Inspiration From the Queen of Collage

Art that is seemingly simple can be surprisingly complex.

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Susan Wickstrand (aka the “Queen of Collage”) creates collage art that’s accessible for everyone. She excavates things from her everyday world to create her collages: Actual things—like matchbooks, postcards, and travel souvenirs—are interwoven with positive thoughts or phrases. Although Susan believes that collage is an art form that everyone can create, she also sees it as an aesthetically sophisticated and complex medium. The found objects collected for a collage contain deeply intentional meanings. The materials also take time to thoughtfully search and assemble. The result is a final product that reveals a richly layered personal story.

Finding Your Positive

“There’s so many negative images in the world, and especially what we see on the news and in the media. I want my art to have a very positive message. It’s very intentional,” Wickstrand says. She says her inspiration comes from the belief that, “love conquers all—loving yourself, the planet, the world.”

It’s not as if Wickstrand doesn’t understand or recognize negativity in world. To the contrary: It’s the reason why she works so purposefully to counteract unconstructive impressions. “Everyone has challenges in their life,” she says. “It’s important to center yourself each morning and move forward. Everyone has gifts to contribute to share with the world. It’s important for me to encourage others to share those gifts. I chose to be an artist, but everyone has something: Cooking, or teaching a yoga class, etc. There’s a lot of talented people in this world. One of the problems is that people just don’t give themselves enough creative license.” She is trying to change that by sharing such a universal yet deeply personal art form.

Photo courtesy of Susan Wickstrand
Photo courtesy of Kevin Roche

Keeping it Simple to Stay Inspired

Wickstrand keeps the ability to share her gift alive by keeping things simple—in spite of balancing art commissions, teaching classes, and raising her daughter (together with husband, photographer Kevin Roche). She stays grounded by keeping close to the ocean.

“I’m inspired by lighting, living near the beach. One sunset will never equal another. There’s changing tides, changing colors. When I go to the beach, I feel like I hit a reset button.” She also keeps comfortable in what she wears—no chi-chi high couture in spite of all her global travels and deep interest in cultures, fabrics, and textiles.Wickstrand is likely to wear jeans paired with an asymmetrical t-shirt while working in her studio. Sanuk flip flops are a favorite, and so is jewelry collected on her travels for a little extra flair. “When I wear certain things, then that’s how I feel,” she says.

Wickstrand’s collages and all the material that goes into them are living reflections of our world. Her work reflects the mindful movement and gives new meaning to the notion of intentional living: Our thoughts are things. The better you think, the better you feel. That’s an art-form we can all learn to do.


Written for Sanuk by Julie Balter