Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Keeping a Collage Journal Based on Daily Newspaper Reading: Channeling Peter Jacobs

Peter Jacob's Daily Collage. From 12.07.210

What is a Collage Journal

Peter Jacobs, collage artist, has been creating a daily collage culled from images from that day's newspaper for seven years. Jacobs writes:
The Collage Journal is now in its seventh year. I produce a collage solely from the images and texts of that day’s newspaper. The Collage Journal's 2091+ collages reside in over 187 Strathmore books. I have thus-far used 46 cutting boards, 298 Exacto blades, and 212 glues-sticks. As consistent as the newspaper is printed, each day I sit down and construct/reconstruct my visual response and internal feelings in that morning’s collage. Like a written journal, a visual journal incorporates both personal and external experience. The Collage Journal extends the external experience to the world, having the palette of the newspaper’s dissection of stories and images. The newspapers also bring the world of advertising, which is somewhat surreal in their placement to their neighboring articles. I believe this juxtaposition creates a de-sensitizing and detachment in the reader/viewer to the gravity of the news. The Collage Journal has become integrated in my daily life as a meditation, contemplation and re-evaluation of culture and identity. I have not decided on an end date for this series. Quite possibly, the newspapers will stop production before The Collage Journal ends.

Creating a Collage Journal in Social Studies or Humanities Class

I wondered about this process, not only as an art expression, but also as a visual journal that might serve as a record of daily newspaper reading. How might creating a daily or weekly collage based on the reading from a single day's newspaper influence how one reads?  How might this practice over time deepen a person's knowledge about current events? What might happen if creating a daily or weekly collage was a standing choice assignment that was privileged work in social studies or humanities courses?  The materials needed are fairly minimal and although I would certainly recommend a lesson on how to use an X-acto knife--the rest is rather minimal.

I decided today to try out this idea. I read the New York Times with an eye to making a collage.  I was surprised that I read the paper differently as I found myself interested in examining how articles and advertisements from across sections collided, aligned, and might be juxtaposed.  Were there themes or terms that crossed sections and articles? I noticed four things as I read:
  • How the word global is used so often and in different contexts
  • How interest in and news about Iran stretched across several sections
  • That the word war showed up in advertisements and in the first section of the paper repeatedly
  • That the advertisements suggested a world that was less global and far more privileged.  
With that in mind I created my first entry in my new collage journal.

I made the collage in a Canson Mix Media journal (9" x 12" , 98 lb paper).  I used an X-acto pen (finest size) to cut the images I wanted from the newspaper and did so on top of a cutting mat.  I used an UHU clear glue stick (acid free) and some gesso. I then captured the collage with the Camera+ app (which I would recommend as a daily phone camera) on my iPhone.

Below is the completed collage I made based on reading the New York Times on 2.15.12. 

Collage Journal, Day 1 (2.15.12 by M.A. Reilly)


  1. Well done! I hope you have continued the daily process.

    Peter Jacobs

    1. Hi eter,
      Just saw this now. I have continued and started recently to keep a collage journal for 2014. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Hello Mary Ann,
    What a marvelous idea this is! Thank you for posting it. I am teaching a collage class right now, and today we are working with images created from text-based sources. This idea will resonate with my participants - all of whom are of the generation where reading a daily newspaper was paramount.
    Many thanks!
    Best wishes,
    Karen Fitzgerald

  3. love going back to this post! an excellent daily practice and especially enjoy with the bits and pieces how one might be able to transform the daily read into their take from what they highlight, excellent

    1. Always good to know Jolie. It is relaxing and satisfying. It also alters how I read the newspaper.


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