Mixel is home to many music themed collages and some of our favorites were inspired by the Beatles. The Beatles represent just one of the artists whose album art and imagery have made their way into our app and we’re loving the collages that have been created.
For more music related mixels, scope out the Music Mixels board on Pinterest.
As part of our ongoing series interviewing collage artists that inspire us, we sat down with Chuck Anderson of NoPattern Studio. We’ve long admired Chuck’s work, so it was with happy hearts that we chatted with him about his work outside and inside of Mixel.
Mixel: What first kindled your interest in creating collages? When did you create your first collage?
Chuck: Putting lots of different elements together has always sort of been a theme in my work, whether it’s true collage like what Mixel enables, or juxtaposing really different types of imagery together like in my personal work…for example, a really simple photo of a parking lot with lots of light and color added over top is a common thread in my personal work. I just find it really fun to create something completely new out of other things I suppose. Using any type of collage makes the process itself really fun because you sort of surprise yourself as you go, “What if I put that there instead?” kind of thing, and suddenly you have a completely different composition and aesthetic. I’m just kind of fascinated by that.
My first collage, that’s kind of tricky, because I’ve really been making art my whole life in some form or another. I can’t put my finger on exactly when the first time I created a collage was, but most likely in grade school in an art class, cutting things out of magazines and newspapers. I always felt like I was weird though because I was the one looking for bones, guts, and eyeballs instead of flowers and cats. However, once I started using Photoshop sometime around 7th grade, that’s when I really took a liking to mashing imagery up and making collages. When I started taking it seriously and taking a lot of my own photos, that’s really when I became interested in collage.
M: So it was the digital tools that hooked you?
C: Absolutely! Once you put that Elmer’s glue on the back of a piece of cut-out magazine and press it on paper and give it 10 seconds, that’s it. With Photoshop it was like, “Ah, I don’t like how that looks there, let me hide or move that layer real quick…” Cutting out things is so much easier too of course,…no scissors or X-Acto blades.
While I certainly do love using manual tools to create things, hence why my Wacom is such an important thing to me, I feel fortunate to have grown up in the pre-digital age, where until about age 14 there really was no computer for me to make things on. So I definitely have an appreciation for that stuff (analog tools) which I think really helps when you combine an understanding of it with digital tools.
M: What makes the collage medium so unique?
C: The fact that part of what goes into a good collage is research and a knack for finding good material in the first place is, I think, what makes it unique. With painting, drawing, or sculpture, for example, you have your medium and you create something out of nothing. With collage you create something out of something else, and make something totally new. When done creatively, the ability to repurpose other people’s work, integrate imagery that an audience is already familiar with (ie logos, familiar characters, etc), and give an existing element a new shape and purpose makes it unique to me.
M: What inspires your work?
C: On a general level, I just really enjoy working with light and color. It has always been something I’ve been drawn to, really vibrant tones and harsh contrasts. I’ve also always been drawn to mysterious/dark/eerie imagery, so combining the light/color with the mysterious/dark is something I’m inspired by. I find that inspiration in all sorts of everyday things.
There are a lot of artists I’m inspired by, most of whom do work that is nothing like mine which is kind of funny. Tattoo artists like Thomas Hooper, fine artists/illustrators like KAWS, James Jean, and Raymond Pettibon. I find inspiration in the way people do things a lot of times, not necessarily in their styles.
M: What is the art/design community like in Grand Rapids, MI where you are based?
C: It’s pretty broad. I have, unfortunately, not gotten super involved in it, as I am such an independent/solo type of person and artist, but there is some really excellent stuff going on here for being a mid-sized city.
The GRAM (Grand Rapids Art Museum) that just opened a few years ago is really gorgeous. Beautifully designed & modern. Of course, Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Haworth are in West Michigan so there’s a really deep connection to smart design and furniture/industrial design here. Very under-rated and under-appreciated by the rest of the world too, honestly, but it’s making waves. Of course there’s also the ArtPrize which has made a big impact.
M: Where do you find the materials that you work with?
C: Generally I like to say, “Anywhere but stock.” I hate using stock imagery. Sometimes you have to, especially for client jobs that require imagery you simply can’t obtain yourself, but my materials - especially for personal work - almost always generate from my own photography, drawings, and creations.
