Visual Communication through Collage: Tips from Our Lead Designer

It’s simple, really: we love paper! We’ve been supplying premium paper for the last thirty years, so it’s only natural that we’ve made collaging a business and a pleasure at Zetta Florence. Much of what you see within our Brunswick Street store, and what you take home with you, incorporates collage. While collaging is a craft practiced by children and adults alike, it’s also a medium for professional creatives to find, visualise and communicate their personal style and message. We sat down with our Lead Designer, Ashley, to talk about how she uses collage in her work, including examples from the limited edition artwork she’s created in collaboration with our team and local artists for our 2022 Art Calendar collection.

What is collage?
The beauty of collage is in its simplicity: it’s the product of cutting and pasting images together to create a visual story and artwork. While the usual ‘offline’ approach to collaging is hands-on and ritualistic, digital collage is made possible with a range of programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator. Many professionals start with a tangible, paper collage and clean up finer details, like line work, digitally.

Shanghai, China Collage

Shanghai, China Collage
From Explore the World 2022 Art Calendars

Perth, Australia Collage

Perth, Australia Collage
From Travel Australia 2022 Art Calendars

Why collage?

  • It’s therapeutic.
    Like completing a puzzle, slowly choosing and focusing on each element that makes up the whole is mindful creative practice.
  • It’s resourceful.
    Recycle and repurpose magazines, journal pages, letters, artwork and more to create something new. Make one-off postcards and greeting cards themed to suit their receiver. We’ve done the same in our Horoscope Card range, plucking motifs from our archives to complement each sign in the zodiac.
  • It’s illuminating.
    Creating a mood board is a highly useful tool for seeing how elements connect and look together. Collages are a medium to reflect on within your creative process, as well as complete artworks in their own right.
  • It’s creative.
    While creative practice is at times guided by rules, qualifications and a long list of tools required to finish a project, collaging is an inexpensive and entirely personal medium. Collaging is visual storytelling with a strong focus on play, giving you full creative control!
Grampians, Australia Collage

Grampians, Australia Collage
From Australia’s Backyard 2022 Art Calendars

Melbourne, Australia Collage

Melbourne, Australia Collage
From Travel Australia 2022 Art Calendars

How to find your visual communication style through collaging
Whether it’s for work or play, you can use collage as a medium to discover, visualise and communicate your personal style and message. Collaging frequently, especially as you learn more about a topic that you’re working on, encourages reflection to help evolve your understanding of your style and message. These are some steps you can take to get started on finding your personal visual communication style:

  • Experiment!
    There’s nothing like trying something new, especially when it doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’. Experimenting with a new medium, like collage, themed to your work will help you understand what you like without pressure.
  • Communicate written work visually.
    This prompts you to look at a problem differently, or amplifies and expresses your point.
  • Start simple, then add more.
    Understand where you stand as a minimalist versus maximalist.
  • Incorporate texture.
    Develop your personal style by creating a toolkit of materials you like to work with. This is when paper, paint, photographs, pressed flowers, stickers, cards, foil, wax and more come into play. If you prefer to collage digitally, keep a folder of images and clippings from videos you like so that there’s a library of inspiration waiting for you.
Kakadu, Australia Collage

Kakadu, Australia Collage
From Australia’s Backyard 2022 Art Calendars

Daintree Rainforest, Australia Collage

Daintree Rainforest, Australia Collage
From Australia’s Backyard 2022 Art Calendars

Tips from our Lead Designer
Collaging is an integral part of the creative process for our team behind the scenes. Our designers start with collage when creating mood boards for initial product concepts, ready to discuss at the table. In the development process, they dive into our archives to source images and at times commission collaborative artists to build a collection of thematic imagery to work with. From then on, it’s pulling together the right elements to create the polished products that you see today! We took some time to talk to our Lead Designer, Ashley, about her creative process and the tips she’s found useful working on our 2022 Art Calendar collection.

How is collage used in your work as a designer at Zetta Florence?
Collaging is a fantastic way for us to repurpose and bring to life archived imagery from the past. After deep, immersive research and sourcing, we stitch together elements to create our beautiful, bespoke products. Most recently, I worked with collage to create our 2022 Art Calendar range.

How much of the collaging process is offline compared to online?
The majority of our work is completed online, from scanning, to photoshopping and restoring vintage prints.

What is your process behind creating a mood board for a collection?
At Zetta, we love to get ahead of trends and instigate new ones. We’re always looking at the world around us for inspiration and collecting ideas. We pull together concepts as a patchwork of resources, and come together as a team to see which themes will be loved most by our customers!

How do you decide which elements to incorporate?
It takes hours upon hours to create the perfect balance of elements. It’s like creating a tapestry by piecing together cut-outs from different places and eras. Through a keen design eye, we make crucial decisions to decide what evokes the theme best.

What’s your favourite theme to work on at Zetta Florence?
Our Australia’s Backyard 2022 Art Calendar was a joy to create. As I designed it, I journeyed through our natural landscapes and learnt about our land. It made me want to travel across Australia as soon as I can!

Can you share your advice for those experimenting with collage to find their personal visual communication style?
Enjoy the process and allow time for deep research to source those hidden gems! Experiment until you find the right balance that works for you. Your natural style will shine through.

See more of Ashley’s stunning collage work and one of the finished calendars below for further inspiration!

Hobart, Australia Collage

Hobart, Australia Collage
From Travel Australia 2022 Art Calendars

Alice Springs, Australia Collage

Alice Springs, Australia Collage
From Travel Australia 2022 Art Calendars

Farmers Garden

Farmer’s Garden 2022 Wall Art Calendar

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