Seattle Artist | Muralist | Gabrielle Abbott
Gabrielle Abbott | Muralist | Multi-Media Artist
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Join me here for musing on my creative process, latest art news, tutorials and other magic. The Brave Siren is anyone who commits to creativity and blows the whistle on injustice. The Brave Siren loves fiercely and radically. Art, spirituality and social justice are ONE. 

 

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Collage for a Cause: Making Political Postcards

Send your political representatives mail they will notice, and maybe even keep.

Handmade art can communicate your message more effectively than a phone call. Let me tell you a story: Once, when I worked as a waitress, I had the pleasure of serving Patricia Hymanson, a Democratic state representative from Maine. We got to talking about politics, and I mentioned the upcoming workshop I'd be leading. In Ms. Hymanson's words,

Anti-Nazi collage by Erwin Blumenfeld from the 1930s. Blumenfeld was interned in a concentration for being Jewish, but managed to escape to American were he continued a sucessful photography career.

Anti-Nazi collage by Erwin Blumenfeld from the 1930s. Blumenfeld was interned in a concentration for being Jewish, but managed to escape to American were he continued a sucessful photography career.

"Anything with handwriting gets more attention, art might even be saved." Everyone is calling their representatives these days, but most calls follow a set script that has been suggested by activist groups or even political apps such as 5Calls.  While the increase in citizen activism is wonderful, the impersonal nature of scripted calls can mean your message becomes another tally on a list. A personal message incorporating your original art is a powerful way to create an emotional connection with your local politician.  

Did you know that collage art has it's roots in anti-nazi propaganda? The first serious collage artist were the Dadaists, a group of anti-establishment artists active during World War I and II. The act of creating a collage is a metaphor for political change. You take existing materials of little of no worth, and reimagine them into something of greater value. 

Join me Sunday, June 25th for a free collage and poster-making workshop at Outsider Comics and Geek Boutique in Fremont. We'll be painting political protest signs and creating collages to send to our representatives. The workshops is free and we'll have all the supplies on hand for you to stock up your art-arsenal before the next protest. If you can't make it, the tutorial below explains everything you need know to make some awesome protest collages at home. Resist. Rise. Rebuild.⠀ 

Protip: If you’re not sure who your representatives are, there are plenty of websites that make it easy to find out. Additionally, there are sites which tell you which causes need the most urgent attention. Here’s a few examples:

DEMOCRACY.IO: Find out who your congressional representatives are and how to contact them.

SOLIDARITY SUNDAYS: This fantastic site lists important calls to action every other week. Issues range from abortion, to evironmental protection and gun-control. Solidarity Sunday is a coalition of feminist political action groups.


Make Your Own Collage Postcards

Materials:

Materials you probably have around the house

Materials you probably have around the house

  • old magazines, brochures, newspapers, books or other printed materials

  • glue stick or acrylic medium

  • carboard, (cereal boxes cardstock, or old boxes

  • packing tape

  • plain white aper

  • scissors, or exact-o knives

 


Step 1: Select your images

Don't think about it too much- just cut out anything that appeals to you.

Don't think about it too much- just cut out anything that appeals to you.

Go through your printed materials and select images which relate to an issue you're passionate about. Cut out anything that resonates with you with thinking too much- you will have time to play around with compositions later. Keep your selections somewhere safe as you're browsing, it's easy to lose the small scraps of paper! You can also cut out letters to write a message, and keep your eyes peeled for entire words that match what you want to say.

*Artist Tip: experiment with juxtaposition and surrealism as you select your images. For example, if you want to make a statement about protecting the environment, select images that depict dirty pollution as well as natural preservation. Collage allows you to create altered realities: figures can have multiple heads, and be disproportionately sized. Embrace the unusual as you look for inspiration. 


Step 2: Compose your image

Compose the whole image before glueing.

Compose the whole image before glueing.

Before you start glueing, experiment with different arrangements on your cardboard. You can play around with different shapes for your card, such as  a circle or triangle. You can even cut the cardboard to fit an organic shape, such as the globe encircled with image in the photo. Remember letters can be any shape as long as they have the right postage.


Step 3: Glue your images

glue sticks or acrylic medium are both great

glue sticks or acrylic medium are both great

Once you have decided on a composition, you can glue everything down. Glue sticks usually work great, but they can sometimes be clunky when working with small, complex shapes. Another option is to paint clear acrylic medium onto the backs of your images and press them onto your collage surface. As the acrylic medium dries it will affix the images to your surface.

Artist Tip: Combine drawing or painting with your collage for a mixed media effect. This allows you to be more specific with your message, and manually enhance aspects of your artwork. 

hand lettering with acrylic apint

hand lettering with acrylic apint

cross-hatching in pen to create depth

cross-hatching in pen to create depth


Step 4: Create a paper backing

Glue white paper (or another color of your choice) to the back of your cardboard. This will become your writing surface. You can trace the shape of your cardboard ahead of time, or trim that paper after you've glued it. 

I find it easiest to paint larger areas with acrylic medium. Using an old paint brush, you can evenly cover the entire surface and then gently lay the white paper down on top. Any wrinkles can be smoothed out with your fingertips. 

apply acrylic medium liberally over the board

apply acrylic medium liberally over the board

lay down blank paper and smooth wrinkeles

lay down blank paper and smooth wrinkeles


Step 5: Write your message

plan your note in pencil first- remember to include your address so that your representative knows you're a constituent

plan your note in pencil first- remember to include your address so that your representative knows you're a constituent

Very important: If you are writing to your representative, Include your name and address somewhere in your message. This alerts the politician that you are their constituent and they are required to represent your views,.

Make sure your writing is legible, and the address is clearly printed. 

 

 


Step 6: Create a protective seal for your artwork

Collage images can be prone to peeling. To protect your postcard as it journeys to it's final destination, you can apply a layer of clear plastic packing tape over the surface. This will hold your images in place, and protect the artwork form water damage or rough handling. You can also apply the packing tape over the written message on the backside, just make sure to place the proposer postage on top of the packing tape.

protect your collage with packing tape

protect your collage with packing tape

cover both sides and cut away excess

cover both sides and cut away excess

You're done! Drop you postcard in the mail and give yourself a pat on the back for letting your voice be heard and taking part in your civic duty.