A few weeks ago, Kazoo began having some computer problems. My laptop was barely functioning, and the available desktop computer was too old to be compatible with necessary software updates. It was time for an upgrade. Tom, Mila and I took a break from the office one day and drove to the Apple store to pick up a new Mac.
Like every Apple store, this one was laid out with a grid of tables, each displaying a small army of shiny, beautiful screens. While each of their products promised an interactive experience that was sure to delight, what really caught my eye were the panels that hung high on the walls that encompass the store. Each panel contained a line of figures doing different activities; dancing, painting, striking a pose, laughing with friends. What made these panels so captivating was that each one was depicted completely different than the others. Some were photographs, some were realistic 3D renderings, others were flat illustration, but they all stood together in one cohesive piece. It was a collage!
Collage, a method of composition that involves combining different materials onto one surface, is something that gets me really excited. There is so much to visually interact with in a collage, and I enjoy examining the individual components while digesting the image as a whole. Collage imagery also has the potential to convey a lot of information. The collaged Apple image above speaks to illustrators, photographers, musicians, artists, doodlers, social media users, fashionistas, selfie-takers. It talks to those who create, and those who consume. It packs a punch.
Apple isn't the only major company that is using collage in their campaigns. Red Bull sponsors a number of musical events around the world, and collage frequently appears in the promotional graphics for these shows:
These Red Bull collages each combine images and graphics to create distinct flyers that reflect the genre of music they are promoting. No collage looks the same as another, and the technique is flexible in a way that allows it to manifest in drastically different ways, depending on who the audience is and what information the collage needs to communicate.
Recently I had the opportunity to apply collage in a client project. This spring, when 3rd Lair Skate Park & Skate Shop asked me to create promotional materials for their Girls Skate Club, I knew collage was the perfect method. It is a technique that has historically been used in skateboard graphics, and is one that allowed the design to reflect the wide-ranging and often eclectic personalities of the women and girls who participate in the sport.
I used to think of collage as something to do as a fun art project, or as a way to flex my design-brain muscle, but seeing it used by such massive companies as Red Bull and Apple shows that it can be utilized on a much grander scale. An entire visual identity can be created through collage, or it can be integrated into a campaign for an established brand. For companies seeking an engaging, flexible, and memorable design solution, collage is a great option.