Splicing together the influences of Pablo Picasso, Peter Blake, and Stefan Sagmeister, Cut That Out is a superb new book exploring the impact of collage on graphic design. Combining three of our favorite things—collage, creative layouts, and a punning title—the book was put together by Ryan Doyle and Mark Edwards of design studio DR.ME.
I’ve long had a soft spot for the work of the Manchester-based agency. Its portfolio boasts a veritable cornucopia of beautiful designs for gig posters, alongside more straight-up branding projects, but where it really shines is in the non-commissioned work, most of which is collaged. In fact, the studio bravely undertook the challenge to create a new collage each day for 365 days, and boy did it pull it off.
It comes as little surprise then that this passion for cut ’n paste should manifest itself in such a comprehensive collection. What sparked Doyle’s love of the form? “My mum gave me a clip frame on my seventh birthday containing an assemblage of cut-out film photographs of me,” he says of his first collage encounter. “Collage’s appeal is often its seemingly accidental nature… you can make wonderfully surreal images with an infinite color palette available at your fingertips.”
The idea for Cut That Out was born around two years ago, when its UK publisher, Thames & Hudson, gently rejected DR.ME’s proposal to turn 365 Days of Collage into a monograph. “They said ‘You’re not famous enough for that, and you’re not dead,’” says Edwards. “But they said they liked our work and asked us if we’d like to pitch an idea around the subject.”
Both designers found the task of pulling together collage-based graphics fairly easy. “Since before we graduated we were both seeing people’s work in various places and making a note of them, so we already had a list of about 35 people before we started putting the book together,” Edwards explains. “We had a bit more digging to do, but a lot of the people in the book are heroes of ours.”
DR.ME wrote and designed the book, with an overarching aim to create an overview of collage that showed the breadth of the medium, and its creation through analog and digital means. While there are too many highlights to mention, the book’s creators were particularly happy to include work by Oslo-based agency Yokoland, sitting alongside less well-known practitioners like Dutch designer Louis Reith. “Louis’ work is super stripped-back and simple, but really beautiful,” says Edwards.
So what makes a great collage-based design? “I think it’s when something gives you a new perspective on an image,” says Edwards,“or it gives you a feeling of someone falling into a new universe. It’s a sense of vertigo, in a way.”