the stuff we’re made of

Skcollage I’ve always loved this idea: making a fiction collage of each character, complete with the actor prototype in mind. I’m doing it now for the television version of Straight Up and Dirty. I love this exercise, to know the contents of each character’s desk drawer, nightstand, or handbag. To create a mood board, or inspiration board, to see visuals, to know of all the chairs in the world, the one they’d pick would look like this, that on a menu, they’d order that. I love the details and quirks, seeing each of their obsessions. Where they hope to travel next, their favorite accessory, a photo of their dog. It’s what makes us who we are, all this stuff, or even the lack of stuff. I’m including the real photo of each person, along with an actor prototype, their interior design choices, obsessions, imperfections, things that help define them. Getting their quirks in. It’s so much fun. I’ll post my own collage later. But in the meanwhile, if you had to create a collage of objects and pictures that told someone who you were and what you liked, what would be tacked up on your collage? What are the telling little details?



  1. photos of my parents , my husband, my dog, stacks of classic novels and philosophy books, playbills and programs, a giant kitchenaid mixer, pointe shoes, central park, the majority of the IKEA catalog, a ridiculous assortment of Essie nailpolish, a fabulous handbag full of pens, highlighters a planner and a calculator (to show my fab on the outside/geek on the inside qualities… and because that really is what's in my fabulous oversize satchel). Oh, and if I were actually putting it together, it would probably turn out less like a fun, creative, interesting looking collage and more like a very orderly checkerboard of photos, because that's just how my brain works: left to right, top to bottom.

  2. My collage would have some art by Charles Rennie McIntosh, some travel photos of some lush scenery taken on the Cabot Trail or Isle of Skye. Art deco vases, lime green flowers, my 2 whippets that are long gone. These, in a collage would tell a bit about me. Did I leave out a lucious picture of a slice of lemon pie? I loved the pics of you & the family having so much fun. Abigail in pig-tails! too cute.

  3. How ironic that you asked this because I've been wrestling with this exact issue in my own life right now. I am so sick of clutter and STUFF that I want to simplify my life. I have gone so far as to take everything down off of my walls and shelves only to put them back up after a day or two. You see, I am realizing that all of the STUFF that is me is really who I am whether I like it or not. While I would welcome a clutter free existence it is not who I am at this point in time. If I had to create a collage of ME I suppose I would include the following: a qwerty keypad, a stack of books, a litter box, a calendar, an overstuffed purse/bag, concealer, wine, dear friends, a twisted umbilical cord, and fog-colored glasses from which I am viewing my existence!

  4. My collage: a block of feta, passport, my Bichon + her well-used pink checkered leash, a houndstooth fabric swatch, facebook log-in page, texting keyboard from my phone, diet coke, wine glass, patent leather pumps, Burts Bees honey chap stick, and some concert ticket stubs.

  5. That sounds like so much fun! This reminds me of my grade school years. I would create collages for every single one of my Barbies (AND their imaginary families). I knew what they drove, what home they lived in, what furniture they had, what dog they had, what they did for a living, even how they met their spouse. Such a fun creative outlet!

  6. My DSLR, concert tix, photos of my nephew, my Macbook and Blackberry, the Bible, passport, coffee mug, my girlfriends and me laughing together, a stylish but cozy living room, delicious cookies and a personal library with everything from a first edition of Atlass Shrugged to the complete Calvin & Hobbes collection.

  7. my favorite ice cream, the boy who let me down when I was 15, the items on my night stand, my favorite season is fall, the poster of "the way we were" and "the ice storm", the music I danced to when I was 18, a picture of you and me when we met in January 2001 (but we actually never took one), my first car, a map of the subway since I didn't own a car.

  8. I decided to pass on participating in this discussion since I tend to expose too much of myself as is, but I just wanted to say I'm glad you included Linus in your collage. How is the old man?

  9. Yes, how is Linus?

    FROM STEPHANIE: He's mellowed out a bit. Lea and I speak at least every other day now. She's in Montana with him, and she says he's getting old. He had to have a tooth pulled, his face is all white, and he's getting more spots. The other day her best friend's daughters slept over. They were told NEVER to kiss him or go to him. If he comes to them, it's a special treat, but they can't seek him out. They ignored him, so he of course climbed into their laps and curled up into a bean, sleeping with them through the night. I miss his little pink body, his bald spot on his belly, but he gets lovin' from Lea around the clock, and no one is trying to steal his toys.

