Bedelgeuse is a collage artist living and working in Phoenix, Arizona. Working with old anatomical and botanical illustrations that are available in the public domain, he splices and glues, physically and digitally, to create artistic diagrams bursting with colour and texture. A perfect art feature for the month of May and a welcome injection of […]

Bedelgeuse is a collage artist living and working in Phoenix, Arizona. Working with old anatomical and botanical illustrations that are available in the public domain, he splices and glues, physically and digitally, to create artistic diagrams bursting with colour and texture. A perfect art feature for the month of May and a welcome injection of nature and natural themes onto these pages.

How did you get started with collage work?
Back in 2009 I happened upon some old black and white anatomical etchings. Intrigued by the aesthetic, I found other botanical and zoological illustrations done during the same time period. Then came the idea to combine them into collage.

How do you go about creating a new piece? How do you source your materials?
When I do cut paper collage I print out a bunch of illustrations and just start cutting. I usually start with a body part, then end up with a pile of scraps of different flowers, bugs and other elements. I find all my source material from old anatomical, science and botanical books that have been scanned by various libraries and educational institutes and are available in the public domain.

Do you do any digital work or is it all physical cutting and pasting?
It is a combination of both. I have been working in digital more recently. Sometimes physical cut-outs are rescanned to use for digital work. When I’m strictly digital I take the images I’m using and remove the backgrounds. From there I can play around with sizing and copy and paste the elements I want to repeat.

When I do cut paper I go through a lot of blades. I like to keep the cuts neat but I am not a perfectionist, which I think lends to the collage feel of the end result. The process while I’m working feels natural. Elements just go where they want to be. I’m just there to place, repeat and resize.

Give us an idea of the scale of your work. How big are the largest and smallest pieces?
My work ranges in size from five inches to over six feet. My most recent work uses a life-size 3D anatomical chart of the human body.

What inspires you to create and what themes are you exploring in your art?
When I create a collage I am expressing certain emotions I’m feeling at the time. Honestly, the collages are a mix of feelings I’ve gone through from being heartbroken. When I make a piece I am releasing that emotion. If it is a negative emotion then I am letting it go into the work so I am no longer holding it in.

How has your technique and approach changed over the years?
When I first started out I was using only black and white illustrations and doing cut paper. Once I sourced some high-quality color images I then moved into digital, which allowed me to make collages faster and make some of my work more accessible to those who couldn’t get originals. I’ve been working in 3D space as well, using anatomical charts and anatomy pop-up books as my materials. Currently I’m sourcing some anatomical science models to use as a base for collage sculpture, so I can bring this concept into a physical reality.

Who are your favourite artists, alive or dead?
Salvador Dali, Francisco Goya, Antoni Gaudi, Andy Goldsworthy, Hunter Stabler, Kako Ueda, Geraldine Georges, Christopher Marley, Mike Egan, Kate MacDowell, Monsieur Qui, Mark Wagner, Carnovsky, Damien Blottiere, Skinner, Yoksay Yamamoto… I really could keep going with this list and I didn’t even mention musicians.

What are you working on at the moment?
I just wrapped up a couple of local shows in Arizona and upcoming is a collaboration with Rooms, Japan’s largest fashion trade show held in Tokyo. Currently I am doing visual art design for the event and preparing for my largest exhibition to take place this September.

Good advice you wish you’d been told earlier?
Here is some advice no one ever really told me or emphasized: Take care of your body and it will take care of you. Stay active, eat clean, get proper rest and you will experience a positive transformation that is both internal and external.

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Sam Walby.