Collaging with Ian Farrell

Ian Farrell mixes together striking images to create one-of-a-kind collages. By pulling from vintage imagery and focusing many of his pieces on the presence of strong female figures, Ian succeeds at crafting well-balanced compositions that offer a whimsical sense of magic and color. We were lucky enough to chat with him about what inspires his work and creative process.

How do you go about making your collages? Are they created on the computer, by hand, or a combination of both?

Typically when I work, I go through either online archives or specific google searches for the actual parts of my work. All of the work I've done to date has been digitally created, but I've sometimes gone through old magazines or books and used scanned in images for my pieces as well. 

What inspires you to take pictures and imagery that others have captured and mix these different pieces together in a new pattern or composition? Are there certain elements of collaging that you find to be the most fulfilling?

I think the biggest takeaway for me when it comes to collaging is that it basically becomes a visual retelling of a past narrative or idea. There's an aspect of it that becomes recycling to some degree, but more importantly being able to mold an entirely new perspective from visual fragments that give their own visual resonance is what really drives me to keep collaging. A lot of it kind of feels like you're collaborating with the individual elements you're using and making sure all the players essentially get along, which I think is another really wonderful aspect of the whole process. 

Your work seems to include a lot of retro and vintage imagery, what about this older style appeals to you?

I work a lot off of nostalgia and sentiment, and I think using imagery that physically looks dated is more in tune with that to put it simply. I think there's something really exciting about working with imagery that has such a history, whether that be known or unknown. I also grew up in a household that was pretty saturated with vintage and antiquey aesthetics, which contributes a lot to the type of imagery I pull. 

Many of your collages feature women or a strong female presence. Is this done purposefully for any specific reason? Or do you just find yourself drawn to placing women in your collages because it's aesthetically pleasing?

I think it's more out of comfort than anything to be honest. I grew up in a pretty female-centric environment, so it just makes a bit more sense for me to gravitate towards incorporating more feminine ideals into my work. While I know there's a lot of ground to explore other areas and to possibly navigate a bit away from so much feminine imagery, it's an approach that I'm used to and that has my surefire devotion. 

How did you get into collaging in the first place? Where do you pull inspiration from when making a piece? Does anything in particular from your life or travels directly influence your collage-making process?

My start with collage was a bit of a fluke actually. I went to school for photography, but closer to the end of my time there I was really unsatisfied with the work I was doing. I was enrolled in a few classes that were a bit more focused on multimedia and it just kind of sprung up on me as one of my class projects, and from that point on I was pretty much sold. I get a lot of inspiration from my family actually. My mother and my grandmother have a very similar decorating style, which basically involves amassing and displaying as many trinkets and antiques as possible. I was very much used to seeing dusty figurines from my mother's childhood mixed with Chinese guardian lion statues, wooden elephants, ornate plates and pottery, you name it. It was a lot of random hodge podge that oddly worked together in a really fantastic way. I think in some aspect, the work I make is an extension of them and how they chose to visually surround themselves. On one hand I create work that is individual to me, but I'm also contributing to a familial, visual legacy that makes me really proud.


To see more of Ian's collages or to check out his gorgeous travel photography, follow him on Instagram.



Ian Farrell

Ian Farrell is a freelance collage artist and graphic designer living in San Francisco. He enjoys corduroy, sour beer, and getting out of the city.