After a day spent rearranging letters and shapes onscreen, striving towards some semblance of unity and balance, staring at something for too long usually means you lose all sense of what a good composition actually looks and feels like. In times like these it’s best to go back to basics, to the simplest, most stripped-down form of whatever it is you’re working on. Even as a writer, I often get my scissors out and chop up one or two sentences, rearranging them on my desk as I try to find the shape of story.
The collages by Alma Charry might well be the visual equivalent to my writing exercise; they’re an experiment in rearranging simple, abstract forms to create beautifully balanced pieces. The French artist also works as an illustrator and graphic designer for clients in the art world, and her collage work naturally bleeds into her commercial projects (and visa versa).
“There has always been a dialogue between them,” Charry remarks. “The aesthetic of my commercial work comes directly from my personal drawings, and my commercial work helps me better my technique.”
Charry creates collages depending on what “feels right,” arranging colorful paper she finds at a local art shop in the ninth arrondissement of Paris (she flocks to their fantastic end-of-year clearance, where she finds most of her most unusual paper stocks). “It’s a practice of instantaneity, a process where you have to make a lot of clear-cut decisions about color and composition,” she says. “It’s about preserving a sense of harmony in complexity, balance in chaos, etc.”
Dealing with such abstract shapes—and creating something that’s removed from the pressure of a commission—allows Charry to concentrate purely on aesthetic harmony. When a commercial job comes through, she can then apply what she’s learned from “free” collaging, applying that same sense of abstraction and balance.
So take heed from Charry. Next time you’re stuck arranging and rearranging shapes on your computer screen, pull out some bright paper and dive into something completely separate from your current assignment. Don’t overthink it and forget out perfect, just keep going until you’ve created a composition that feels at peace on the page; its simple aesthetic beauty might just infuse into your other work as well.