Aprile Elcich is a collage artist & graphic designer from Toronto, currently based in Philadelphia, PA. She runs a beautiful blog about collage called Not Paper. Not Paper is now an extensive collection of interviews with international collage artists.
I thought I would turn the tables and ask Aprile a few questions about the blog and her own work. (For anyone interested in collage… Aprile was recently featured in a great new book called Cutting Edges.)
What is the goal/intent of the blog?
Not Paper is a collage artist showcase—a curated selection of each artist’s work is included with a little interview and back story to their work.
I first chose to blog about collage because it was something that I did in my spare time and it interested me. I also found a wealth of collagists online and I realized that there was no place where they all came together. I wanted to create a kind of network of these collage artists that were scattered all over the web. I am always open to promoting the artists I feature, because that’s what the blog is for! I wanted to bring it to the forefront. And now as collage is becoming more “mainstream,” Not Paper is even more relevant.
Where did the name ‘Not Paper’ come from?
Kind of a weird explanation for this one, it came out of the blue and it’s a bit of a pun. I really like the tactile nature of paper, which is something the internet is not. So I came up with Not Paper (ie the internet is not paper). Stranger still, the original Not Paper was not about paper at all… So the nature of the name became quirkier over time.
What is it that you love about paper?
Paper is just so nice. I am one of those people who will buy a book just for the paper, I will spend hours finding the perfect paper weight and colour for my design projects, and even more hours finding the perfect piece of ephemera for my art projects. Also, doesn’t it smell wonderful?
What kind of paper do you use in your own work? What is your process?
For my collages, I like to use fragile old book paper, of which I have a pretty big collection. My process begins with pulling out pieces of paper—whether it be leafing through the pages of a book, or picking them out of a drawer. Then I try to imagine what story I could tell by combining those images, words, and textures. Often I go back in the drawer for more when I have a clear idea.
When did you start working in collage and how has your work progressed?
I started working with collage at the end of high school, for a final project in my art class. It was actually a painting that used collage as well. Then later I started to assemble a scrapbook using just paper, which I still have and cherish. It shows a progression of my thoughts and ideas through the years, and I wish I still kept a scrapbook now. (Now for some reason I always work on loose sheets of paper, in case it turns out really well and I want to frame it!)
What do you look for when considering featured artists on Not Paper?
I have been doing Not Paper for almost 3 and a half years now, and the process of choosing artists has become quite simple for me. Not only do I get submissions from all over the world (in the beginning I used to have to hunt them down), but there is a knack to it. I can tell within a few seconds, or looking at 2 or 3 pieces of work, whether I can see them on Not Paper. I look for a strong design sensibility and avoid things that are too crafty—though I love the craft side of things, there is such a big market for that and mine is a very specific niche. I look for materials or combinations that are unique, interesting messages or stories. Really I look for what every blogger looks for—something fresh, interesting, and well executed!
Who are your favourite collage artists/who’s work do you admire?
That list is endless, and I don’t know that I can pick favorites! I’ll mention a few that I am fond of: Valerie Roybal makes the most amazing pieces with random shapes and slices, Mark Searcy knows geometry, Mary Emma Hawthorne’s collages are so perfect in their imperfectness, Matthew Partridge makes the best shapes with paper (that look like sort of like US states), Emily Haasch emits the retro vibe so well, Dani Sanchis’ black white (and brownish) collages always appeal to me. Seriously, the list is endless!
(All images by Aprile Elcich)