Using Magazines Creatively

A collection of pages from a magazine.

Do you subscribe to a lot of magazines?  I subscribe to an art magazine and have been given subscriptions to a couple of other travel and home magazines. I enjoy reading them when I have a moment of free time.  

Did you know that you can use magazines to help you with your creativity?  

The concept is pretty simple. You use magazines to help in designing compositions that are unique. 


Here are two ways to use magazines creatively:

1. Make a collage.

  • Cut out photographs, colored ads, text,  anything in the magazine that interests you. 
  • Combine items from several magazines if you would like.
  • Arrange the items in a pleasing composition using texture, color, value, line, shape, space and form.
  • Then glue the items that you have collected on a large piece of paper or cardboard.
  • Use the collage as your composition to be painted or sketched.
  • Draw the design on drawing paper, watercolor paper or canvas. You can enlarge parts of the collage or exaggerate.
  • Choose the elements of art you want the work to focus on.
  • Play with the design. Have fun!

You may end up with some really strange subject matter in your composition which may be a real creative stretch for you.  Doing something unusual is the purpose of the activity.

2. Use the magazine to suggest the subject matter for your work. This one is a little harder to explain.

  • Randomly make a list of four numbers. Let’s say 43, 77, 89 and 100.
  • Find those pages in your magazine. Tear them out or mark with a bookmark. 
  • On the last page, pick a word to use in the composition. You can say, “I will use the fourth word on page 100.” Or you can be more flexible and pick a word you happen to like that is on page 100.
  • Use the items on the four pages as a guide in creating a composition for your artwork.
  • Paint, draw, sculpt, weave, etc. using the composition you came up with.

In the photograph above you can see the four magazine pages I cut out. Page 43 had photographs of paint in various values of hyacinth purple. Apparently that color is very trendy right now. There was a picture of a hyacinth on the page also. Page 77 was an ad for edible flower arrangements with a chocolate bunny. Page 89 was an ad for air freshener. The page had a picture of the ocean in all blues.  Page 100 was 1/2 text. Below the text there was a picture of children jumping up and down on a sofa. The children were wearing homemade capes.

My favorite word on page 100 was “living”. I decided to pick a favorite word instead of using  the fourth word on the page. The fourth word was “furnace”. That did not excite me. If you don’t want to pick a word, you could pick a letter to use.  This exercise can be changed according to your creative needs. Do not feel that you have to do this the way I am suggesting. I am just throwing out ideas to get you inspired to try something new.

So, now I have the basis for making a composition. What will I come up with? At the moment I have no idea. I’ll keep you posted.

Anyone else use magazines creatively? I would love to hear your ideas.

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