Artist Interviews 2022

Kim Hamburg  
By Julia Siedenburg

Kim Hamburg (aka gluepaperscissors) is a very talented collage artist. Her collages remind of a beautifully controlled chaos. Unexpected images connected to make one fun vibrant piece. Mostly her constellation revolves around a female subject.

Her Instagram bio reads: “Full-time Foster Mom, part-time artist Self-taught works from home. Always needs a new glue stick”. I stumbled upon Kim’s pieces and immediately knew I wanted her to become part of our next issue.

It is fun and also calming to look at them and search for all the different little pieces that make up her collages.

How did you discover your love for collages?

I’m not really sure how I discovered my love for collage, except that I’ve always loved paper and cutting things. As a child one of my favorite things to do was to make paper chains and paper dolls. Sometimes when I’m collaging I have this feeling come over me that I’m a child again sitting on the floor with my scissors making paper dolls. It’s very natural for me to be holding scissors, like an extension of my arm. I started making these collages during lockdown when Covid hit. I was needing something to do while I was at home and also something that was relaxing, and I had the ideas for collages going through my mind for a long time and just decided it was the right time to make them. My daughter helped me start an Instagram account and I started posting them just so friends and family could see what I was making. I had no idea when I first started that anyone would look at my art and really had no idea that anyone would want to buy it! When I first started, I sometimes didn’t even glue all the paper down. I collaged on the back of scrap paper, cardboard, or whatever was around. Of course now I use acid free, artist quality paper and materials, but it sure didn’t start out that way.

Who are your inspirations?

In the art world I love contemporary art and mid-century design. In particular, Matisse, Albert, Hockney, and Frida Kahlo. Kahlo used color to create emotion and draw out a particular visceral effect on the viewer and I try to do that with my collages. I also love the Quilts of Gee’s Bend. This touches on my other love which is fabric. The quilts are not made from a pattern, rather they are made intuitively and improvisationally. This is how I make my collages. I do not start with a pattern or a plan or sketch, I just begin. I am also inspired by other artists on Instagram. I really enjoy looking at all the art that everyone posts. The collage community is very supportive and it feels like we all know each other, so I do find inspiration from them.

What is your process like? Do I have specific magazines I buy?

First I want to say that I have to have a messy area to work. What I mean is that all my papers and what-nots must be in front of me (and behind, below, beside) in order to see and know what I need. I work intuitively which means I don’t have a set idea of what my finished collage is going to look like. I usually start with an image that attracts me in some way. It is usually a color or a look. I love faces so I am naturally drawn to an emotive face. Once I’ve selected the image — then it’s just a matter of finding the papers and putting them down. I just intuitively start selecting colors, patterns, etc. Everything I use is right within arms length distance, so I’m able to easily find what I need. I don’t have any specific magazines I buy — I like all of them; however, vintage Vogue magazines have great models and photographs so I can’t pass those by. I also like vintage repair books, like refrigerator or washing machine repair. They have really great diagrams in them with lots of numbers and letters and I like adding those type of elements to my collages. They also add an additional element of domestic awareness to the collage. My collages are often about home life and those repair books reflect that.

How long does it take me, do you collect the pieces randomly and then put them together?

I guess you could say that I do collect the paper randomly because I just hunt and gather anything that looks like I could use it at some point and time. I might pass by a dumpster that has a great box or good paper in it and I will stop and get it. I have no idea at the time how I will use it…but I have it when the idea strikes me. I also go to thrift stores and do the same thing. I find things that I don’t need to use right away, but I know I will probably use it sometime so I buy it. It doesn’t take me very long to make a collage. I can usually finish one in about an hour or two. If I start on one and I find that I’m struggling to find other papers to go with it, I let that one go and start with something new. So when I get going, it just flows very well and it’s like the collage put itself together. I only work on one collage at a time. I work best in the morning so I start then and usually have a collage up on IG by 9 or 10 o’clock.

Tell us about your background and your upbringing. Was art always a part of your life?

I came from a very average middle-class family in the Midwest. I suppose that I should thank my mother because she let me be messy and crafty as a kid. My sister and I were also making things. We used paper and fabric and cardboard and whatever else we could find. We always decorated the house with our paper creations and it was a lot of fun. I went to college and became a middle school science teacher, taught for a few years, then stayed at home with my 2 girls. I do not have any training or education in the arts and have never taking an art class. I am entirely self-taught. I think it’s my own curiousity that helped me along. I just tried everything.

