1. Introduction
2. Project Brief

3. Mandatories
4. Why Collage?
5. Hints and Tips
6. Contact Nicholas



“Create a collage, using public domain images, that gives visual form to one of Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘imaginary beings’.”



1. Introduction


Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings contains brief descriptions of 120 beasts from mythology and folklore, including creatures that may be quite familiar to us (like unicorns and hippogriffs) as well as many that may not be (like the monkey of the inkpot and the zaratan.)



2. Project Brief


Your brief is to create a collage, using public domain images, that gives visual form to one of these imaginary beings.


3. Mandatories


︎ It’s important to remember that you are not being asked to draw your being. This is a collage project, so you should use found imagery.
︎ When using found images, for copyright reasons, you may only use those that are authentically public domain. Some excellent resources here:


︎ Have fun! Once you have some found images, try combining them in a variety of unexpected ways. For example, try using a photograph of an ancient Greek sculpture with elements from a Renaissance painting — or parts of a Japanese woodcut with a medieval icon! (There is more information on this in ‘Why Collage?’ below.)
︎ The final graphic must be A3 portrait (297mm x 420mm), in a CMYK colourspace (which means that all images must be CMYK or grayscale). Resolution must be 326ppi.


4. Why Collage?


There are a number of advantages to using collage – you can make and rearrange images very quickly, and constantly surprise and delight yourself.


One of the great things about collage is that you can suggest the strangest of narratives just by setting a scene. In Julien Pecaud’s image (left) we have entered a multi-dimensional, dream-like space. Every object in this image is quite familiar to us, but when they are combined in this way our perceptions of a lived reality quickly begin to fragment. In Kieron Cropper’s image (right), a group of mysterious figures are being drawn, like sleepwalkers, towards a supernatural event of some kind. Again, the images used are quite familiar to us, but in combination a whole new world, with its own strange rules and realities, has been conjured.


Another advantage of collage is that so much can be done with so little. In Sarah Eisenlohr’s image (left), a simple change of scale has radically shifted our perceptions: two ordinary young women have become giant tourists, striding the world without apparent care for what is under their feet. In Jesse Draxler’s image (right), three monochrome photos of the same man have been cut and pasted together, creating an instant piece of photo-cubism that is disturbing in its shifting, melting movement.


A creative use of textures can bring about appealing transformations. In Mariano Peccinetti’s image (left), a silhouette has been cut from a photo of the cosmos. With this simple design decision, a fashion model has become an elemental goddess. But it’s not all about using found images: found objects can also be explored to great effect. In this image by Larissa Haily Aguado (right), an old envelope is used as a backdrop, and an unfolded black box has become a podium for three posing athletes. The sophisticated use of positive and negative space also distinguishes her as a collage artist.


Finally, two images from students who have worked on our Borges project, and who have used multiple elements with which to build their images. Mara Lecoiu’s depiction of Cerberus (left) uses images of three different dogs to create the being itself, and suggests (rather than describes) his hellish domain with colour and tone. There is also a lovely idea here, and one that describes Cerberus’ function (and essential doggy-ness!) to great effect: as guardian of the underworld, he snaps at these unfortunate souls as they fall from the air. Another good example of this use of multiple images is Nikita Leigh’s Offspring of Leviathan (right). Look closely and you will see that the neck is made from an arm, the eye from two hands, and the teeth from fingers. Nikita has then augmented these assembled images with drawn shapes, lines, tones, colours, and background textures.


5. Hints and Tips


︎ Once you have chosen your being, read Borges’ description carefully. What are the key aspects and features of this being? If the great man’s description is not detailed enough...
︎ ...then Wikipedia is a good place to go next. (There is a full list of the creatures in the book, with links to further information, here.) But you should also look at historical books and images where your being has been mentioned or visualised. For example, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a famous poem about the Kraken, which is full of descriptive imagery.
︎ If you find a public domain image that you like, but it is too small or of too poor a quality to use, try halftoning it. This gives images an old newspaper-like effect that can be quite appealing.
︎ You can also make use of your own photographs if you wish (as long as you are the copyright holder!)
︎ You can also add type if you like. But if you do, we ask that you don’t use text from Borges’ book, as this is not in the public domain.
︎ While we have asked that you do not draw your chosen imaginary being, there is a place for some drawn elements in your collage – but they should only be there to support or augment your work. (Again, see Nikita Leigh’s image above.)
︎ You can assemble your collage manually, digitally, or a combination of both. It’s up to you!


6. Contact Nicholas


︎ If you would like to talk about the project or your work, you can email me at nicholasjeeves[at]anglia.ac.uk. We can also Skype. My Skype name: nicholasjeeves. Look for this profile picture: