Clemens collages range from the super complex to the pleasantly simple, but no matter, his works are fantastic. I really love the way he uses vintage maps, and it's a shame I didn't find them before this post. And when he explained his shuffling and re-shuffling of materials, I felt like what he put into words described what I, and many of you do before creating collages.
(from Sydney, live and work in Paris)
Q: Describe your work in 10 words or less.
A: Hand rendered function specific illustration.
Q: What do you like to work with (magazines, photographs, vintage)? Be specific!
A: Vintage (printed) papers such as magazines, scores and envelopes, carbon paper, ink, old black and white photographs, maps, old book end papers, acetate, model decals.
Q: How long have you been creating collages and what made you start?
A: Since college. Although I recently found a box full of my old exercise books from primary school and I had covered them with cut out bits from magazines under the protective plastic. I had an illustration tutor who had me fall in love with already distressed paper as a starting point rather than a clean white sheet. I like the economy of using something that already has a feeling inside it, that brings its own history into a composition.
Q: Are you solely an artist, or do you work in another profession?
A: Director and designer as well.
Q: Do you have any formal art training?
A: Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication at University of Technology in Sydney.
A: Cutting rather than drawing a line to get some clarity into things that easily become messy or overly complicated, placing onto an empty or white background. I will often begin a commission by doing and redoing loose sketches and then translate the successful gestures or lines onto an appropriate material. I will start by going through folders of collected scraps, sometimes I will have a particular little piece in mind and it is a question of trying to remember which folder I last put it in, and in the process of looking for it I will start to put aside other little ends and pieces that seem to suit or have potential. Then these all end up in a new folder together once the image is complete, and so on so all my collected materials continue to shuffle and rearrange themselves. The image is planned as a sketch and materials assigned especially a primary pattern or main scrap to carry the piece before it is constructed, and then in the process of making I try to keep it loose enough to take advantage of all those coincidences that are the joy in collaging. In constructing I like to pin the paper together using small price tag stickers as sutures so that the piece is also interesting to see on the reverse as a more chaotic and accidental combination of the same papers.
Q: Describe your favourite piece ever created.
A: I always look fondly at the project 'MOTOR Din 10' which was a motion piece to a rough electronic track. It was one of those projects where the illustrations flowed simply and quickly and naturally and were just fun to be making. I had taken reference photos of a close friend in Berlin when he was hung-over and made a series of 26 portraits uniformly cropped with different facial expressions, becoming progressively more haggard with the track. The collages used a single cut out for the shirt, and there were five hair pieces, so it was only the cut out face that changed in each image, though more variety was added by mix n matching between elements in the edit. The piece was so well received it ended up being screened at the National Film Theatre in London as part of the Antenna music video showcase and I was invited to speak as a guest panelist with another director Johan Renck who had been doing videos for Madonna. These little 10x10cm drawings of a friend were being projected behind me on the biggest screen in London as I sat up on stage, as well as printed 2m high for the posters.
Q: What other artists do you admire?
A: Roman Signer, Ivan Chermayeff, Alexander Calder, Edwina White, and musicians.