Clever Collage: Tribute to the Masters of Surrealism


In this Tipster I will share with you the process of how to make relatively easy and fun collage works inspired by surreal paintings and poems. For this collage I was specifically inspired by the paintings of Rene Magritte.

Credits: mczoum

My passion for surreal art has started early while reading an Art book and grown later to become a passion specially since I have moved to Paris in 2000, the city of museums and love but also where this movement was born. My appetite for this kind of Art was satisfied by hundred of exhibitions attended since then, in seven European countries ! I assure you every exhibition of Miro/Dali/Ernst/Tanguy/Man Ray /DaDa Movement and many more was an intellectual orgasm to the 5 senses!

Making collages isn’t new to me, I have already done many works but they were all edited with digital softwares. The announcement of the Lomography collage rumble was the great opportunity to try my first analogue handmade collage work.

For this collage experiment I need you to visualize an image in your mind without hesitating to associate contradictory elements and concepts, to manipulate ordinary objects functions and shapes, to combine the metaphysical, the extraordinary and the material, to challenge the intellectual and visual preconceptions about reality and the familiar and provide them other meanings and purposes by juxtaposing them onto unusual contexts!
“Just because I don’t know the meaning of my art, does not mean it has no meaning”, Dali says. So don’t hesitate to overlap elements of fantasy within realistic details to alter the reality, break the rules of logic ! Let all what is enclosed in your everyday consciousness “explode” out of the subconscious part of your mind! Irrational, Paranoia, hallucination, symbolic, paradoxical and unconventional, keep these words in your mind!

For your collage, the tools you will need are:

  • Your selected photos printed (preferably not on thin paper)
  • Glue; Scissors
  • Any editing software for Apple/Computer/Ipad (Photoshop; Gimp )
  • Carbon Paper
  • Acrylic paint or liquid ink

Start by looking closer to the details of a painting you like. Personally, to be inspired, I focused on themes of which Magritte and other painters has frequently made reference to and elements and objects that have been repeated throughout his paintings.

The blue sky and white clouds are dominant in his paintings and gives an illusion of a multidimensional reality of time and space when looking through the flat surface of a canvas (among many others his paintings : L’entrée en scene; The seducer; Scheherazade) so I picked my best shot of clouds. Magritte’s imaginary personage of a Man wearing a suit and a nick tie in bowler hats with his face hidden by an apple; a pigeon ect.. has contributed to his international recognition (a self-portrait) (The Son of Man; The Man In the Bowler Hat).

So I cut the picture of the suit and sketched it on my clouds image to obtain the silhouette (of the upper body but could have choose an entire silhouette) similar to Magritte’s one in “High Society”. Be careful of the scales of your pieces before to glue and juxtapose them, put them first on a paper to see how they look and If you have done the cut right. I measured carefully each foreground image so that when I add the other images they will fit in the frame too. After sketching the silhouette I took a carbon paper to copy the suit to give the silhouette more details and draw again the lines with a black marker.

The hand and finger prints popped up to my mind as a proper image to illustrate the word “Incognito”. For this I painted my hand moderately (otherwise it might mess up the prints on the paper) with Acrylic paint and put it quickly on a thick white paper (no worries, acrylic could be easily washed out with water) and scan it after it was dry.

I thought to add on the top of the nails five ladybugs that looks like crawling and leaving traces behind! In my opinion, they add a touch of sarcasm to make the image funny.. Why not as so many humoristic representations could be found in the surreal works! The insects (ants , a fly, butterflies, cockroaches) reveal Dali’s obsession of the death, his artistic reference to the final state of existence, a reminder that our body isn’t eternal.

My background is a picture of a Wall bricks, as if this levitating silhouette can cross the physical obstacles, symbolized here by this wall, and not attached to the bottom of the image as if It is floating. I have printed out the photo and photocopied it twice in B&W and joined them to make one big wall. The more there is a contrast between the foreground and the background images the more it is better!

Finally, to make my collage looking better I have framed it on an Ipad with a free cool application called “Photo Frames”. And voila!

Remember this important notice for every collage you make: I have used Apple software and Ipad applications for editing. This first step is necessary to resize my different selected elements from my images to make this proportioned on harmonious scale, before the printing and cutting process to be able to assemble them later in one frame for the final collage.

Here is another quick collage, inspired by Dali’s portrait, my favorite painter ever. I have taken a shot of my grandma’s very old kitchen closet that has two symmetrical holes that look like two big eyes of a smiling face staring at you (before the invention of refrigerators it was useful to keep the air fresh inside!). I have sketched his famous mustaches on a black paper, cut it and glue it to the image. I added finally on the top a butterfly, an insect that is present in many of Dali’s paintings.

Credits: mczoum

Thank you for reading. I hope you have enjoyed my work and that you will try it by yourself ! Happy New Year and Lomo On!

written by mczoum on 2012-01-25 in #gear #tipster


  1. poochfan
    poochfan ·

    If there was an "I love this article" button, I would have pushed it.

  2. mczoum
    mczoum ·

    Here is a link for my collages series dedicated to Masters of Surrealism. More elaborate and designed works because executed in longest time than the few hours I have had for this one. I couldn't post them in the article because I have also used digital softwares. Thank you !…

  3. mczoum
    mczoum ·

    @poochfan Thanks a lot for taking time to read it and for your nice compliment, much appreciated !

    ps. My apologies for the English errors, It is my third spoken language that I don't practice much!:)

  4. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    Keep up the amazing work!! I'm a huge fan.

  5. rik041
    rik041 ·

    great idee.......thxs

  6. pranjiks
    pranjiks ·

    your' collages are great ! :) love this article. :)

  7. trw
    trw ·


  8. mczoum
    mczoum ·

    Thank you so much everyone, much appreciated !

  9. elenalux
    elenalux ·

    It's fascinating to read through your process step by step - a wonderful tutorial! Now if I could just make my mind work like yours ... :)

  10. mczoum
    mczoum ·

    Thank you so much !

  11. mapix
    mapix ·

    great collage-ideas and techniques!

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