  10. I take it this collage is "Stephanie circa 2004"? Not really you anymore but your character in the show, I guess, judging by the empty ring finger, Linus and the absence of Phil and the tots.

    FROM SK: Correct. I also didn't included tuna tar tar towers or things cooking related because I ate out a lot on dates and didn't own a kitchen or dining room table.

  11. So sad when our beloved pets age so quickly. Though as my vet once pointed out, if they had human life spans, they probably wouldn't exist as pets.

    Regarding a collage, all I can focus on when I come here is the wurstfest title. I'm familiar with Apple Festivals and Harvest Festivals, etc. etc., but a festival celebrating wurst? Or as I prefer to think of it: SNAUSAGES!! So, yeah, my collage would be all meat products in casings, all the time. And a maybe one image of my kid and a cat or 2. But only on the periphery.

  12. I love this exercise. You've inspired me to pick my fiction back up, or pull it out, rather. My main character would have scull art, incense, a Yorkie, a chloe bag, a trampoline, and a whip.

    In turn, I would have none of those things. Spanx, some Target handbag, stuart weitzman rhinestone shoes, my cats, knitting needles (I hate the cliche of it), a picture of a big ass, and a designer umbrella cause I'm all about being chic when everyone else is pretty much guaranteed to look like shit.

  13. I liked this post because I'm a fan of collages and collage-making. The idea of a prototype collage for fictional characters is so fun! I might try that sometime, just for fun.

    I know you didn't ask for it, so feel free to ignore, but can I offer my 2 cents on your "Stephanie" collage? While there are a few elements that are insightful for the viewer (the perfume and scarf are clearly elements that define this character and her style), the bulk of it is just plain pictures of yourself. Your post describes nicely what a collage should do – create a mood, an inspiration, give a glimpse into the nuances and small details that make a person or a character who they are. For the most part, all I see about the character is what she looks like. Or perhaps what kinds of clothes she wears. Even a photo of just the martini (instead of Stephanie-and-the-martini) or just the cleavage (instead of Stephanie-and-her-cleavage) would be more interesting and less distracting. I think if you're trying to define a character, including multiple, face-on photos is a bit too literal to be meaningful.

    FROM STEPHANIE: I agree. Still working on it. If you click it, you'll notice it's changing as I find more things that will help define "her." There's now a scale, her favorite artist, working on her personalized stationery. Because after my divorce, I was all about changing my name and getting my own (not his and hers) stationery.

  14. Hi
    I didn't want to say anything, but since amanda b did…I totally agree. Your collage about you is mostly…you. The person. I don't get it. It's just all pictures of you and very very little on what makes you, you.
    I think it would be great if you made one that fits your description of what the collage is.

  15. Stephanie-
    This is really random, but where did you get the initial necklace pictured in the collage. I have been looking for it everywhere, and have been unsuccessful in finding it. Thanks so much!

  16. Greta, a great place to get all kinds of things like that, handmade by awesome out-of-home artists is
    I have two initial necklaces and some handstamped jewelry that I love and always get compliments on. There are SO many sellers on there that you can look through, it's endless!

  17. Vintage gilt mirror, red lipstick, picture of me with all my sisters, cast iron horse figurine, USO sticker, chocolate chip cooky, a tall, tall stack of books, a few programs from various ballets and operas, a pair of Delman's.

  18. Great question. When I first read this, I thought about the obvious: pictures of my loved ones and my dog, maps from all the places I've been, pictures of the movies and books that have had the most influence on me.

    The more time I had to think about it, however, the more I realized that I only wanted one thing on my collage: the piece of paper from my doctor informing me that I was officially cancer-free. That was the day I started to really discover what I was made of.

  19. This is one of my favorite activities. It's very therapeutic and relaxing. I don't have a mood board but I do have a mood book. It's filled with journal entries, personal photos, magazine cut outs and more. You really learn who you are and where you have come from through this. I would recommend for all ages!

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