More about upbringing: I played the piano and won science fairs. I was made to mow the lawn and I hated it. My dad also made me help him repair our cars and I hated that but I did learn how to change the oil and fix a tire and change the brakes!! My mother collected green stamps and she let me gather them and put them in the stamp books. I loved that! Once we had enough books filled she would take me to the store where you could redeem them and we would buy something for the house. Recently a collage friend sent me some vintage green and pink stamps to use in my collages and it brought back a lot of good memories. So overall I guess you would say I had a very middle class mid-west upbringing. I do remember going to museums as a child and I did enjoy looking at the art. We also had a set of encyclopedias in the house and I would read about artists in those, but I never thought I would be an artist. I guess this is why I sometimes feel like I have imposter syndrome — you know where you feel like you are unworthy of the recognition you are receiving for your work? I feel that way. I especially feel that way because I am self taught, like why would anyone want my work? I’m getting better about it though. The more people talk to me about my collages and buy my art, the less I feel I am an imposter.

Does being a foster mother influence your work and encourage your love for collage?

To be honest I don’t think it influences my work or my love for collage, but it does provide for a nice break in the day. When I collage I am consumed with it so my brain shuts off everything and just focuses on the art and I’m able to relax that way. My foster daughter is very supportive of my collaging and she is very impressed that I have so many instagram followers. LOL! I think she is also impressed that people actually buy them. I enjoy being a foster parent and Im grateful that I am able to do it. It has helped me to become more patient, more empathetic and more aware of mental health issues. I suppose in that regard it has influenced my work since I do bring a lot of mental health issues into my collages.

Are you planning on expanding your mixed media pieces? Trying out another style?

I do actualy plan on expanding my mixed media pieces. I have been using more paint recently and I really like the added texture. I’m considering moving in that direction — where I paint and then add collaged elements into the piece. This way I can make larger. That is the one complaint I get all the time — people want my collages to be bigger. It’s hard to make them bigger because the images are only so big and I use original everything!! I don’t plan on doing any other art other than collage and collage painting. I would LOVE to quilt, but oh my…the start up cost for that would be so much and I know me…I would want everything, all the gadgets, all the fabric, would take up the whole house! I have a collection of vintage embroidered fabric pieces. I have tossed around in my head the idea that I could incorporate those somehow in my collage. There is nothing solid yet, but it is there on the back-burner.

Which pieces are your favorites and why?

Well, yes I do have favorites, and yes there are some I don’t like. And yes, there are some I really don’t like. Okay — my favorites are the Halloween series that I did. I love them because I love Halloween and I got really creative with the collages and it actually pushed me in a different direction with my collage making. The Halloween collages are some of the most liked ones that I have. It’s funny because I get this giddy feeling in the middle of making a collage I really like — it’s just overwhelming. And the opposite is true of one I don’t like. Because I am an intuitive artist it is usually just based on my mood. Good days I make happy good collages, bad days, not so good ones. My least favorite are the early ones that I made. Yes, I know I was just beginning and everyone has to start somewhere….but…they are hard to look at.

Your subject matter is women - explain why you focus on women.

As a woman, it’s what I know, it’s what I live everyday. My art reflects my life and what happens around me. It is also about the experiences I have had. I live in the real world and my art also lives in the real world. You won’t find rainbows and unicorns. You won’t find women who smile everyday and make a hot meal for their husband because that’s what wives do. I want the viewer to look at what I made and think about what I meant when I made the collage, what was on my mind, what experience did I have — and then relate that to themselves. In this way they can find a connection with me. I think this is why I have so many followers. I think people do find themselves reflected back when they see my art, especially women. Women know. Wives and mothers know. And I think the occasional man knows too! Womens issues and women in art are not as well represented as men. I think I read a statistic somewhere where on average in the museums, 80% (or more) of what is in the collection is made by a man. I think there is a ton of art out there that is “man-centric”…so why not make a lot of art by women, about women, and issues that women deal with all the time.

What are your plans and hopes for the future?

Well I hope to keep making collages and keep on keeping on. What I would absolutely LOVE is for someone to take my art and do all the business side of it. I really don’t like the selling and shipping part. I just want to make art. I don’t know how to do that — do I get a manager? But that would really be helpful. I see artists with Etsy stores and websites and in galleries and I think that’s what I need to do, but I really don’t know how to do it or have the energy once I’m finished making art for the day! I would also like to have an endless supply of cradled wood panels!! That’s really it. I try to live day by day. I don’t drink or smoke or gamble…my addiction is art, specifically collage art. Thank you so much for asking me these questions. I am thankful and appreciate it.

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