Instagram Heroes: Cut, Paste, Repeat! 8 Stellar Collage Artists to Follow

Collage is a medium full of surprise, where context – or lack thereof – can strip images of their meaning or reconfigure it entirely. In this realm paper, scissors and glue (or their digital equivalents) are the most powerful of tools, and of course collage extends beyond this too, at times incorporating found objects for a more sculptural effect or constructed out of different materials such as felt, as we’ll see below. The style can vary from jam-packed and vibrant arrangements to minimal layouts in which utmost restraint is employed. In this list we’ve got a bit of everything! So, without further ado, meet our Instagram Heroes of the week: eight intricately skilled and wonderfully imaginative collage artists. 

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Puleng Mongale

The sublime digital collages of Puleng Mongale are equal parts creative expression and spiritual exploration. Born in Orlando East in Soweto, Mongale moved to Naturena in Johannesburg South at the age of seven and recalls feeling displaced, far from home and cut off from her cultural heritage. Visits to her mother’s hometown of Fateng-Tse-Ntsho in the Free State have helped with this, slowly revealing to the artist her origins and the many lives and stories that are inextricably linked with her own. The theme of belonging thus takes centre stage in her work, often starring Mongale as herself and as everywoman. “Collages allow me to mix the old with the new. They allow me to reinvent images and give them new contexts. It allows me to be as complex and layered as I want to be,” she has said. Follow @pulengmongale on IG.

Keneilwe Mokoena

There’s a gorgeous organic feel to the art of Keneilwe Mokoena, and a bending sense of scale… is she showing us something the human eye could only see with the aid of a microscope, or a view so vast you’d have to travel to outer space to catch a glimpse? That’s up for you, the viewer, to decide. “I like to depict finer details of the natural world,” she has said, “details which the eye doesn’t immediately see.” Born in Pretoria, this multidisciplinary visual artist’s repertoire includes that of collage. Within this medium she explores widely – from delicate arrangements of abstract shapes floating in white space to sprawling circular forms that appear self-multiplying and call to mind strange deep-sea creatures. With her keen aesthetic sensibility and curiosity in the realm of science, her works are both beautiful and compelling. Follow @ke_neil_we on IG. 

Karin Miller

Pretoria-born artist Karin Miller has developed a style of digital collage that is unmistakably hers, imbued with a distinctly South African aesthetic. Not one to shy away from controversial topics that may not be welcome around the dinner table, her eclectic work explores women’s rights, racial equality, ethnicity, and religion. “I love the fact that I can take items out of context and place them wherever I want, because life is a collaboration of different points of view,” she told us about her process and approach. “I get nervous when people start believing things from only one side; their side. I feel like we are bombarded with images on a daily basis and collage is a beautiful medium where images can be regrouped and re-evaluated.” Follow @karin.miller.visualart on IG.

Tavongaishe Chikwanda

Tavongaishe Chikwanda, who you may know on Instagram as “Tav the Human Being”, describes his work as “vibrant, eccentric and Afro-futuristic”. Surreal is another descriptor that fits his digital collages, in which a few of the recurring motifs are sunflowers, bees, psychedelic patterns and outer space. Chikwanda’s creative forays began consciously in 2008, drawing with crayons and coloured pencils in second grade. Making art felt like magic to him, a way to represent his most complex thoughts and feelings that couldn’t be communicated in words. His work today celebrates the beauty and strength of people of colour, inspired by the multitude of cultures that exist and find expression in Africa – from creative aspects of daily life like clothing, music and food, to the societal issues we are grappling with. Follow @tav.the.human.being on IG.

Sitaara Stodel

Cape Town-born Sitaara Stodel works in the mediums of photography, collage, video and print. Much of her work explores her experience of growing up constantly on the move, rarely staying in one place for more than a year. Frequent evictions meant that home became a transient space of growth and trauma for Stodel. The sparse, delicate layouts of her collages feel fragmented, with nostalgic nods to 90s and 2000s suburbia, and with a sense of yearning for the dream childhood home that kept slipping through her fingers. “I tend to make collages about my memories, and memories are often blurred into each other, or fabricated from a photograph you saw or a dream you had. So for me, the surrealist nature of collage lends to the work I create,” she told us in an interview. Follow @evenmynamewastaken on IG. 

Jody Paulsen

“I am interested in a combination of things – the surface of luxury goods, the act of shopping, cliches in advertising, collage, dating sites, yoga, pop art, celebrity and self-deprecating humour,” says visual artist Jody Paulsen, who incorporates these interests (and countless others) into his signature larger-than-life felt collages. His process is laborious but all-consuming, with direction for new works taken from his own detailed journal entries. The text is reworked, as one would write a poem, and then the puzzling begins with layers upon layers of cut-out shapes in a kaleidoscope of bright colours. The result is a style so singular it caught the eye of designer Keith Henning and led to an ongoing collaboration between the pair in the form of AKJP, a ready-to-wear brand that gives Paulsen’s art a wearable expression. Follow @jody_paulsen on IG. 

Julia Mary Grey

Julia Mary Grey is a collage and assemblage artist using paint and found materials to, in her own words, “dismantle, play with and reimagine my own grasp of social-political challenges and psychological-spiritual growth.” Her style developed from the visual journals she kept as a teen, further evoliving during her years at art school. “The collaged world,” she says, “much like the visual journal page, functions as a fantastical and idealised container for Self: a new world to inhabit that acts as an antidote to life’s greyness or sadness.” A glimpse into her studio space thoroughly echoes this sentiment, looking like a wild kind of sanctuary… or one of Grey’s abundantly bright and multifaceted works come to life. Follow @juliamarygrey on IG. 

Alexis Tsegba

The tensions as well as the intersections between nature, modern African culture and technology are explored in the reality-bending work of Nigerian artist Alexis Tsegba. Although she originally studied law, completing her Masters in Creative and Media Enterprise reignited her interest in the arts, and so she began dabbling with digital collage. Equal parts meticulous and creative, this turned out to be her ideal medium of expression. In Tsegba’s otherworldly works the distinctions between people and their environments start to blur, even when the environments they’re in are strange and unlikely. Follow @alexistsegba on IG. 

Are you an Instagram Hero?

If you’re a creator or business owner in Sub-Saharan Africa using IG to grow your practice or build your brand, you qualify to enter our monthly Instagram Heroes awards series. The Creator category includes art, design and craft, as well as creatives and makers across all fields. The Business category is for local entrepreneurs, agencies, start-ups and well-established enterprises. Submit your work using the form below before Friday, 22 January 2021.

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