With collages though, I like to hunt in magazines a lot of times. I’m a magazine fiend, I buy and save lots of them. Fashion, art, culture, music, and design magazines mostly, I save them and eventually go through and cut stuff out of them that I like, whether it’s a full page or just a portion of it. I try to get out with my camera and just take pictures of all sorts of things. Textures, landscapes, people, skies, whatever, so that when I’m making something later and think “I need some clouds here,” I can use something that I was fully responsible for.
M: Do you try and reproduce your distinct color palette in Mixel?
C: I do try to recreate my color palette in Mixel, definitely. I’ve actually done it by collaging my own work, cutting out shapes from a larger piece and repeating it over and over, which is the most literal way to recreate it. I tend to lean towards searching for imagery and colors that are generally unexpected and somewhat clashing, yet harmonious at the same time, if that makes any sense at all.
M: How does it feel to see people remix your work?
C: It’s really cool to see people take elements you’ve searched for or developed, then cut up and rework it even more. The best remixes on Mixel seem to be the ones that rethink their elements entirely rather than just simply making a Part 2 of the original collage. Really it’s just fun, because in the context of Mixel, remixing and reusing things is encouraged and there seems to be a really friendly, positive community there.
M: Any advice to budding collage artists in Mixel?
C: Use as many of your own elements as possible. When you need something you have to do a web search for, really look around. Searching “sky” and just grabbing the first picture of a sky that pops up is a little easy. If you’re going to do it, do it well and put some effort in. Curate your elements and image selections carefully for a better end result. Participate, Like/Love other peoples stuff, comment, etc, all the things that make for a good community experience. Use Mixel as a sketchbook, a place to generate ideas, get ideas, and see things in new ways. I feel like the same goes for any creative endeavor though - sketching, drawing, writing, photography, arts of all kinds…do more of it, every day. Don’t get rusty as a creative person. Keep your mind occupied and imaginative. I’m looking at 2012 as the year where I absorb less and stop trying so hard to look for inspiration and simply create more and have more fun with it.
Not really, it’s actually just raining water here in New York, but we’ve noticed quite a few amazing and hilarious cat mixels. Cats collaged with birds, breakfast food, cars and planes, just to name a few. These mixels are fun and we can’t help but smile and laugh a little bit whenever we see them.
For more cats in Mixel, check out our Pinterest board.
Tom Shillue is an actor, comedian, and storyteller who enjoys making collages with his 5 year old daughter, Agnes. We chatted with Tom and Agnes about their thoughts on Mixel and creating art.
Mixel: How would you describe Mixel?
Agnes: Making pictures with collage. There are pictures and you cut them out and put them on a pretend piece of paper.
Tom: When I tell people about it I say, “You have to just try it first.” Because if I say, “It’s a collage making app” they will be like “Oh, yeah, maybe later.” If I say, “It’s a social app,” they will get scared because everyone thinks there are too many social apps already.
Agnes, Lots of Peacock, 2011
M: Why do you make collages and what first kindled your interest in them?
A: Because I like art and that you get to cut stuff, and I like cutting. Usually when you cut them out, you can take two pictures and collapse them, and it looks really pretty to combine them.
T: We do collages and other art together at a place called Wave Hill here in The Bronx. They have art on the weekends- it’s a huge art room, and they do a different theme every week. It is really a great place.
I remember making my first collage well. It was at my Aunt’s house in Canton, MA. We had 5 kids in my family and they put us all out in the garage with magazines, scissors and glue. My sisters made really amazing collages using pictures from the fashion magazines, and I felt mine was not as good. When we lined them up in the driveway everyone voted on their favorite, and I remember my aunt picked mine. I was so glad someone liked mine the best! I was probably about 5, Agnes’ age. I remember thinking that my aunt may be just trying to make me feel good, but it didn’t matter. I got a vote!
M: What’s your background in art, Tom?
T: I was an art room kid in high school. We had a great art program in Norwood, MA. I was a performer and always looking for ways to get attention, but there was no theater program at school. The art room was the hangout for the alternative kids. I thought I would end up going to art school. My sister went to Rhode Island School of Design and I used to go down there to hang out and soak up the scene. But then my performer side took over and I went into comedy. I still like to do visual art to escape and unwind. I joined a life drawing meetup a few years ago, and it became the highlight of my week.
Tom, Three Me, 2012
M: Why did you decide to create mixels together?
