Interview: Brandi Strickland

1. Please, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you.

My name is Brandi Strickland. I live in Floyd, Virginia with my husband, our pup, and a few yardbirds. I’ve been making collages over half of my life—15 years or so. I have a web shop called Paper Whistle, and I’m a member of the WAFA Collective.

2. Recent, current or future projects you are involved in that you would like to share with us?

My work was published in the 2013 Gestalten book, The Age of Collage. It is an honor to be included in that group.

I’m working with digital collage for the first time, slowly but surely teaching myself photoshop. I like how the digital manipulations feed back into and influence my hand made work. I’ve also tried printing poster sized enlargements of small clipped materials. All the nuances of vintage print look beautiful enlarged.

3. What kind of things do influence your work?

Everything I’m interested in and all of my experiences. It’s difficult to say for sure. My current interests are cooking, gardening, plant healing, and folk art.

4. How is your normal process of collaging? (idea or commission, where do you get your materials or find your images, which is your cutting technique, best way you have found to paste, where do you work and how, and very important: what do you do with your scraps)

My collage material comes from all sorts of books and magazines, most obtained second-hand from thrift shops, friends, and craigslist. For cutting I use xacto knives and scissors. My adhesives of choice are matte gel medium for my mixed media work and uhu glue sticks for collages on paper.

It’s nice to work on a few things at once and to be able to get a view of lots of clippings and materials. I run though many compositions before I commit anything with glue, and this takes up space. When I’m really inspired my workspace fills the whole floor and every table, things spread everywhere. I work in my home studio (spare bedroom) and sometimes in the living room.

I save the scraps! My interests change quickly so an image I wouldn’t have given a second thought to a few years ago is prime pickings today. The little teeny tiny bits — I like gluing a bunch of them down with gel medium to create a sort of patterned paper, then I’ll cut shapes out of it or use it in sheets later.

5. What is your latest discovery in the collage world? What advice can you give to a collage beginner?

Ku Shu Lan (Aunt Ku), a folk artist from China who practiced paper cutting. She received visions of a paper cutting goddess who she recognized as herself. She included self-portraits as the paper cutting goddess in much of her work, and eventually all the walls of her home were covered with beautiful paper cuts. I’m always touched when any sort of artist recognizes and honors the spiritual element of their work. I think we are all channeling source, that the work we create comes through us (as unique vessels and filters) and isn’t necessarily our own.

To collage beginners: When I graduated college one of my professors gave me an old, loved copy of The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. It is full of wisdom. Maybe Henri could encourage you, too: “Don’t worry about your originality. You couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to. It will stick with you and show up for better or worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do.”

6. What do say your friends/family about your collage work? And, what do you do when you are not working on art?

Everyone is supportive, though I don’t know in detail what most of them think. Besides art, I love living out in the country, cooking, gardening, and hosting family & friends.

7. Would you like to ask anything to John Baldessari? Shoot.

I totally clammed up, no idea. Maybe, “May I shake your hand, Mr. Baldessari?”