Influenced by her background in film and fashion, Quinn Mason creates digital collage art from magazines, post cards and photography with a narrative of female empowerment and popular culture. Here, she shares her process with Pirl, as well as tips on getting started and her greatest inspirations.
How did you become interested in creating digital collages?
When I was younger I used to love cutting out images from magazines and creating cut and paste collages to decorate my room. I studied film at university so I’ve always been really drawn to visual and digital storytelling, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I actually started making collages digitally and posting them online. At first I was just doing doodles and digital illustrations, but I felt that something was missing. I love creating these little worlds and whimsical visual settings but was finding it difficult to do with my illustrations.
How did you learn the skills required to create your art?
I’m self-taught so I never had any formal training in Photoshop or anything like that. I did a lot of googling and watching of YouTube tutorials early on – and still do! My senior year at university I took a printmaking class and got really into chine-collé. I had this amazing professor and classmates – it was definitely one of my favorite classes ever. I wish I had taken it earlier so I could have dedicated more academic time to printmaking. I’ve definitely adapted a lot of what I learned into a digital sense for the collages I’m making now.
Could you tell us a bit about your process?
Sometimes it starts with the central image of a girl around which I want to create the collages. Other times, I will just get really inspired by other elements like flowers or colors, or vintage postcards and it takes some time to dig through a bunch of images to piece everything together. I usually get quite absorbed in the process or will have multiple ideas at once so I’ll make a few collages in one creative session, but then need a break to recharge.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I guess I get a lot of inspiration from music and movies. I’m constantly listening to music while working and I would probably cease to exist without Netflix. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to Lana del Rey’s newest album on repeat, and I think a lot of my flower collages transpired from that. I also love Pinterest and Tumblr for finding inspiring images to use in my collages.
Lately I’ve been really into some illustrators from the 60s like Peter Max, Alan Aldridge, and John Alcorn. I have this vivid memory of an Alcorn book when I was a kid and just being so mesmerized by the colors and shapes. I love Anthony Gerace‘s collages. His use of color and texture is so good. I’ve also been obsessed with Tati Compton‘s tattoos for ages! She’s a stick and poke tattoo artist who creates the raddest, most powerful and intricate tattoos!
Is there an overriding message in your work?
I have a flower motif going on right now with a lot my collages and that relates closely to my recurring theme of female empowerment and growth. Young girls are so creative and smart and I really just want to celebrate that and hopefully make images they find inspiring.
What is the most challenging collage you’ve ever created?
A lot of the times I’m commissioned to make a collage or doing a collaboration, I’m given full creative control, which is, of course, so fun for me and awesome people are putting trust in my work, but it can also be difficult since I’m a perfectionist and really want to capture exactly what the client embodies. Or sometimes if I’m trying something new with my collages, the process can be hard but that’s also the exciting and rewarding part.
What makes your work fun?
I love just getting lost in the process and the flow of creativity. A lot of times, I’ll only have a partial idea of what I want to create when I start and will become so absorbed in the process that hours will fly by and I’ll end up with something entirely different than what I planned. I also love the flexibility and freedom that comes with the digital medium as opposed to analog collages.
What is your dream job or are you already in your dream job?
Good question! That’s tough to answer because I think that changes daily for me! There are so many things I’d love to do, and a year ago I wasn’t even making digital collages so I never would have believed you if you told me this would be my job. I’ve had jobs that my heart wasn’t in and weren’t a good fit for me, so working for myself and doing something I genuinely enjoy is definitely a dream that I feel very lucky to be doing.
If someone is interested in creating digital collage art, what advice do you have for them?
Just keep creating! As with anything when you first start, it can be frustrating and discouraging that your ideas aren’t necessarily materializing in the way you envision. Sometimes the ideas come easily and sometimes it can be a struggle to create. Just keep at it – try to create everyday even if just for 5 minutes. Ask for the opinions and constructive feedback from people you admire and trust, but don’t get too caught up on it because the only opinion that really matters is your own. Creating something that you love is really one of the most satisfying and empowering feelings!
“I used a lot of imagery and colors that make me feel comfortable and creative. I was really inspired by Pirl’s concept of the shell as a home.” – a collage for PIRL
“My work space changes almost daily.” – at Toms Roasting Co in Venice Beach
Early bird or night owl? Definitely night owl – people are usually surprised if I’m up before noon.
Winter or summer? Summer
Rural or urban? Urban
Sci-Fi or fantasy? Fantasy
Call or text? Text. I’m shamefully terrible about answering or returning calls.
Form or Function? That sweet spot where they overlap and both apply.
Serious or funny? Funny
Outside or inside? I love being outside at night during the summer. It’s perfect!
Hop or skip? Skip
Reality or drama? Drama
To see more of Quinn’s work, follow her on instagram and visit her website for commissions.