T: I’m always looking for iPad stuff to do with her, but I don’t like video games. We were making paintings with a paint program and sending them to her grandparents. When I started using Mixel, I was like “Agnes, get over here!”
The social aspect of the app really is what makes it fun. That we can remix other peoples mixels, and they can “like” and comment on ours. Agnes will say, “Dad, can we open Mixel and see if anyone remixed our collage?” One of Agnes’ first collages got a “like” from Khoi and Agnes was so excited. It reminded me of my aunt’s driveway!
Agnes, People Line, 2012
M: What are some things that you like about the app and why do you like using Mixel?
A: When someone makes a mix of mine! I like doing collages and that’s a collage even though I’m not doing it on paper I’m doing it on something else. That’s fun ‘cause I usually do it on paper.
T: I really like the remixing, because it allows you some insight into how the other collage was made. Sometimes I’ll see a collage that’s so amazing, I’ll think, “how did they do that?” So I try my hand at remixing. Then the challenge is to make something different.
M: How old do you think someone should be when they make their first mixel?
T: Well, I think whenever they are comfortable with using it. I was surprised Agnes took to it without any instruction. She just started poking around. I use my Facebook account, so it’s fine that she just posts using mine. I’ve seen a few other people on Mixel who do the same. But we each have our own Tumblr that we post to, so Agnes can have a gallery of her mixels on display, and we can send the link to relatives.
Tom, Hat Trick, 2012
M: Agnes, how do you find using Mixel, is it easy? Hard?
A: Most times easy, sometimes hard. The cutting is sometimes hard. When I’m trying to cut outside the picture, and there is a little bit of white outside the picture, it’s hard. I want the white part, but sometimes it goes ON the line, when I don’t want it to. I want the white around it.
M: Where do you find the inspiration for your collages, Agnes?
A: I just pick a picture that I want, then I just start making a little picture. Then I just go from there!
M: What inspires the collages that you two make together?
T: She is usually driving it. She gets an idea and kind of laser beams on it.
M: Any advice to budding collage artists?
T: I would say “Just Do It” dive right in and don’t worry how it looks or if it is pretty enough. Some of my favorite mixels are the most simple.
M: Tom, do you have any advice to other families thinking of using Mixel together?
T: I would say do like I did- post mom and dad’s Mixels on the same account with the kids. It takes the pressure off me to be a great artist. I think if it was just me posting, I would start to worry about my Mixel reputation! Now, it’s a family thing, so there’s no pressure.
Agnes, Turkey Funny, 2011
Thank you, Tom and Agnes for chatting with us!
Oh what one can do with a single image in Mixel! Quite a few of our favorite mixels were created from just one source. In these stunning mixels, a lone image is cropped multiple times and the results bear little resemblance to the original. Take a gander:
Last month’s Mixel meet up in Brooklyn was such a blast. We had a great time making collages together and chatting about different Mixel techniques. As soon as it was done, we knew that something like that should happen on the West Coast too.
We’ll be in San Francisco January 26-28 and would love to meet with you Bay Area Mixel-makers. What happens at these gatherings? It’s where you can talk about Mixel, meet other Mixel users, share your ideas about new features, and where there most likely will be at least one group mixel going.
We were delighted to learn that Mixel was used in a high-school design workshop at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. The three-session long workshop led by John Emerson, graphic designer and activist, focused on design and social change and was organized by the education department of the Cooper-Hewitt in conjunction with the exhibition “Design with the Other 90%: Cities,” recently on display in the lobby of the United Nations.
With only two hours for production and revision, finding the right tool that would allow the students to create great work quickly was critical. On the decision to use Mixel, John said, “We loved using Mixel, it was the perfect tool for the job and it really allowed the students to get creative without needing to learn a complicated piece of software.”
The students worked in teams to study the different kinds of power conveyed through images and how they can be effective in social change. Using what they had learned about successful graphic design campaigns, the students then created their own, focusing on issues that were close to home, like overcrowding in schools and service on the subway. Although some of the students had not worked on an iPad before they “got” Mixel right away and the work was great.
We’re so happy to hear about how the students used Mixel and are proud to share some of the work they created. John’s parting words about the app, “Mixel was the right tool for the job, the students loved it and it unlocked so much creativity.”
