Iâ€™ve always loved art, and I have a particular soft spot for the bright color combinations and layering of collages. Making collages and poster boards, compiling images of the places Iâ€™ve been to or decorating photos with my family and friends, is one of my favorite hobbies. But this past year, in quarantine, when I no longer had new photos and found myself within the same four walls every day, I began to turn to audiobooks to transport me to the places I couldnâ€™t physically travel to anymore, to connect me even in isolation to the characters of my favorite novels. And instead of drawing from my own life experiences to make art, I began to make collages inspired by the books I was listening to. Before, Iâ€™d never really picked up the habit of listening to audiobooks because Iâ€™d always miss feeling the paper between my fingers and seeing the shape of the words on the page. It felt like I couldnâ€™t quite hold onto a book if I was only listening to it.
But in making collages while listening to audiobooks, I felt like I was translating the aural experience of audiobooks into a visual and tactile one—transforming my favorite characterâ€™s hoot of laughter into a streak of bright orange, or perhaps digging through a pile of magazines to find just the right landscape to match the bookâ€™s setting. There was something uniquely calming about hearing the ebbs and flows of a narratorâ€™s voice in my ears, interspersed with the crisp snips of my scissors and the smooth glide of my glue stick on the paper. To me, making collages became a concrete way for me to interpret and reflect on a book, of laying out my thoughts in colors, shapes, and images and immersing myself more deeply in the world of the author.
This is a collage I made while listening to Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson. It’s a portrait of Lucille, the character who fascinated me the most and whose psyche I wanted to explore through images. Making this collage allowed me to reflect on her character and her role within the novel (while also finding some pretty cool images to stitch together)!
A couple of my other all-time favorite listens include: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book One: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, about a hilarious djinni who takes on a fantasy London brimming with magic, and Becoming, Michelle Obama’s incredible story, which she narrates.
Much like the pandemic has slowed down the pace of life for so many of us in this past year, Iâ€™ve found that listening to audiobooks and collaging helps me to remain present in the moment, to linger just a bit longer in the magic of the book Iâ€™m listening to. So next time you listen to an audiobook, try your hand at collaging—all you really need are a pair of scissors, a glue stick, and some old magazines or photos!
For some artistic inspiration at the intersection of art and books, I recommend checking out 10 Art Works Inspired by Great Literature and 5 Art and Design Projects Inspired by Literary Classics. And if you donâ€™t have any old newspapers or magazines that are collage-worthy, not to worry! Here are a couple affordable books with collections of images for making dynamic collages: Extraordinary Things to Cut Out and Collage and Cut and Collage: A Treasury of Bizarre and Beautiful Images for Collage and Mixed Media Artists. And finally, if youâ€™re looking to elevate your collage-making game, Mod Podge is a great crafting adhesive that dries clear, and X-ACTO knives are perfect for cutting out those tiny details in images.
Looking for more craft and audio pairings? Check out our Listen and Craft series.