Thought Orbs

This series by Nathaniel Whitcomb (which I found while browsing flickr) really caught my eye. I love seeing conceptual experiments done with collage, this one in particular is about peeking into the thoughts of the subject by displaying a small portion of their environment. Read on for Nathaniel's own details and a link to the rest of the series.

Thought Orbs is a collage study. By isolating the figure in an image and displaying one small portion of the environment we are able to glimpse into their thoughts. Even if it is merely a millisecond as they survey their surroundings.

via Nathaniel Whitcomb


Whose photographs are they? If they are not his own.....??????? it does not seem like enough to just "borrow" someone's work even if it is an interesting face. If they ARE his that enriches the content .
The circle does not give me ("we") much sense of an environment let alone their thoughts and blacking out their hands seems arbitrary.
I more often find the work you show here to be interesting, dense in imagery , sensitive to design and point of view.
Thanks for all you do to show good work.

Generally, the photographs collage artists use are public domain or from National Geographic or other publications. These collages are no different from the rest.

What appealed to me with these collages was the composition and the concept behind them.

Thank you for your feedback, but I stand by my choices! I enjoy showing a well rounded view of the art form itself and how people are interpreting it.

Personally, I think these are good works. The artist attributes them as a study, and at quick glance once can see the examinations of color and proportion across the compositions.

Daisy, collage is historically a medium re-appropriating found imagery through the use of fair use, for decorative use, propaganda or political response, as well as the pursuit of fine art. Here, Whitcomb creates a small survey examining the expressions within portraiture of other artists, creating a derivative work as a result.

I don't think Whitcomb is trying to change the world here, or commercially profit off the work of others, instead pursuing something more akin to a visual experimentation in the studio as laboratory.

Great find, Aprile!

Thanks for the history lesson. Just for the record , I've been making collages since 1962. I admired the work of Max Ernst, Tuli Kupferberg, Hannach Hoch and others back then, even was aware of Joseph Cornells' ventures into collage, though they were harder to find than his boxes. I did seek to find a personal "voice' different from theirs.
Though public domain laws vary from 75 years to 100 according to country, I realize many people "borrow" from more recent work , especially non editorial magazine reproductions to use in their art. I have no quarrel with this use , especially when it is transformed or revised without being insensitive or disrespectful of the originators intentions.
It does seem minimal effort or thought has gone into work where the removal of an others' original effort would render that piece devoid of literal or visual content .

Daisy, may we see some of your work?

Notpaper is a blog dedicated to showcasing the work of international collage artists. We strive to meet the artists and understand the thoughts behind the process, so interviews with artists are a big part of what we do. If you are new to the site, please enjoy our archives featuring hundreds of collagists!   more 


Sorry, artwork submissions are temporarily closed.

For any other non submission related inquiries, please email:



Upcoming Events

Recent Tweets




More Friends

Where In The World


  • The Collage Workbook

    "How to get started and stay inspired"

    132 pages, Published by Lark Crafts (June 5, 2012), ISBN: 1454701994.

    Available from Lark Crafts.
    - - - - - - - - -

  • BOLO Magazine 1

    "Stars Are Indispensible"

    96 pages in 2 colors, black and blue, 17 x 21.5 cm, 45 contributors from all over the world. The main theme is: "Stars are indispensable". It contains a music cd with 19 tracks.

    Available from BOLO store.

    - - - - - - - - -

  • WAFA Zine 03

    "Everything At Every Moment Is Awaiting Your Arrival."

    Limited Edition of 50 copies. Full color, 3.75 x 5″. Embossed front cover. Hand-sewn Japanese stab stitch binding. Edition number of 50, hand-numbered on reverse.

    Available from WAFA Storefront.

    - - - - - - - - -

  • Masters: Collage

    Major Works by Leading Artists

    Curated by Randel Plowman

    This superb new collection offers a stunning look at contemporary collage work from approximately 40 leading artists.

    Available from Lark Books.

    - - - - - - - - -

  •  more