Master retro collage illustration

Sammy Slabbinck’s 

love of the found

Sammy Slabbinck has always been attracted to the graphics and imagery of the 1950s to 1970s. “I have been collecting vintage magazines and books for a long time now – even before I started cutting them up.”

Collage offers “complete freedom”, he explains. “You can combine found elements endlessly, old and new, and make up a whole new imaginary world.”

Sammy’s images teem with surreal touches: smoking antelopes or suburban housewives served up on a platter. Recently he has been honing his style, although he adds: “I never really aim to get a certain look – it comes naturally. I love muted tones and the contrast between black and white and colour photographs.”

Of course, collage relies on good source images – and Sammy has assembled his own database of stock images. “You look for quality pictures, of course, but also the possibilities they create. So when you combine elements they have to reinforce one another to create something new – always a magic moment,” he argues.

Cutting out the images is a painstaking process. “I put a lot of care in doing so – one small detail can ruin a picture. After that I adjust the colours and the size, so when you combine images they interact naturally.”

Structuring the image is “the hardest part of all,” Sammy explains. “Of course, some compositions always work, but I try not to repeat myself too much, and try to find new ways to create a balance between different elements. There’s no fixed strategy – it all boils down to gut feeling. A sort of complex ‘simplicity’ is usually what I aim for.”

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