Homage Project | 2015
The goal of this academic assignment was to pay homage to a well known artist or graphic designer by creating a work within a five inch by five inch square that reflects that individual or group's aesthetic. The process by which the final product is derived must include at least two different mediums.
I chose to pay homage to renown punk and collage artist Winston Smith. Smith is known primarily for his work in collaboration with the U.S. punk group, the Dead Kennedys. Almost all of Smith's work is derived from a deep dissatisfaction with the American public and their complacency within their society. To combat this, Winston Smith utilizes found imagery pulled from popular culture resources from yesteryear and present day.
Provided the sources from which he gets his collage material, his work retains a nostalgic vibe and pits contradicting objects and scenarios against one another. It has been illustrated many times within his body of work, a content, nonchalant demeanor on the faces of his subjects. Typically the topics covered by his collage work were social, political, and economic. His collages always had a very dark undercurrent and uneasiness about them as they related directly to the lives of the viewers.
Having worked in collage since the 1970s, Winston Smith works almost exclusively through handcut collage and analog techniques, rarely using the computer for more than slight adjustments even in his contemporary work. This analog approach to image making is evident throughout the following images.
I began my process by sorting through a collection of old LIFE, Popular Science, and Mechanix Illustrated magazines from circa 1950-1965. I chose to utilize these types of materials as they seemed to be readily available and the content was on par with that of Winston Smith's sourced imagery.
It is common in Smith's work that a background or scene will be chosen and then addition objects/subjects will be placed afterward. However, given the parameters of the project to work within a five inch by five inch square, I felt as though any landscape or scene would be cramped. As a resolve I chose to make stickers from out of my collage arrangements. Although this is not typical of the work produced by Winston Smith, I found it to be an interesting way to not only push his collage technique and ideologies but to provide the beneficiaries with a functional, and interactive, work of art.
However, the idea to create stickers forced me to think about how I went about making the images. I felt that it was necessary that the sticker be a self contained image with zero hard edges and truncated parts.
Below are several explorations of various collage arrangements:
These explorations maintained a sense of humor that is similar to that found in Smith's work; however, my collage arrangements did not seem to take on the hard commentary of his work.
The most intense image to create was the torn head. This process involved layering two different images over one another and tearing away the layers. I did several explorations and trials before landing on the lone result that would eventually be a part of the set.
Ultimately, I chose to print four arrangements, all of which are connected through medium yet can stand on their one as well as in a set. After printing, I handcut each of the 30 stickers.