the collage mash-up madness of the daily splice
We speak to Adam Hale, the collage artist turning the free magazines you pick up on your morning commute into art.
The Daily Splice (aka Adam Hale) first caught our eye with an unlikely collage mashup of Sam Smith and the star cover of our Winter Warm Up Issue, Jourdan Dunn. In the vein of upcycling, Adam takes images out of free weekly magazines, usually of topical news or recent fashion stories and creates completely new images from them. "There's an immediacy to the work in which current topics, trends and affairs are given new context," he explains, "turning something disposable into something of permanence." Take a glimpse at the Preston-born collage artist's Instagram, the 27-year-old playfully chops up images of Behati Prinsloo, Kiernan Shirpa, Cara Delevingne and the aforementioned Dunn and interlaces them with food, flowers, landscapes and more. We had to ask Adam about the method in his collage madness!
Why did you start creating your collages?
I've always enjoyed drawing and creating work by hand, however when I was studying Graphic Design, I felt obliged to move away from traditional techniques and embrace new technology. I'm not sure whether this was due to the setup of the course, or whether I put myself under pressure to be a part of this New Media generation of designers, but I neglected my analogue skills altogether. Fast forward several years and I'm working for a digital company using collage as a creative outlet in my spare time. To me, collage is the place where contemporary illustration meets sculpture, but it's my perfectionist tendencies that lead people to assume my work is created digitally. I like clean edges and seamless compositions which allow the viewer to focus solely on the narrative within the piece but it differs from the rough tear-and-paste style associated with collage.
What is about the medium of collage that excites you?
What excites me most about collage is the unpredictable nature of assembling pre-existing imagery -- I can sit down at my desk and an hour later I'll have a selection of weird and wonderful creations, none of which were planned. I think this is why it works so well on social media -- my audience have no idea what I'll post next even though there's a certain consistency running through the work.
I like creating a contrast in my work which I suppose is what collage is all about. It's not just the relationship between the subjects within the piece but the visual language used to tell the story. I posted a collage a couple of months ago of a sleeping baby lying peacefully in the open jaws of a waffle iron, obviously a shocking image at first sight but it's supposed to provoke a reaction from the viewer. To me, it's a metaphor for the way we are moulded by society and the things around us that we can't control but I rarely caption my work as I like the audience to come to their own conclusions.
Why do you only use images from free magazines?
I started The Daily Splice as a response to all the free publications I was receiving on my commute and wanted to create something permanent from something disposable. Now, when I'm handed a free magazine at a tube station I feel more like I've been handed a gift. I've learned to take two copies of everything in case I need to use the front and the back of a single page. I like to think there are people who recognize elements of my work from the magazines they've read, especially when I create something and post it on the same day the original was published. I'll often manipulate an image so much, however, that it hardly resembles the original at all so I like to take process shots so I have a record of how a piece evolved.
Have you ever gotten into any trouble for using existing images?
I've never been in trouble for using existing imagery, in fact I've had positive feedback from photographers and models who have recognized their images in my work. I think once they realize I'm not somebody churning out merchandise, they see I'm just trying to create interesting art and I always credit people where possible.
Many collage artists use vintage source material which is often copyright-free but I think the contemporary aesthetic of my work cuts through this oversubscribed style. Although vintage material lends itself to the medium well, it's easier for today's audience to relate to the icons and figures of today.
As you are constantly merging two images and making them one, have you observed anything in particular about modern fashion photography?
I'm constantly sifting through imagery in order to cherry-pick relevant images and so I inevitably spend a lot of time studying photographs from fashion ads and campaigns. I see a lot of variety in the work and believe a strong concept is the key to a good shoot, something that's often lacking in the types of publications I use. I've also witnessed a clear bias towards the use of white models not just in fashion campaigns but within ads from all industries and I worry that this is unavoidably reflected in my work.
Where do you see your collages progressing to?
I'm yet to work directly with any brands however The Daily Splice has only just taken off. I'm already working on larger one-off personal pieces and developing a process that will allow me to take commissions. I understand that taking commissions will require a different way of doing things -- I'll have to be able to plan ahead to a certain extent which rarely happens with my current process but I feel it's the next step and I want to focus on my development as an artist.
I was invited to submit work for the Brooklyn versus London collage art exhibition hosted by SomethingInTheAttic at the Carousel exhibition space in Marylebone. It was a great way to meet the established and up-and-coming talent in the field. It was a great success and I'm hoping to be part of the show if it's taken across the pond by the Brooklyn Collage Collective who accounted for half of the 14 featured artists.
What would be your ideal project?
I think a project like The Daily Splice would work well as a feature in a daily or weekly publication as an alternative to the easily digestible cartoons that appear in newspapers. I could use the previous day's cover as my source material to create something brand new and I think the audience would enjoy a modern refresh of the cartoons page. By contrast, I'd also like to work with a well known artist or photographer to boost my profile and have always dreamt of having a piece of work appear on the front of an album cover for a band.
In your bio, you said "I'm bombarded with free literature on a daily basis, a lot of which contains high quality printed material which has become the ideal source material for my work." Is there your way of recycling the ideas you see into something else?
I see my work as a way of recycling images but I don't believe I recycle ideas. I tend to take an element away from its intended place and drop it into my own unique concept almost as if it originated there.
Text Lynette Nylander
Images courtesy Adam Hale/The Daily Splice