Art You Can Do: Modern Collage

I am not quite sure when my fascination with art and photography began.For as long as I can remember I have been creating things.Growing up, my imagination carried me great distances.I used to push around a shoebox as an ambulance with squares of toilet tissue as the beds inside.I picked up a camera for the first time as an early teen.I was immediately infatuated.I am still learning today.


Many years ago I saw an art installation made up of cropped images the artist had collected from various sources.They were arranged in orderly patterns.The result was a sort of modern day collage.Of course, my first thought was, “I could do that”.So I did…and you can, too.

As a starting point coincidently, I was moving all of my CD’s to a binder system.I kept the info booklet that comes inside, but took apart the case to remove the cover art.There is some amazing cover art out there.I had very simple and loose criteria.It had to be somewhat sturdy stock (I never use anything that is lighter than a magazine cover), it had to be interesting, and it had to fit in a 2 7/8” circle.

After the cover art I found more… and more… and more artwork that I thought would work perfectly.You would be surprised at how much beauty exists in everyday print materials, especially when cropped down to less than 3” in diameter.You can look in mailers, greeting cards, magazine covers, brochures, old calendars, etc.

In a very short time, I had hundreds of images.I still collect them today.I keep them in Pringles cans (this, by the way, is what led me to the measurement).I now have at least a couple thousand circles.This is an inexpensive way to create some very unique art for your home.I can proudly say that I have never paid for any of the images specifically for this project.They all are re-use items.Happy hunting.

savour… second time around.


Modern collage

You will need:

  • Lots of images - start scouring the sources above (you could even incorporate some of your own photos).
  • A circle cutter – found in most discount stores or a scrapbooking shop.
  • A cutting board – I typically use the one from my sewing tools.
  • Pringles cans – I guess, if you plan to keep lots of circles (plus… Pringles are good).
  • A frame or series of frames – for the installation in my home I used 6 identical frames from Ikea.
  • 5” x 5” card stock – one piece to cut a circle in and use as a “viewfinder” for images (this will prove invaluable).
  • Ruler
  • T-square (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Craft glue


  1. Make a “viewfinder” by setting your circle cutter to 2 7/8” and cutting a hole out of a 5” x 5” card.5” x 5” is approximate.It just has to be able to surround the circle and give you enough visual break so you can see what you are cropping.
  2. After you have saved your images start cropping out the best parts.This can sometimes be a struggle.You will have to use your creative eye and the “viewfinder” that you made.
  3. Sort the circles out by the method of your choice.I have done it by subject (flowers, for example) and color.For the installation in my home I used color blocking for each frame.
  4. Create a layout that fits your frame appropriately.I intentionally used square frames so that I could create a 4x4 pattern.
  5. Cut a piece of paper the same size as the viewable area of the frame.
  6. Find the center and first draw the center horizontal spacing bar with a ruler and t-square.My space is 3/8” inch, but you may choose slightly larger if that works better for your math.
  7. Measure 2 7/8” in either direction from the outside of that space and draw another horizontal space bar with the same measurement.
  8. Repeat the process for the vertical lines.You should end up with a grid (Download Modern Collage Grid) that has 2 7/8” squares between the lines.
  9. With your circle cutter, cut out circles inside the squares.Be sure to center the cutter.This will be the template for assembling your artwork.
  10. Choose a mounting paper and cut to fit your frame (at least just slightly larger than your mat if you are using one).
  11. Place the template in the middle of your mounting paper.
  12. Decide and layout the circles to your liking.
  13. With a flat paintbrush, lightly apply craft glue (like mod podge) to the back of the circle.
  14. Apply circle within the template you created.Repeat for all circles on this piece.
  15. Remove template and carefully smooth down edges.
  16. Allow to dry completely on a flat surface.
  17. Frame accordingly.