Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Urgent 2nd Class

Yesterday the strangest thing happened to me: I was in a bookstore searching for a new art book (totally realizing that the last thing I need is a new art book), and when I opened a how-to on watercolor techniques, there was a letter inside. A hand-written, angsty "I-don't-mean-to-be-passive-aggressive-but-I really-hate-you-because-I-love-you" letter. Wow. It was written on lined notebook paper and made me feel like I was a character in a movie or a novel. All I could think about was: Who was supposed to receive this letter and why was it in this book? In a public space!

The part that was really strange to me, though, was that I had already planned to make today's post for "U" be a celebration of Urgent 2nd Class, Creatimg Curious Collage, Dubious Documents, and Other Art From Ephemera, by Nick Bantock, the creator of the Griffin & Sabine series of books. If you are a Bantock fan, you'll immediately recognize the significance of finding a letter in a book. If you don't know Bantock's work--run, don't walk to the bookstore and get yourself a copy of Griffin & Sabine, an Extraordinary Correspondence right now--skip reading this post, just go!

In my opinion, Nick Bantock is the foremost mixed media and collage artist/author ever. The End. I have admired (and envied) his work most of my adult life, and taking one of his workshops is so on my bucket list I get dizzy just thinking about it. Fortunately, I have a way to stay sort-of sane while I'm waiting because Urgent 2nd Class is one of my all-time keepers. The book is full of Bantock's artwork, and better yet, great ideas and tips on how he does it. Not only is the book beautiful, it's genuinely useful.

Bantock is the reason I first became interested in making collages of my own. I've often mentioned in the past how important magazine cut-outs have been to both my artwork and writing, but to get that real "fine art" kind of effect, magazine pics can sometimes be too "slick" or commercial-looking. 

Bantock uses all kinds of strange and interesting materials in his work, much of it found from combing through vintage shops and yard sales. My own collection of collage materials is rather paltry in comparison, and one of the things I'd like to do this summer is start creating a better selection of items. To get started, I brainstormed a list:
  • Used costume jewelry: pins, beads, chains.
  • Old jigsaw puzzles--doesn't matter if pieces are missing. All the better if they are.
  • Vintage postcards, travel brochures.
  • Vintage greeting cards.
  • Vintage theater programs and tickets.
  • Stamps. International, used, pretty, weird . . .
  • Buttons, laces, and fabric trims. Preferably used.
  • Old books in bad condition (so I can tear them up with a clear conscience).
  • Vintage menus, paper placemats.
  • Doilies, both fabric and paper (good for making imprints and texture in paint).
  • Wallpaper scraps.
  • Really bad condition wall-art prints and posters (again for tearing up).
I have a feeling that searching for these items is going to be just as much fun as finding ways to use them. Let me know if you're planning to hold a yard sale any time soon!


Anonymous said...

Wow, great story finding that letter in the book! Imagination just starts to run amok with it, doesn't it? :)

Valerie Storey said...

Thanks for visiting, Andrea! Yes, my imagination really does want to go with that letter-in-a-book. And that's what really scares me--more new ideas. I'm terrified of new ideas, LOL--must stick with the current WIP and no distractions. (She said, thinking about the letter-in-a-book. . . )