Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Collage Experience, B.P.

Once upon a time there was a budding artist who was asked to make detailed drawings of what he saw. He made them as realistic as possible because it was a class assignment. He spent hours on each charcoal sketch to make things look just right. He and others in the class completed the assignment. Imagine their surprise when the instructor asked them to rip the drawings up and use the pieces to create a collage.

That budding artist was me. I wasn't thrilled at the time.  I did the collage, though. Something about grades that gives one additional incentive. I think back on it now, and ask myself: why did it bother me? I'm sure my mom (and yours) was so proud of the magazine and newspaper collages that graced our home fridge as a kid. I like the collage art Jack Kirby created for The Fantastic Four during the Marvel Age of Comics. I realize now my instructor wanted us to not be afraid to make something new out of something we worked hard on.

A few years later, I was asked to design a cover for a World Book article reprint. In the days before desktop computers, World Book's sales force used reprints to show potential customers the features of The World Book Encyclopedia. My cover design was meant to show iconic African-Americans in a new way. (Years ago the article title was Black Americans. World Book has since changed the article title to African Americans.) For my design I took back and white images, made color copies in combinations of CMYK and various sizes. I cut them out and rearranged them to make a new graphic. I thought the design would then be assigned to a freelance artist, but our team thought it worked best as 'xerox art'.  We made better quality copies, and had a freelance production artist put the design together as keyline art.

Reprint cover design for a World Book Encyclopedia article.
© World Book, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

We realized some readers might not recognize some of the persons on the cover, so we added a sketch with their names on the inside back cover. Our photo editors provided credits, and the photo sources were compensated for use of the images.

Key to famous Black Americans. From 'Black Americans' reprint.
© World Book, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
If we were to recreate the cover today, the composite image would consist of images layered and colorized with an editing program like Photoshop. But the principle of collage would be the same as it was in the late 1900's B.P. (Before Photoshop).  Making collages can be fun!

Speaking of World Book, take a few moments to visit World Book's website. Any one of our print or digital products would make a great gift for a budding student or family!

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