Collage is a medium that most of us have dabbled in at some point – whether in primary school with PVC glue, or obsessively decorating bedroom walls and schoolbooks with torn out images from magazines. An art form that utilises pre-existing texts and imagery, paints, ribbons and other mixed media in order to create a unique artwork with a meaning that may often transcend the original material’s context, collage was popularised in the 20th century by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Jazz Grant is a Brighton-born, London-based artist making an impact in the fashion and art worlds with her visionary collages. Here she chats to Bee Beardsworth about how she got into the creative world, her process and her enchanting vision.
Who are you and where are you from?
JAZZ from Brighton
What do you do? Would you say that you’re mainly a collage artist at the moment?
Yes, I solely work on my collages right now. I started by collaborating with photographers but now I’m moving into collaging with my own material.
How did you get to this stage of your creative journey? I know that you’ve previously worked in more of a fashion background, creating your own clothing line as well as working with designers like Wales Bonner and Art School.
Yes exactly! I’ve worked with a handful of different young, London-based fashion designers and I really thought that that was where my path was heading. At the same time, I have always been drawn to collage as a medium and found it came quite naturally. The two practises complement each other really. With collaging, I could create pieces and fully realise an idea, quickly and while being skint. Fashion is a much longer and more expensive route where I struggled to truly express myself.
Where does your passion for collage stem from?
I remember Hannah Höch being the first collage artist I was infatuated with at school. When you’re naturally drawn to something visual, it’s hard to put into words why. It’s a kind of emotional reaction that ignites when I see something I connect to, or when I create something that I love.
What inspires your work and where do you draw visual resources from? You stated on an Instagram post that you think you often create work around the idea of Utopia.
That was a cool realisation for me, as I realised more and more that the images I wanted to create involved creating kind of Utopia. A different reality. And now I know that that is something I want to delve into further. I keep thinking and dreaming about the ‘end of the world’, alternate universes and an unattainable paradise.
You’ve had your collages on t-shirts, including one made in collaboration with Rachel Chinouriri that raised a whopping £7k for the NHS in April. Do you hope to continue using your creative skills to raise awareness and create positive change, and do you think that this is an important part of being a creative?
I think it’s healthy to be as open to ideas and opportunities as you can be. Having that mentality has meant that I’ve found myself working in ways I wouldn’t have been able to predict. I also think that there is a pressure and precedence being set at the moment where creatives are expected to do things ‘for the good of the people’. For me, if it feels right, I’ll do it. I don’t think that expectation should be put on to all creatives.
It’s a really intricate and time-consuming process so I roped in my family to help me. Incredibly, I was granted permission to use one of the most iconic films, ‘The Harder They Come’ by Perry Henzell as the spine of the film. I downloaded the footage as a sequence of still images, arranged the shots onto a page as if it’s a contact sheet, then had to print off and collage with each individual frame, scan them back into my computer, and use a software in Photoshop to bring the collaged footage back to life.
It can make you feel completely crazy at times as you spend days working on it, piece it back together, and you’ve only created 10 seconds of moving image or something mad like that. The film is 1 minute long, and initially the commission was for 8 minutes!
What’s coming next for you?
I’m now creating a body of work from collaging my own imagery. I’m looking to hold an exhibition within the next year!
Finally, what advice would you give to a young creative struggling to find their feet?
Learn what your personal genius is and nurture it.
Interview by: @beebeardsworth
Jazz Grant: @jazzgrantstudio