Enjoy the boldly colorful “graphical collage” portfolio of mixed media artist Lynn Tsan and view more of her work on her website.
I never wanted to be an artist. I couldnât draw. I could sing. I could dance. I could write and talk a blue streak. For a while, though, I thought that sculpture might be interesting and tried art school for a few years. This was back in the âold daysâ (even worse than the ânowadaysâ) when it was okay for some to strongly suggest that sculpture was not for âgirls.â I was seventeen and took the hint. I dropped out. At some point, I dropped back in somewhere else, years later, and ended up with a masterâs degree in journalism, three kids, and then I was suddenly single.
Minneapolis was no haven for newbie journalists at the time, so I wrote copy for small businesses. Copywriting morphed into creating brochures, logos and such; eventually I backed up into art making again at the ripe old age of fifty.
I moved to Chicago four years laterâthe world of art, technology and newfound materials opened up. I discovered a makerspace in a tiny room in Chicagoâs downtown public library. It was free and fascinating! I learned how to operate a laser cutter and honed my computer skills to bring some of my graphical collage drawings to life.
A graphical collage is my term for a composite of an entire series of art. A finished piece might include anywhere from three to one hundred separate, unique pieces of artwork. They are usually made up of square shapes with one exceptionâa seven rectangle piece.
Each square can stand alone, but together they create a dynamic that can sometimes take up to a month of rearranging to realize.
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Layering and experimenting with materials has added depth and texture to the work, which, as of now, mostly consists of wood or cast acrylic pieces. A fabric piece is coming and I dream of my âChicagoâ piece reworked in glass, steel and light making the original 10â x 4â piece a tiny, little prototype.
I love patterns, but hate predictability. Because all of the pieces in a finished work are like those in a series, they share images, a color palette, shapes and style. Only two pieces seemed to require repeating squares: âRome is Burningâ and an older drawing called âMatch Gameâ (a 25-square piece with five matching pairsâdiffering only in color and orientation).
Someday, Iâd like to work with architects, designers and fabricators. The future, for me, is making art that fills entire wallsâart that is the wall, the floor, the ceiling. Art that is built into the architecture and made of materials that maybe havenât been invented yet.Â Itâs the thrill of discovering how things work and how far one can push them that keeps me going. Someday my biggest current work will be dwarfed by what comes next.
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