Collaging 1973-2019

I have received more questions regarding the process for creating the illustrations for The Spirit Journey, so I am dedicating this Blog entirely to collaging. In fact, I will start from the very beginning when I began experimenting with the art of collage way back in 1973, and without knowing what it was.

By my early teens I wanted to do more than simply collect Christa’s cartoon strips, I was curious to create them myself, but how? I began by “arranging them in a new way”, that I thought was a “ground breaking” invention. With scissors in one hand, and a bottle of glue in the other, I deftly worked on the extras of my Kajtki strip collection. 

I would play around and recreate particular images that grabbed my attention – here is one of them, from “W kosmosie” #276.

After cutting out the image, I combined it with interesting elements from some other strips. Now, looking at this collage from ’73, it is pretty obvious what was on my 14 year old mind…women!

Much later, when in Canada, I studied at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. It was there, that I learned that my “innovative” cut and paste method, was a respected art form, called collage… and that it has been practiced by artists for hundreds of years.

However, nowadays collaging does still involves some form of cutting and pasting but many creators choose to do that digitally. Pixels are not as messy as bottles of glue! I work with a high definition camera and a graphic illustration program called Affinity Designer. In this way I can create for hours, still pat the cat on my lap, and not make a huge mess in our shared office / studio.

An image from The Spirit Journey (a computer generated collage of some 15 different elements). As you can see, Koko is still recognisable as Koko from strip #276 “W kosmosie”.

Even with computer technology my method is time consuming and more complicated than it looks. The most important part is in envisioning how I want the image to look. Once I can see it in my minds eye, searching for the right elements commences. Then, after all the bits and pieces are roughly assembled, I begin “the clean up” which constitutes redrawing an entirely new layer. This is done to carefully replicate the style of Christa, (see that process explained in details in “Illustrations” section).

Some of you wondered if I am not limiting myself in telling my story by only collaging Christa’s old Kajtki. But, where there is love there are no limits, and I have loved the art of Janusz Christa for most of my life. Doing justice to his creativity and merging his characters (who have been my intimate companions since boyhood) into my own story – is a joy! I take it as a personal mission to shine a light on what Christa has inspired in me. Perhaps these new versions of Kajtek and Koko will kindle something in others too.

Cast your eye on the image at the top of this Blog, of me as a kid. It is composed of 19 separate elements. Can you guess where from?

Wow…, OK!!! Now that you got them all, examine the illustrations below, from The Spirit Journey. Would you be able to tell from which old Kajtek and Koko strips, some of those 26 different elements come from?

Those who are familiar with Christ’a stories, might be able to identify some parts. It might be fun to re-look at Kajtek and Koko, to see for yourself how wonderful they were… and still, to this day are!

Excerpt from my journal, 2019 Yandoit, Australia