums are beloved by collage artists. They can be used as glue and also as a sealer. Some will allow you to work on top of the collaged page after drying.

The thing to do is experiment – for instance, it is possible to glue down collage pieces on to wet acrylic paint, after all it is the same as acrylic medium, the difference is that the medium has no pigment.

Teesha Moore Demonstrates her Method of Collaging

Collage Layouts

Before you get your glue out, have some fun trying out some layouts. Ask yourself some questions – do you want to keep to a theme? A mood, A color? Do you want the collage to be the star of the show or do you prefer it to fade into the background? Are you going to alter the collage elements.

Move the pieces around on the page. Try some unlikely combinations – leaves for hair, long legs on a small body. Add some random words. Make up a sentence with cut out words. I wager that inspiration will strike as you play with the collage pieces. Suddenly, you'll know exactly what you want for the page or spread (two facing pages).

Re-using own, photocopied artwork as borders.
Re-using own, photocopied artwork as borders. | Source

Altered Collage

Once you have decided on a layout, then glue the pieces into place. One thing I often do is to go around the edge of the piece, partly on the paper as well, with a charcoal pencil or grey marker pen. This seems to make the collage look as though it is part of the page.

You can alter the collage anyway you like. Draw on it – markers are good for working on top of magazine paper. Add false eyelashes, beauty spots, mustaches, stripy stockings. Add a touch of glamour with metallic or glitter gel pens. Don't be hesitant about journaling on the collage elements. Stick on more collage pieces – layers are good.

If you want the images to recede into the background then swipe a layer of gesso over the page. This will give the effect of mystery as the elements appear like shadows. Once the gesso is dry, you can write, paint, draw, stamp or add more collage.

Hope I've inspired you to get out the scissors and glue. Have fun with collage in your journal!

Source

© 2012 Bev

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    • theraggededge profile image
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      Bev 2 years ago from Wales

      Thank you, Kim. You are very sweet. I haven't done any 'sticking and gluing' for months as I've so wrapped up in writing. I just want to drop everything and get all my lovely papers out!

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bev,

      What a stellar hub and one close to my heart. I attended a teacher conference years ago where we were provided with a bounty of everything under the sun one might want as part of their scrapbook, collage journey. I still have mine. Thank you for reminding me why I have kept drawers full of this and that for when I (give myself permission-smiles) to re-visit making a collage. I have discovered the vote button is no longer an option, but please considered this hub shared and pinned. Thank you.

      Blessings,

      Kim

    • MichalWrotter profile image

      Michal 2 years ago from Czech Republic

      ahh my dear friend I may try and then share it with you lol!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 2 years ago from Wales

      You don't have to be artistic to cut out images and use a glue-stick... just go for it, Michal!

    • MichalWrotter profile image

      Michal 2 years ago from Czech Republic

      Aww dear I always wanted to create a book of shadows journal. I never made it as I do not feel artistic enough. As aquarius I love things to be perfect and seems I am never satisfied. Your hub inspired me to try again. Thank you so much.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Aww thanks Bev for the kind words. You too!

    • theraggededge profile image
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      Bev 2 years ago from Wales

      You are a star, Kirsten. x

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great clever ideas to make a collage for your art journal. So handy and informative with good tips. Voted up for interesting, Bev!

    • theraggededge profile image
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      Bev 3 years ago from Wales

      My pleasure, kiddiecreations. Have a look at some of the pages on Pinterest - superb inspiration. x

    • kiddiecreations profile image

      Nicole Kiddie Granath 3 years ago

      I haven't tried art journaling yet, but I'm very interested in it! Thanks for sharing some ideas to get me started!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 3 years ago from Wales

      Thank you, pstraubie48. Much appreciated. Angels?

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 3 years ago from Northern California

      Art is such a great way to step into a creative space and forget all of your stress. This sounds like fun.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Not gifted in this area but I do so admire those like you who are.

      I enjoyed reading and learning about adding new dimension to collages.

      thanks for sharing...pinned and shared

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      Aw, that's so sweet. Thank you. Just in case you are interested Mixed Media Art Magazine just picked up a lot of my work to be published as a 'special' on iOS.

    • Rae Saylor profile image

      Rae Saylor 4 years ago from Australia

      I think I just found my new favourite hubber :) Thanks for sharing these ideas! I'm sooooooo excited!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      Oh thank you, Carly. I am very flattered and very appreciative.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      The hub is fabulous! I love mixed media art. I am sharing this with all my art therapist friends to share with their clients. Way to go. Voted, up shared and so forth and so forth.

    • theraggededge profile image
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      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      Ooh, you rebel. trusouldj! It does feel naughty, doesn't it? I used to feel bad until my hubby described a warehouse he knows, where they collect books (often brand new ones) for pulping.

    • trusouldj profile image

      trusouldj 4 years ago from Indiana

      I like the idea of buying books and destroying them. :) I go to my local library and buy magazines for a dime or a quarter and integrate photos into my stories.

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 5 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      Really fun idea!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Many thanks, Natashalh :)

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      So pretty, as always. Pinned!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Go to it, kartika!

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 5 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      Really fun - makes me want to go to my art table!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Thanks for the suggestions, Andrea. I wonder if we can get YES in the UK. I'll have to take a look. I often use gel mediums - Liquitex usually as Golden is quite expensive over here. Another idea, that I forgot about completely is to sew collage pieces into a journal.

    • profile image

      Andrea Friedell 5 years ago

      Another great glue is YES glue, a thin paste that is awesome. And of course, the handy gluesticks! My all-time favorite, though, is Golden's GAC 200 because it is archival and will adhere anything!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Thank you ChitrangadaSharan, Andrea & Meg!

      @Andrea - good luck with your class!

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      More great ideas. I think I'll try this one with my granddaughter. She would enjoy that.

    • Andrea Friedell profile image

      Andrea Friedell 5 years ago

      Wonderful hub. I just joined the Sketchbook Project and look forward to doing lots of doodling and such between now and the end of the year when it's due back. I find that my art journals tend not to have that "focus" you talk about, but that's me and my ADD. And I am also getting ready to teach an art journaling class here in the DFW area.... so timely!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      A well written and nicely illustrated hub---very creative. Thanks for sharing this interesting hub.

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Hi Lynn, yes I did in the beginning too. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

      Love the art journaling world - its fascinating. It appears I have a tendency to over think it.

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Thank you, Carol! Love that you take the trouble to look at my arty hubs. Much appreciated, lovely girl (as we say in Wales).

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      This inspired me to make a collage on my drawing pad. Why not? People will notice it and perhaps hire me to paint. Just kidding on that. I love your images here and it was a fun read.

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