Jordan Kim collage paper art scissors glue

How I Fell in Love With Paper Collage

Recently someone asked me about how I got started making paper collages. We were discussing my technique and somehow we got on the topic of how much time it takes for me to make a collage. I explained that it depended on the complexity of the piece, but something like an 8"x8" portrait takes around 8-10 hours to complete. "Wow!" she gasped, "What made you choose this medium?" Having heard this question many times before, I knew she was really asking, "Whoa. Why on earth would you spend your time making art that way?" And the answer is fairly simple...I fell in love.
Jordan Kim torn paper rainbow colors mixed media art  paper collage Just look at the endless possibilities!
Like any kid, I had those in my life that I looked up to with great admiration. You know the ones. The people that inspire you beyond words. It's about the way they make you feel inside, the beauty and spirit that they emanate. Well, my grandma was that person to me. And it just so happens that she was an AMAZING collage artist. She used lots of fabric, gold leaf, scraps of plastic, buttons, and obscure found objects (like a child's prosthetic leg, fortune cookie fortunes, a corset, packaging materials and sequins). As a kid (and even as an adult) I was fascinated by her ability to see how one found object could be used to portray another. She looked at the world through that lens - not just for art, but for everything. My aunt captured this trait of hers beautifully in a story about my Grandma pulling an old wooden basket off of the top of the fridge and gasping at its contents. "Oh! How BEAUTIFUL!" she exclaimed as she pulled a rotten banana from the bowl - noting its amazing black color and the gorgeous green and blue fuzz it had started to grow. That was Grandma. She could always see beyond the superficial. When she held your face in her hands and looked into your eyes, she looked beyond the outside and saw you for who you were in the depths of your soul. She really looked in there too - to the point that you wanted to look away for how vulnerable you felt, but you couldn't. There was too much love and adoration in her eyes and you wanted to soak up every moment. After all, it's not everyday that someone sees you for who you really are deep down like that. But Grandma could see it. I had done the basic magazine collages in elementary school, but now I was in high school. The Oklahoma City bombing had just happened and I (like so many others) was struck by Charles Porter's photograph of firefighter Chris Fields holding the dying infant Baylee Almon. I had never encountered such an atrocity in my life before. But I knew I had to soak it in and process it in some way. And for me, art was my go-to for dealing with whatever life threw at me. So I decided to take a stab at my own collage of that image. Being fairly limited in my options for art supplies, I chose paper as my medium. Jordan Kim collage paper art scissors glue I worked on that piece for months. It was big (as collages go) - I think it was about 24" x 36". But it didn't matter. Every free moment, I shut myself in my bedroom and worked on it. I found myself simultaneously mourning the loss of that baby and all the victims of that tragedy - and falling deeply in love with the process of finding the right shape/color/texture to create another image. I loved the process of creating in this way. And I loved the flexibility (and abundance) that paper offered. My parents were more than happy to give me their junk mail and old magazines for my project. And when I was finally done with that piece I turned right around and started another. So why do I make art in this ridiculously tedious way? Basically I do it because I LOVE the process of spending time on one subject long enough to really see it for what it is. I love taking the time to honor someone, something or a moment in that way. I think that's why my favorite subject matter is people. For me, there's no better way to indulge in really seeing another person than to do a paper collage of them. It's also why I try to capture the simple {extra} ordinary moments of everyday life that we so often overlook.
Jordan Kim, mixed media art, paper collage, cut paper, slow down for miracles, notice, inspirational art Slow down and notice all the little miracles. Prints and cards available here.
I need the reminder myself. What better way to help myself remember than to devote many hours to creating art dedicated to that idea. I'm so grateful that my Grandma planted that seed in me. What an amazing gift!
Back to blog