Collage is an odd kind of art form.
For a lot of people it probably brings to mind elementary school projects that involved Elmer’s glue, safety scissors, and cutting little bits out of old National Geographic magazines while surreptitiously checking out indigenous peoples’ genitals. I know that when I worked in mental health with children and teenagers many group leaders and therapists would have their changes construct collages about self esteem or making positive choices. I personally never really did much with collages as a kid or a group leader so the amount of time I now spend constructing my digital composites (which are, essentially digital collages) is quite ironic.
Collage, as an art form, has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years but gained widespread popularity in the early 1900’s when cubists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque started slapping bits of paper onto their charcoal drawings and oil paintings. Surrealists, and art movements that evolved from surrealism like Dada, have used collage extensively for over 100 years now. Decoupage and photomontages are, respectively, the craft and photography versions of collage.
I didn’t name my digital composites collages because unlike traditional collage I don’t use newspaper or other random bits of paper or ribbons or string. They are also not photomontages as I use both photographs and images that I painted or drew. I suppose I could have used the term digital collage but since I try to unify the image the end result doesn’t always look like a collage. Plus, at the time, I didn’t even know digital collage was an actual category of collage technique so I’ll stick with the name digital composite even as I learn more about and see more examples of collage.
If you would like to see some modern (and politically left) collages check out Target Resistance on Instagram and be sure to check out the individual artist’s pages too by following the links.