mt Meets Stephanie Hartman of Collage Club

mt Meets Stephanie Hartman of Collage Club

You studied illustration at Central St Martins and then went on to set up Collage Club in 2014. What prompted the move from illustration to collaging?

I knew pretty early on in my degree that I didn’t want to be an illustrator. When I graduated in 2012 I started working in events with brands like It’s Nice That and magCulture. I also worked with the Design Museum, first as a volunteer and then staying on freelance to curate and deliver creative workshops for the families and young people programmes. Taking on all of these different projects, I realised the common thread was being able to share exciting ideas, and the work of creatives with a wider audience.

Collage has been something I’ve done my entire life and I guess I also realised it was another thing I was able to share with people, without the outcome being my own artwork. I’m far more interested in providing a space for other people to make their own work and Collage Club is the perfect vehicle for that.

What is the best thing about collaging?

That it’s so accessible and you don’t need loads of expensive materials to get started. It’s easy to get lost in, creating imaginary worlds and unlikely compositions. The possibilities are endless!

The current climate is challenging businesses of all shapes and sizes. How has the pandemic affected your work and how have you had to adapt during these times?

My whole business relies on bringing people together so Covid really put a spanner in the works. I had workshops booked up until October but when lockdown was announced all my work evaporated within the space of a few hours. Years ago I’d experimented with selling collage paper packs and they’d been popular so I decided to bring them back so people could have the materials they needed to continue collaging at home. Each pack is pieced together by me in my studio and includes hand-painted paper, different stocks, stickers and shapes. They are a labour of love!

I also started running We Stick Together collage challenges over on Instagram, setting a different theme for people to respond to each week. The submissions were absolutely incredible and it was so heartwarming seeing the entries come in each week- it really felt like a community had been formed with everyone commenting on and liking each other’s collages.

I’ve been running online sessions for private clients, which I hope to roll out to the public, as well as creating videos and how-tos for simple projects to try at home. It has forced me to look at other ways to bring collage to people, and ultimately it’s opened up a much bigger audience.

Arts and creativity have helped to keep people sane during lockdown. What materials are required to create an amazing collage and what advice would you give to someone who wants to explore the world of cutting and sticking?

It has been such a lifeline for so many people during lockdown and I hope that’s not forgotten as it starts to lift. It can transform a mood! The beauty of collage is that so little is required. As long as you’ve got scissors or glue (or hands to rip with, some tape) you can have a go. Use the junk mail that comes through your door, nice textures from your recycling bin, the old magazines you’ve finally sorted through or some brightly coloured paper you’ve kept in a drawer. You could set yourself a theme if you’re unsure where to start, and don’t feel like you need to stick everything down straight away. Think of it like a puzzle and you’re finding the right place for all of your pieces.

What is the highlight of your career to date?

There have been so many! Last year I was given an amazing opportunity to run Collage Club workshops onboard Belle and Sebastian’s festival cruise, from Barcelona to Cagliari. It was pretty magical being able to sail across the sea, collaging with all of these people and then popping up to the pool deck to see bands play into the night. As well as workshops, I created a community artwork for people to add to during the festival and provided heaps of mt tape for them to make their mark with.

You regularly use mt in your workshops. When did you first discover our tape and how do you use it in your work/workshops?

I think I first came across it when I was working at the Design Museum and have had it in my collage kit ever since. I love that it’s so versatile- you can use it to form clean, geometric images or rip it and work with gorgeous torn edges for delicate results. I have it available at all my workshops, but also run sessions where the tape is the hero material and the main collaging tool.

Quick fire questions

Best advice you have ever been given?

Say yes to exciting opportunities and work out how to do them later.

Favourite Gallery or Museum?

The Barbican

Favourite City?

London! or Lisbon

If you could have dinner with three artists (past or present) who would they be?

Deborah Roberts, Henri Matisse and Hannah Höch

Discover more about Collage Club here: