Paper Trumpets #20: The Student Sound


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The Student Sound



Notes on this collage:

  • The main ingredient of this collage is a compilation album cover for pop songs—or “the student sound”—that I found in a resale shop in Portland. The women in the boat reminded me of another collage I did recently. It’s funny to have this idea of “sequels” or related pieces in a practice like collage.
  • I’m not sure what the woman in yellow is alarmed by in the image’s original context (maybe being splashed by water or the fear of falling out of the boat) but I found it a good opportunity to surround her with flying (attacking?) fish and a leaping dolphin. The lizard on the right is a double-crested basilisk (which is often called the Jesus Christ lizard because it walks on water). The various fish are from a book called Hawaii’s Fishes: A Guide For Snorkelers, Divers, and Aquarists.
  • I was also drawn to the cover because of its mysterious Taiwanese symbols. In the upper right corner of the cover it says in English: Holy Hawk Record Co., LTD. I searched for info about this company and found out that it was “a label of doubtful legality” and that it catered to US soldiers stationed in Taiwan in the 60s and 70s. Covers were often photocopied from Japanese or US issues with altered colors. The songs on the record range from popular tunes like “Loves Me Like a Rock” by Paul Simon to lesser-known jams like “Stoned Out of My Mind” by Chi-Lites.
  • One of the things I like about collaging is that it’s pretty inexpensive to do. I spent more money than usual on this collage and it was still only about $15—$6 for the fish book, $5 for the record, $3 for the raspberry-color backing paper, and a couple of dollars for a high-res scan of the finished thing—because it’s too big for my scanner.
  • This is the 20th column of Paper Trumpets. To celebrate the occasion, I’ve secured original collages from some of my favorite collage artists and we’re giving them to you! Just leave a comment in the comments section and next Monday morning (March 9th) I’ll randomly pick ten winners. You’ll get an original collage and maybe other bonus gifts from the likes of Jay Riggio (who I talked up in the very first Paper Trumpets), Cory PeekeRachel EatonMichael Tunk, Zach Collins, and myself. It’s my way of saying, Thank you, dear reader!


In the Paper Trumpets spotlight is the incredible Zach Collins. The St. Paul, Minnesota artist seems to constantly churn out work that ranges from tan-hued abstracts to humorous vintage mash-ups. His work always has a lot of interesting aspects and is never predictable or obvious. Some of my favorite work of his has a refreshingly quick feel to it, like his small, minimal works and the manila envelopes he turns into slices of magical weirdness. Collins seems to turn everything he touches into something to marvel at. I asked him a few questions via email.

The Rumpus: How long have you been doing collage and how many collages have you made?

Zach Collins: I started making analog collages in September 2011. I would say I have made around 1500, including my personal work and collaborations.

Rumpus: You do a lot of collaborations. What is it you’re hoping for when you send a “starter” out to someone to finish?

Collins: I enjoy seeing how other artists react to my work and find it thrilling to be part of something I could not otherwise create on my own, even if that part is a small one.

I am interested in the deconstruction of presumed image associations and the visual meanings that the collaborative collage process enables. Personally, I find if refreshing to bring the focus of a work back to its formal elements.

Rumpus: You’ve published a book with Red Fox Press and your own book of your collaborations. Do you see books as a good medium for your work? What are some of your favorite books or books that have inspired you?

Collins: For me personally, I think producing books is a great way to document one’s work. Books are a vehicle to showcase the many collaborations I have been a part of. In a physical form, the artwork is now available to a wider audience. I enjoy the tactile nature of books. I would rather have a book sitting on my shelf to flip through and look at work I did 5 years ago than searching my external hard drive for the digital files.

A favorite book: Keith Haring: The Authorized Biography instantly comes to mind, with his compulsive work habits and the amount of work that he did in the short time he was with us.

Rumpus: What do you hope your collage work says that you might not be able to express in other artistic ways?

Collins: Working in this medium has opened my eyes to the environment around me. I now feel I am in a constant state of motion/movement. I am always in my studio—maybe not cutting or flipping thorough magazines, but searching, scanning, and ultimately interpreting my surroundings in a new way. In a way, it’s as if “my studio” is everywhere I go. I feel because of this I am more productive, aware, and creative.

Rumpus: What sort of environment do you collage in? Do you listen to music or have the TV on? Do you prefer a certain time of day for your work? 

Collins: At the moment I have an area set aside at home with several desks and tabletop space. I like to have my music playing while I work.  In the morning, after my coffee, is my favorite time to work.

Rumpus: Where do you find your materials?

Collins: I go to estate sales, secondhand stores, browse Craigslist’s free section looking for magazines/books, and have been know to jump into the occasional dumpster after materials.


Special notice: Paper Trumpets will now be a once-a-month column. Stop by on the first Wednesday of every month to get your collage fix. The next installment will appear on April 1st. Thanks for reading, and for looking!

Kevin Sampsell is the publisher of the micropress Future Tense Books in Portland, Oregon. His books include the story collection, Creamy Bullets, the memoir, A Common Pornography, and the novel, This Is Between Us. His work has appeared in publications such as Pank, Sixth Finch, Poets & Writers Magzine, Yeti, Fairy Tale Review, Tin House, Best Sex Writing 2010, and Best American Essays 2013. More from this author →