Fashionista Collage




I teach the Art of Collage to adults and teens at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY. I design art projects for all the classes and workshops. Many students want to learn  figure collage so I develop projects with that theme.

Students make collage with papers, explore color, design, add drawing, painting and mixed media.

I am a big fan of Pinterest and many of my art projects are inspired by images I pin on my Pinterest boards.

See the image below. I think it’s funky and would be a wonderful class project. I pinned the image on my figure collage Pinterest board.

This collage painting is by Giselle Potter. She’s a well-known illustrator-collagist. The work is untitled.


Giselle Potter, Untitled, collage painting

Giselle Potter, Untitled, collage painting

Look closely at the collage papers. She’s a frumpy female in black panties, pearls, a “Maidenform” bra and gloves sitting cross-legged on a red and white diamond patterned floor. This work is a drawing, painting and collage.

Notice her hands and old-lady shoes. See the red lipsticks on the pink and red diamond floor. Is that a package of birth-control pills nearby?


I wanted to create a funky female made with current fashion magazine papers, and looked through all my current issues of W, Vogue, Elle and Interview magazines. I looked online for females in a bra but none were sitting cross-legged on the floor.


What you see below is my funky “wild child” portrait collage. It’s all magazine papers on a 17”x14” Bristol paper substrate and it’s my interpretation of the world of fashion and our contemporary culture.


Nancy Nikkal, Wild Child, 2015, cut and pasted paper collage

Nancy Nikkal, Wild Child, 2015, cut and pasted paper collage


HOW TO: I cut several faces and torsos from Vogue and W magazines. I didn’t find a torso with a bra. I cut arms, hands, and feet from Interview and W magazines. You need a lot of choices as you work so it’s a good idea to collect many images in advance.

As I started the collage, I glued a torso over a background paper first, and then glued a face and neck over the torso. The background paper was still loose. I cut a bustier shape from black magazine paper, and pasted it down over the torso. I found arms that were the right size and facing in the right direction. I glued them down only at the shoulders and left the arms and hands free. The arms were a little long compared to the torso and head, but I like the idea of exaggeration.

I found patterned background papers in Artforum magazines – actually reproductions of abstract paintings, and they were large enough to fit under the collage figure.

I measured the substrate (bottom paper) at the start, and planned how I would piece all the papers together so they would fit. I knew the figure would fill the entire length of a 17” x 14” paper substrate.

I found the funky legs with high platform heels (see detail below). They were oversized and turned in the right direction. Notice I left a tiny margin around the legs and shoes when I cut the paper.


nikkal_640 wild child FEET


I added a mouth and eyes to change the collage face. See the image below. She has a new expression. All the colors, spirals and dots make the figure a little psychedelic. Her new eyes and mouth definitely have attitude.


nikkal_640_funky portrait face_Wild Child



Measure all collage papers in advance and make sure the figure will fit the size of your substrate. Plan if you will extend the collage papers beyond the edge of the background shape or the substrate.

Leave a tiny margin when cutting around each paper shape.


Select magazine papers so colors and patterns coordinate. Pay attention to contrast, darks & lights in every color group.


Modify the portrait with a new mouth, eyes, hands and/or hair. Make a statement with exaggeration and some distortion.


Be open to serendipity as papers move. Try to create a dynamic composition.


EXTRA: If you like Giselle Potter’s collage with seated figure in a bra and want to see more and read more about the artist, visit her website.

Potter graduated from RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), studied in Rome with the European Honors Program, is a published illustrator and book author (25 books). She lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Visit my Pinterest site and see more images to inspire your portrait collage art.