Interview: Michelle Thompson

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

I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1996. As well as illustration I also exhibit my collage work at the Affordable and London Art Fairs. Illustration clients have included The Royal Mail, Vaughan Oliver, BBC, The Globe & Mail, Design Week, Time Out, The Boston Globe and many more.

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

I’ve just finished a poster for The Chickenshed Theatre, the brief included working with photographs of Dianas family. Working with other peoples images can be challenging, it becomes more like a puzzle that I have to put together and make work.

For my personal work I’m currently working on an image inspired by The Tour De France, which will be coming through our town in July. Here’s a sneaky peak of work in progress.

What kind of things do influence your work?

I love old pieces of paper and found images., we have some great charity and antique/junk shops where I live. When I’m looking for inspiration I’ll go shopping.

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)

I’ve been collecting different textured papers, old magazines and photos for about 20 years. When I get a commissioned brief I sit down and go through all my boxes, looking for elements that could work. Sometimes I know what I’m after but I’m afraid my organisation is shocking so it can take a while to find what I’m looking for!

For my own personal, collage pieces the starting point is often a found image or piece of paper. I love not having the constraints of a brief. Often an image is created just because I like the way two pieces look together. It’s nice to be able to decide that the piece is done, no need for changes or to add more elements.

All the scraps go back in the box.

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

I have to confess that I don’t really keep up with what is happening in the collage world, although I do love the simplicity of Anthony Zinonos work. I would advise collage artists not to look at other collage artists and seek their inspiration outside of the genre, to keep their work fresh. I always regret not pushing my drawing skills too, it’s good to try out different processes and then find ways to include them into your work.

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

I have two boys August 9 and Felix 7 so if I’m not working, I’m a taxi driver, taking them to all their various after school clubs! Life can be a bit manic at times. We have a dog too, so I like to get out on a dog walk and take a break. I try to run twice a week… doesn’t usually happen!

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

I would ask John if he preferred to work with scissors or a scalple. 🙂