When we spotted this series of connected mixels by Isaac Art Grant we knew we had to share it with everyone on the blog. The image of the stretch Mini Cooper spans three mixels and is a use of the app that we hadn’t anticipated.
To get the full effect we recommend opening the thread in Mixel.
We love celebrating mixels, have you seen one that we should spotlight on the blog?
As we mentioned in our recently published community guidelines we rely on our users to let us know when there’s inappropriate content in Mixel. Flagging is a simple two-step process.
1. Tap on “Share" in the thread view. This is the same step that you’d follow if you wanted to email someone the mixel you’ve created or share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. After you click "Share" the mixel will flip over.
2. Tap on “Flag as inappropriate" in the lower left hand corner. Once a mixel is flagged it comes to our attention and we review it. If we agree that it’s inappropriate, we remove it.
Thank you for helping us keep Mixel a fun and delightful place for everyone to explore. Have something to share about the guidelines and/or flagging process? Join the discussion on Facebook.
In many ways, Mixel is being invented in real time, and we’ve been learning day-by-day what kind of community makes sense for it. What we’ve seen so far is a fantastically supportive and artistic group of people from all walks of life, and we knew we wanted to craft community guidelines that will help perpetuate that positivity as much as possible. So today we’re publishing our community guidelines for the first time. Here they are:
1. Be kind
What makes Mixel so special is the community that uses it. Be kind to each other in every comment and every remix, and treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.
2. Keep it clean
Mixel is a family-friendly environment, and that means no nudity, hateful content or anything you would be uncomfortable sharing with your mom. If you find content that violates this please let us know by flagging it for review (learn how to flag something here).
3. Talk to us
Is there something that is not working the way it’s supposed to? Do you have an idea for a feature? Let us know! Email us at desk-at-mixel.cc.
You can find these guidelines permanently posted here.
Hopefully these will go a long way towards maintaining an environment that’s a great place for everyone to explore. We’re eager to hear what you, our community, has to say. We invite you to share your thoughts on our Facebook fan page.
We’re beyond excited about the work of Paul Soulellis, which is being showcased in a juried photography exhibit at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in January and February. Why, might you ask are we so thrilled about this? Well, beyond the fact that it’s great work, the two pieces that he’s showing were created in our humble little app, Mixel.
This is the first art show featuring work created in Mixel and we’re very proud that Paul selected our app as the tool he used to create his art. We asked Paul about this experience and he shared the following thoughts about Mixel:
For me, playing on Mixel is like creative aerobics. It feels like I’m stretching my eyes and brain, and using my finger as the interface between the two is natural. Using a finger to point and command and make (very basic, very human, child-like) gives Mixel the quality of intuitive meditation/exercise. There’s nothing I’m doing in Mixel that I couldn’t do in Photoshop, but it’s the absence of features that allows me to focus on the point-and-command, gestural quality of making art.
Once he learned that his work was going to be shown in the exhibit he began to consider the printing options. What size should a mixel be? Should it be the same size as an iPad screen? Smaller? Larger? Ultimately, Paul decided to print the images larger, 16 x 24. By printing the mixels larger, the jagged edges and varying amounts of pixelation give the works texture and a painterly feel, and as Paul notes, “the reference to iPad goes away and the work jumps into another realm.”
We also asked Paul if he had any advice to budding collage artists or thoughts on Mixel as a tool:
I strongly believe Mixel should be seen as a valuable tool by anyone who feels compelled to challenge our traditional ideas about art making and digital techniques. It seems like the emphasis has been on Mixel as a fun and humorous thing, almost toy-like. I think it is that and that’s wonderful, but artists should be encouraged to see this as a serious art-making tool as well. From what I’ve seen so far, there are a few artists producing great work on there.
The exhibition at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver opens on January 13 and ends on February 11. If you’re in the Denver area be sure to stop by and check out Paul’s fantastic work in person.
We at Mixel have a deep appreciation for collage that extends far beyond our app. One of our favorite artists in this “real-world” collage space is Charles Wilkin, whom we were lucky enough to chat with after a recent collage show he curated in Brooklyn titled All That Remains.
Untitled (Stain #4), 2010
Mixel: What first kindled your interest in creating collages and when did you create your first collage?
