I have always been drawn to old magazines, postcards and photos. My collage work is a product of me interacting with objects and images that interest me. Mostly American magazines from the 60s and 70s. Collage gives me a reason to collect and spend time with these things.
I think a lot about the power of media to influence our values and perspectives, a power which extends across multiple generations. Femme Maison refers to Louise Bourgeois’ paintings of the same name, which examine the home as an essentially female place for women to explore ideas about female identity.
For decades, mass-media has told young women how to (among many other things) decorate their homes, and they have subconsciously passed these expectations onto their children. By weaving images of women into the fabric of the idealized rooms advertised in mass-media, I’m visualizing the lasting impressions of our mothers–and of their magazines. I think it would be wise for us to occasionally pause and consider how the media we passively consume (or create!) might effect the next generation.
In 2015 my husband and I were on a long road trip around the U.S, and along the way I started grabbing free magazines, pamphlets and small town newspapers. One day on a whim I decided to try collaging with some of this stuff I had collected.
Later I realized that I had been missing a solid creative outlet for a few years. When I was in school I did a lot of painting and drawing outside of the time I spent designing on the computer, and when I started my career I accidentally fell out of the habit. Now I prioritize my personal creative time.
I’m inspired by many things – going to museums, being in nature, talking with my friends, personal memories, current events, politics, music, photography and history. When I want to create something but I don’t have a specific idea in mind, I turn to music as inspiration. I have a playlist of songs that give me a certain feeling. I play a song on repeat while I work, until I have made something that feels connected to the song.
I start by flipping through my magazines looking for anything that catches my eye. After I get an idea of the images I like, I either cut them out or bookmark them until I’m ready to cut. Some images feel so precious that I have a difficult time cutting them out, but I’m aware of how abundant all of this junk is, piling up in antique stores and basements all over the world. I have to remind myself that I am recirculating these images to people who otherwise would have never seen them, and I am presenting them in a context that hopefully stirs some thought and reflection, which helps me move forward.
I repeat this process many times, cycling through my stack of magazines before I start grouping things together in piles or possible compositions. Sometimes I glue things down right away, sometimes years pass before I commit to glueing them down.
When I’m ready to share or reproduce a piece, I photograph it and do some basic photo editing. Occasionally I experiment with Photoshop techniques to further expand on an idea.
Find out more about Emily Comfort’s work and stay up to date on her collage and design projects on her website.
Originally published in Shillington Post 08—The Creative Women Issue.