Often I refer in posts to one or the other of my few rules, so I'm posting them here together for reference.
- Nothing's precious ... When I privilege one scrap of paper over another, organizing the composition around it, the whole tends to go awry. For this reason, I tend not to use materials that have sentimental value for me. Note I am not claiming to believe that there is nothing in the world too precious to tear to pieces for the sake of art.
- Go fast ... I have a higher rate of success producing interesting work when I move fast rather than deliberate over how best to use this or that bit. This means I take pieces apart occasionally to reuse materials, or rearrange them.
- Don't think ... William Carlos Williams said, "No ideas but in things." In context, this dictum refers to ideology trumping imagery in poetry, but it's stood me pretty well as a rule of thumb in my art, too. When I leave deliberate intention out of it, and work in the most focused manner I can manage, engaging with the materials themselves, I consistently get better results.
- No reproductions ... Many companies reproduce vintage materials. I don't use them. All of my collages are made from original source material.
- No tricks ... The digital aspect of my process is confined to making the scan look as much like the original, and as much like paper, as possible. I don't digitally enhance any of my collages, and I don't add elements or delete them. If a collage isn't working as a scan, I may take it apart and rescan it, but I don't digitally reassemble them.