Make a Collage, Feel Better

Creative blocks can be a real pain, especially if you’re getting paid for your artistic skills and need to be productive around the clock. After being a tad bit burnt out from design school this semester, I decided that over winter break I was only going to exercise my creativity in relaxing ways. No coding, no typography, and for godsakes NO ANIMATION. However, when I sat down to start a drawing or painting, I found myself feeling frustrated, impatient, and completely uninspired. Why was the thing that was supposed to make me feel better actually making me feel worse?

I didn’t want to give up on my winter break intentions, so I went down to Reader’s Corner (which you should go to if you’ve never been) on the hunt for vintage magazines. Always being a lover of collaging, I had hope that a new medium might be the answer to unclogging my creative blockage. Spoiler alert, IT WAS!

Vintage graphic design makes me drool, so it was uber inspiring to see it straight from the source. The grainy film, retro fonts, and cigar ads make fantastic collage materials, though it is a bit heartwrenching to cut up a mint condition “Playboy” from 1971. Even if you don’t consider yourself an “artistic” person, collage is a great way to quickly make something that looks great. There are endless things to do with it, like including your own drawings or poetry. My personal favorite thing to do is base my collages off of the music I’m listening to at the time!

There are an infinite amount of techniques, styles, and materials to use while collaging, but I like to let the magazines inspire me rather than plan out what I want a piece to look like. For me, this tends to make collaging a more interactive, spontaneous exercise.

Want to get into collaging? Don’t know where to start? Here are some tips and advice from DJ Butter on how to absolutely rock it:

Q: Where do I get magazines from?

A: If you don’t have any magazines at home that you’re willing to cut up, head over to your nearest thrift store, used book center, or record store. A lot of the time they’ll have super cheap (or free) magazines. Don’t be afraid to use non-magazine items too! I’ve used dried flowers, decorative paper, tea fortunes, and notes from friends in some of my collages.

Q: Which magazines are the best for collaging?

I specifically like to use vintage magazines, especially from “Rolling Stone,” “Playboy,” and “Record Collector.” Any art magazine is great too. Just make sure whatever you choose has lots of pictures!

Q: What materials do I need besides magazines?
  • Paper: Pick something that won’t buckle under the weight of glue, paint, or whatever else you decide to put on. I like to use this mixed media pad from Strathmore, but the paper in my Art Collection Moleskine journal works well too.
  • Glue: Any glue will work, but make sure that it dries clear. Liquid glue tends to work better than a glue stick, but remember that you only need a tiny dot in the corners of your collage cuttings. Too much glue will make the paper wrinkle.
  • Cutting: I like to use regular scissors for cutting our larger pieces and an X-Acto knife for smaller, more detailed ones.
  • Whatever Else: Find a box or pouch to keep your collage cuttings! I know you probably don’t think you need one, but trying to shove all your unused pieces in the folds of your magazines will lead to lost cuttings, ruined photos, and sadness.

I hope this inspired you to make a collage today! If you want even more inspo, here’s a list of my favorite collage artists:

Demii Wiffin

Ben Giles

Juli Baker and Summer


Now go make somethin’!

– DJ Butter

By toad maiden

A little Butter makes everything better. Part-time WKNC content manager and graphic designer, full-time sludgy surf rock funk master metalhead. Get in touch with ya suggestions n' such at