Where I Find My Images

(Revised from a 2012 post.)
I know that I've answered this question several times but it's one that I get asked repeatedly and I thought it was time for an update!

Where do I get my images?

I don't have one specific source. 

I've always recommended that folks scope out their local newsstand, used bookstore, bargain bookstore, etc... I like to scope out new magazines every few weeks while I go to used bookstores on a weekly basis. I'll look through different sections looking for things that catch my eye. I'll go through fashion, photography, new age, etc... I recommend if you're browsing in a bookstore to make a pile of things that catch your eye and then either go find a spot to sit in, hit the cafe for a drink and flip through each magazine making piles of "yes", "no" and "maybe". See what catches YOUR eye the most. 

I don't have any one favorite source. 

I also buy magazines for inspiration. Scope out thrift stores and library sales as well for good deals on magazines (and books.)

My favorite magazines for collage as of this writing are (in no particular order) are:


With the exception of Womankind, I do not read the magazines I am going to tear up (though if there is something that looks interesting, I may rip it out and save it for later.) I quickly flip through looking for emotion and something that sparks a thought, feeling or connection as I flip the pages. Sometimes I am looking for focal images while other times, it's color, pattern, shape or texture for background papers that catch my eye.

As I flip, I tend to rip out what I want and either put the rest in my class bag or recycle bin depending upon what is left. 

I do NOT like MOST fashion magazines but I will flip through unusual ones, European ones or new titles. I don't like magazines with imagery that is super sexed up, super skinny, dressed (or undressed) to the 9, etc... I like images that represent ME and how I feel. I tend to avoid anything that looks like it would strut down a runway. I like plain, simple, every day images. I also prefer to use images of women instead of men. It's not that I don't like imagery of men (does that sound right?!) but I want to use imagery that represents ME so if I use an image of a man and woman together, it's usually to represent my husband and I. 

I find a good deal of my collage imagery in books. My husband and I scour our favorite bookstores (I have a whole list here) for new treasures. I like to look in various sections: cheap ($1-10), new, Buddhism, Floral/Gardens, Art, Photography, Fashion, Various Countries, Design and Comics are my favorite sections to check out. I don't find something every week. I usually find something new that is a "must have" maybe once a month if I'm lucky. 
I rarely pay a lot for a book (or magazine) unless I find that it's chock full of stuff that I want. I'm not going to pay $15 for a book with one or two images in it. On average I spend anywhere from $1 to $15 for a book or magazine that I'm going to rip up. The more expensive it is, the more FULL of stuff it has to be (for either me or for my classes to use.)

I recommend that folks keep their eyes open for new imagery and to make time once a month (more or less is up to you) and to search out new magazines and inexpensive books. Tell friends and family what kind of images you are looking for to use and ask if maybe they'll set aside images or magazines for you as they read them (better yet show them the images you like and explain about keeping an art journal and working in collage.) 

Also look for free catalogs and city magazines in your travel. Most collage artists that I know always have their eyes open for paper and images.

Another trick of mine is that I rotate my collage stash (both imagery and background papers) when I get bored. I have my "now" bag  and a later bag of various materials.  When I get bored, I rotate out the old stuff for "new" stuff. It's like shopping in your living room and it works perfectly for me. 

I also tend to work exclusively from my "now" journal bag (pictured and described here.) I like limiting my choices of materials to what's in my on the go bag (even though I primarily work in my living room!) It keeps me from spending hours sorting through trying to find "the right thing." I generally tend to flip through my stuff very quickly and pull out the first few things that catch my eye. I've found that it works best for me.

I've been keeping a journal for some time now. I know what I like and what works for me. I've developed and built up what I call a visual vocabulary (more on that here.) I know what I'm drawn to and what works for me. The more you work in a journal, it'll start to click what works for you, too! I promise!

What are your favorites?

If you liked the above, you may also like this: 
Being Mindful: Curating Your Images


inkerdoodler said…
When I was waiting for an appointment in my hair salon, and waiting for a pedicure, the salons had stacks of magazines (also think doctor's offices). I asked what they do with the magazines when they are outdated, and they said they just toss them out. They are now saving them for me and I pick up a pile periodically! My "non-artist" friends also save magazines for me (home & garden and lifestyle magazines often have images that are great ephemera). Part of my process for "curating" images is to sort them by topic into baggies (e.g., doors and windows).

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