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Showing 1-10 of 62 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 73 reviews
on June 6, 2013
This book got such great reviews, I couldn't wait to recieve it. My enthusiasm only lasted through the first few pages; Randall Plowman provides a stellar overview of collage tools and materials. After that the book begins to go downhill. He gives a decent but cursory review of design principles. I would have liked to have more depth and a greater number of examples. Then he reviews only two specific techniques; printing on tracer paper and laser transfers. After that he jumps directly to matting your work. So after teasing the reader with an amazing array of tools, he doesn't really teach the reader how to use them. He spends the rest of the book (approximatley 80 expensive, color pages) giving very simplistic creativity prompts, like try tissue paper or try cardboard. These prompts are fun but could be layed out in ten pages or less. This book has a great beginning, an interesting array of creativity prompts and almost no how-to. It's a beautiful looking book but if you want to learn techniques, skip it and buy something more helpful. I will as soon as I figure out which book that might be.
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on February 15, 2013
The only type of collage artist I think would NOT benefit from this book is one of whom all three of the following are true: 1) Already technically competent; 2) Has an established style which remains entirely satisfying; 3) Never runs out of ideas or motivation. For everyone else interested in collage, I cannot imagine how this book would fail you.

The key words in understanding the purpose of this book and its intended audience are in the subtitle: "Get Started" and "Stay Inspired." Everything about this book is exceptionally well-tuned to accomplish these ends. (Unfortunately, the "Look Inside" feature doesn't adequately reflect this, due to the usual mistake of omitting ALL of the main substance of the largest section of the book and including only a few of the very first pages and the last few. How many lists of supplies and materials do we need to preview? For a flip-through view of some of the other pages, see BeachBrights's video, after you get an idea of what I mean, here.)

The "Get Started" component of the book can be interpreted in several ways, and The Collage Workbook admirably addresses each.

"Get Started" can imply:

* Instruction for the complete beginner.

* Prompts for getting ideas flowing.

* Motivation to begin working.

* Initial materials with which to work.

As with every section of this book, the introductory sections on supplies, techniques, design considerations, and sources of imagery are pithier than those in most other references. They are also at least equally useful, as most, and may be more so. These sections also provide value to those artists growing jaded by long familiarity with habitual materials, supplies, and techniques, or whose imagery libraries could use sprucing up. Although, one criticism: In the "Finding Imagery Online" section, most of the Web links to clip art (also linked directly from the author's site) are to imagery suitable only for screen-resolution collages; only a few bear printing out, especially if you prefer to work in a large scale. Even so, the introductory sections proved valuable to me: Despite several years of reading on mixed-media topics, I found it refreshing to discover a method of image transfer I haven't encountered before.

Additionally, the author includes a nice selection of clip art in the back of the book, also available from his Web site. Since these are already at print resolution, you may get slightly better results at larger scale; however, do realize that (like most published imagery, these days) even these examples originated as digital scans; rectilinear pixels will appear, if you enlarge too much.

(For another interesting selection of incidental clip art, albeit of an entirely different style of content, see The Art of Vintage Journaling and Collage: Techniques and Inspiration for Working with Antique Ephemera, a bargain, single-volume reprint of Vintage Collage Journals: Journaling with Antique Ephemera and Vintage Collage-Works: Artful Ideas with Antique Ephemera.)

The design basics, while necessary for books targeting complete novices, are largely a rehash of many of the same principles stated for the same purposes in other books. The presentation is relatively complete and unusually practical, clear, and concise, though not new to anyone who has researched similar topics. However, the visual examples included--all of it the author's work--can yield rewards to any who already know or have just learned the material, and who study the examples closely.

With the aforementioned basics tidily covered, the author amply fulfills the second promise of the subtitle, "Stay Inspired." The subsequent 50 Creative Exercises compose the bulk of the book and contribute its principal value--especially for the experienced artist, who will likely gloss over the earlier sections. Each exercise includes from one to seven example collages responding to the idea of that exercise. Again, all are executed by the author. Again, with critical scrutiny, the images themselves yield insights. But the exercises are the things that make the book worth keeping close by, and for years.

Examples of the 50 Creativity Exercises include:

* White Out: Use shades of white as the dominant element in your collage.

(This is actually a variation of, but usefully distinct from, another of the exercises....)

* Color Plunge: Create a monochromatic collage in a color of your choice

* Typography: Use typographic elements as graphic components, independent of their linguistic meanings.

* Seeing Double: Repeat the same element in a single collage.

While these examples may seem simplistic, out of context, their very simplicity functions both to keep the exercises motivating as starting-points and to keep them sufficiently adaptable, to the individual artist and surrounding working context, that they can remain fresh, even if repeated over a period of weeks, months, or years.

I think that one very good way to use this book--either while first learning to work in collage, or when facing artist's block, later on--is to randomly select one technique, one design element, and one compositional strategy to employ (from the first section of the book), along with one of the 50 Creative Exercises. Then, create a collage within those constraints.

If you still feel stuck about where to begin, randomly select one background element from your stash or the clip art at the back of the book, and one image to incorporate, in either a focal or supporting role. From the base of those decisions, apply the workflow principles in the "Layering 101" section of the book. The number of inspiring and motivating permutations this method would generate (especially as you add favored components to your stashes of imagery, skills, and materials) would probably outlast the physical life of this book.