Charles Wilkin: I sort of fell into collage by accident. I was late for a drawing class in college and showed up with nothing more than photo prints I’d made in a previous class. Instead of giving me the smack down for being unprepared, my drawing teacher said, “Well Charles why don’t you try making a collage with those images?” Clearly she saw something in my work that day because she never asked me to bring paper or pencils to that class again.
While I’d made collages before as a kid, I never seriously explored collage as a medium until that serendipitious moment. But it wasn’t until I discovered the inherent similarities between collage and graphic design through the work of artists like Kurt Schwitters and Robert Rauschenberg that I knew this was my medium. Ultimately, collage allows me to mix all of the things I love; pattern, type, photography and found objects.
M: What makes the collage medium so unique?
CW: For me what makes collage so unique and exciting is its immediacy. Collage is essentially a product of its environment with all of its media overload and discarded ephemera. I personally love the challenge of making something out of essentially nothing. This is also what keeps collage in motion, it’s never really the same thing twice. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people don’t take collage and collage artists seriously, but when you look at contemporary collage its clearly become so much more than paper and glue.
M: What inspires your work?
CW: My biggest inspiration is everyday life. It sounds corny but an idle conversation with a friend and getting lost while traveling, have yielded some amazing ideas. I try to be a sponge and just take it all in, even if it doesn’t seem interesting or important at the time. Things always bubble up over time and have a strange way of making their way into my work. The best ideas always seem to be very spontaneous and really play a huge role in how I work. I never know where I’m going with a piece until I get there.
Men Are Pawns, 2010
M: Where do you find the materials that you work with and what tools do you use to create your collages?
CW: You can usually find me at garage sales, flea markets and antique stores trolling for old magazines, books and paper scraps. I’ve also bought boxes of magazines on eBay too, its amazing what people will throw out.
Tape, glue and cacti knives are my basic tools. I also use printers and a scanner when I’m working digitally.
M: How long do you typically work on each piece?
CW: It depends really, small works will sometimes take an hour or maybe all day. When I’m working with large mixed media, it certainly can take me several days. I find that if I’m really focused and feeling inspired, pieces happen very quickly. When I’m stuck and getting nowhere, I’ll just stop or move on to something else. In general I tend to work spontaneously and never really think about the amount of time it takes, I like to just let the process run its course.
M: You recently curated a show of collage art in Brooklyn, All That Remains, could you share with us a little bit about this experience?
CW: Yes, sure. All That Remains was a group show of 25 collage artists from 10 countries. I curated this show with the initial idea to feature contemporary collage and to try and comment on the impending death of print. What I found was that so many of the artists, with all their diversity of cultures and styles, were all analyzing and telling similar stories. Collages it seems have really become a universal language of sorts. Plus, it’s just great to see so many people doing collage. The level of talent in contemporary collage is simple amazing.
M: How do you feel public perception to collage art has changed over the years?
CW: I think it’s getting better, but still has a long way to go. I don’t think collage will ever be considered an equal to painting, which is sad because both mediums require skill and talent. The great thing about collage is it is an approachable and affordable medium. You really can make something amazing out of what you have in hand. This is where I think collage is truly brilliant, since it requires you to look at the mundane in new ways, forcing you to be creative in ways painting is not.
I think too, we live in a world that’s itself a collage of media, languages and culture. So I suspect in some ways collage seems familiar.
Untitled (Stain #1), 2010
M: Any advice to budding collage artists?
CW: Don’t be afraid, just go for it! Collage is never perfect and the crazier your mix-ups the better. I often will start a collage with a simple idea or story and let the images I find help me fill in the blanks. There really are no rules other than to just have fun.
M: Are you on Mixel?
CW:Yes! I love Mixel, I love that I can make collages on the go. It’s become my new sketch book!
Collage Created in Mixel, 2012
Ever wondered if you could capture the social dynamic of Mixel with analog collages? Check out Muxel. Created by Keenan Cummings, a brand and UI designer, Muxel uses the postal service to bring a social spin to collage art.
The resemblance to Mixel is not accidental and while Muxel is not affiliated with Lascaux Co, we are flattered to have served as the inspiration for this fun project.
Muxel works by asking participants to create collages in the traditional way, but instead of gluing the pieces down, the final composition is photographed then posted online. The artist then mails off the pieces to the next person.
Although the project, like Mixel, is very new, some great work has already been created. Take a gander at these collages and check out Muxel for more great collages and info on the project.