First few basic question, who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?
My name is Steve Reynolds and I’m a freelance graphic designer that creates collage art under the alias of Wolves of Suburbia. I’m born and bred in Harrow, a borough of North West London, England.
How long have been doing collages and how did you start to do them?
My first attempts at collage probably stretch back to around 15 years ago. In the early 2000’s I was in to online art and design forums which lead me to find a whole host of inspiring artists. The early works of Misprinted Type (Eduardo Recife) got me hooked, along with the likes of John Stezaker and several key artists from the dada movement. I fell in love with the aesthetics of handmade collage, so I gave it a go myself.
Back then I didn’t have the guts to glue things down in case I made a mistake, so I would make ‘temporary’ works that only lasted a few minutes and would then disappear forever… On the odd occasion that I did glue a piece down, they would soon end up in multiple pieces, in the bin!
I pretty much stopped making collages for years while I focused my creativity on playing music but when my band broke up, my urge to create art turned back to collage. I learned to lose, or at least deal with that fear of making mistakes and to not be so precious about the clippings and materials that I collect. I’ve now been making collages consistently for the last 4-5 years.
What’s the best part of the collaging process?
Honestly, the biggest buzz I get is when I find new material to work with. Tattered books, vintage mags, old receipts, invoices etc… All the untapped possibilities! It’s essentially junk to most people but to me, it’s treasure. And when I strike gold, it feels awesome!
And then, what’s the hardest part?
Overthinking things. If I find myself over-engineering or trying to force an idea too much, I have to remind myself to strip it back, breathe and just try to let it flow.
What other art forms inspires you beside collaging?
Music is my first love. I played bass in a couple of bands in my teens and throughout my twenties and I find that listening to music goes hand in hand with my collaging process. I tend to always have something on, even if it’s just on in the background. Although, more recently I find myself listening to more and more podcasts… If I’m struggling with an idea or nothing is flowing, I plug in my headphones and see where the music takes me.
In your artworks, what are the most important things/elements to yourself?
It’s a stone-cold cliché but I want my works to be open to interpretation. I tend to take images of the physical human form, deconstruct it in different ways and juxtapose the pieces with elements of abstraction and symbolism. Sometimes however, these elements might say enough to me on their own that I can leave behind the human aspect… I also like skulls and snakes.
“The more elements or layers that I use, the more convoluted my ideas become, and I start to feel lost.”
If you compare your first work and the latest one, how much your works and techniques have changed or developed in your own mind?
I think I’ve simplified my whole process and adopted a more minimal approach. My aim right now is to produce work that uses as few elements as possible. I find that the more elements or layers that I use, the more convoluted my ideas become, and I start to feel lost. If I can use two images or pieces that work together then that’s ideal, but 3 tends to be my magic number… for me, less is definitely more!
What’s your favourite work? And why? What makes it stand out?
This is difficult, but I think I’d choose a piece that I made at the beginning of this year called ‘Bonedaggerdamage’… It could just be the name, I think it sounds cool as hell!
I like that it’s ambiguous and somewhat cryptic… How do the 3 images of a bone, a dagger and a young boy with a bandaged (damaged) head tie together, yet appear so separate?
Maybe they are just random elements thrown together for you to draw your own ideas from or maybe it relates to the horrific amount of knife crime incidents that have occurred in London over the last few years… Who knows?
Also, I know it’s a dead format, but I think it would make a sweet cassette tape cover!
What are your favorite source materials? How do you find them and do you spend much time while looking for them?
I have a ‘thing’ for old, worn, vintage magazines and paper ephemera that existed before at least the 1970s. The idea that this stuff has just been collecting dust in someone’s attic for the last half a century or more intrigues me…
I probably spend far too much time on eBay looking for this trash! I also find stuff in my local charity shops, freecycle and car boot sales.
If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?