Further, The Collage Workbook exemplifies two benefits of presenting a range of works by a single artist--particularly when varied groups of those works proceed from the same well-defined beginnings. First, I always find it useful to be able to compare more than one application of the same design principle or fabrication technique, by the same artist. Doing so permits the studied element of the work to emerge more clearly, since the stylistic and visual vocabularies tend to be held more nearly constant. Even for new collage artists, the technical education at the beginning of the book is sufficient to permit extracting this additional layer of information from the examples of the author's work, taken as a whole.

Second (and again viewed as a body of work by a single artist), an equivalent benefit derives from considering the artist's use of similar thematic content. For the astute viewer, this permits a kind of self-education on the subject of developing variations on a theme. Scanning the entire book with either this, or the immediately-preceding, consideration in mind rewards the exploration.

The previous two items are useful to hold in mind when reading any book on an artistic subject. However, they are particularly useful when applied to such a large and varied--yet, stylistically-related--body of work as that presented in this compact, useful, and accessible volume.

I have been researching and collecting books in the fields of mixed media, hybrid analog/digital art, and printmaking for a number of years. I have bought so many books that I've repeatedly strained my budget and have begun borrowing the available titles from the library. This book is one I renewed so many times, that I'd already decided to buy it; but when the price fell to the ridiculously low $8.97 (as of this writing), I could no longer justify delaying my purchase. I expect The Collage Workbook to hold my interest, keep me busy, and become a frequent and treasured reference, over the next several years, at least.

Those who appreciate the approach of The Collage Workbook might also benefit from a couple of my other favorite references: Collage Lab: Experiments, Investigations, and Exploratory Projects (Lab Series) and Print & Stamp Lab: 52 Ideas for Handmade, Upcycled Print Tools (Lab Series). The approach of both books is in some ways similar to that in The Collage Workbook--concise instructions, a broad range of fundamental techniques--but adds suggested variations and explorations for transforming the results into something uniquely your own. The 52 exercises in each are neatly selected to cover a year's worth of weekly projects. Highly recommended as inspirational means of breaking through artistic paralysis.
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on December 5, 2012
Love the book | Follow the artist.

American collage and mixed-media artist Randel Plowman is a rare bird in the crazy-popular medium of collage.

First, he is male. And, he is relatively young to be as established in the art world as he is.

Second, he does not follow nor prescribe to anyone else's methods of structuring his artworks, and lastly, he is a fine writer.

His assemblage techniques are straight forward, user-friendly and going through this book it is as if you were taking a class or workshop with him. I happened upon the artist well before the book, and am glad I knew of his works

As I have said in many art book reviews before: Any "How To" is likely going to tell you something. What it will not do is make you a better artist. *That* is up to you, the end user. So, you can buy this book and others like it, and read through the text and admire the photographs and the artwork - but if you do nothing more than that please do not complain that this book did not "help" you with your art.

The "help" comes from you. It is the daily, regular practice of your craft, whether you sew, knit, paint, sculpt, write or dance. The daily or very regular commitment to your muse is what makes you better.

This book is a fine example of what regular practice of one's art, and of one's passion, will provide: a level of expertise good enough to share.

Excellent prompts and suggestions on furthering your own work, as well as a variety of examples of collage.
One of my favorite books on the subject, to date.
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on March 18, 2013
It's nice to have a book on making JUST COLLAGE. It respects the medium and doesn't get all 'crafty' with projects that require a lot of paint or stenciling or finding stuff around the house like paper clips or buttons like other collage books. And it gives you a more than helpful list of supplies to get you started. I wish I had this book years ago.
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on March 16, 2017
Now I collage, but now I have learned so much more that I am a semi-artist!
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on May 1, 2017
Great product. Thank you so much!
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on April 7, 2017
Great book - so interesting!
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on June 12, 2013
This is a great step by step book that guides you through the maze of Collage. It's full of details and advice that make it easy to understand how to succeed in this craft. It's concise and fairly simple to follow. It gives you the fundamental concepts of Art in relation to Collage. As a beginner, I know that I'll use this book over and over. Already I made some inroads into this "newfound art." I have created greeting cards et some small matted Collages as gifts. I'm not as intimidated as I used to be and not afraid to cover something I don't like with more layers! That is Collage by excellence!
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on June 4, 2012
As a proud owner of four pieces of Randel's art, I was thrilled to see this book published. After saying "how did he do that" so many times, now I have a thorough, well-written guide to help me create art. Randel gives you no-nonsense directions to get your tools and materials in order, and then 50 prompts that make you want to get started right away. The prompts are practical. They will appeal to the novice and the experienced artist. Collage is a very personal expression of self, and these pages will lead you to use your creativity to make something awesome (in as little as 30 minutes, if you want). You will NOT be disappointed in this purchase, and you will want to grab glue, paper, and images and get started immediately.
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VINE VOICEon January 31, 2013
I'm a newbie to collage and I'm trying to learn to just let it flow and happen. This book has some great ideas and instructions. I love that it discusses all the different materials that can be used and what they're best suited for.

The book includes a lot of images that you can copy or scan and print on different papers and include in your projects. Just looking at some of the cool pics gives me some good ideas.

I'm not really an artist, although I can draw fairly well, I don't have that true artist's creative streak, but I think this book will help me get something done!
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