Interview: Elyse’ Jokinen

First few basic questions, who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?

My name is Elyse’ Jokinen and I’m a visual artist with a focus on analog collage and photography. I’ve been cutting up paper since middle school and started studying photography 7 years ago.
I’m originally from northern Minnesota and have lived in many places around the US. I currently call Phoenix, AZ home.
I’m the founder and facilitator at Wilder Collage (@wildercollage) and a forever student. I love to learn, connect in the community, and create.

Why collages? What was the first thing that really caught your attention and made you want to do your own collages?

I remember the first time I felt fascinated with collage like it was yesterday. My sister had cut out characters from comic strips and we were moving them around the paper. I loved being able to create a new story from an old one.
Then, in middle school, my aunt got me a Teen Vogue subscription. After I was done reading it, I would cut it up to decorate my notebooks. Nothing could beat placing together colors, shapes, words, and images – I was hooked.
I had no idea that there was a huge world of collage artists out there. What I did know – from a very young age – was that the feeling of sitting cross-legged with a stack of magazines, scissors, and possibilities was definitely for me.

“The best part of this is, that no matter how I’m feeling, I’m always up for one part of that process.”

Can you tell me about the process of making your work? When you have an art session, do you have a similar pattern of how the creative process flows?

I usually wait until everyone else is in bed and the house is quiet. I’ll throw on an old sitcom or podcast and get to work. Now that I think of it, I really compartmentalize each step. One night I’ll just rip pages out of old books and that’s it – kind of organize my material. On another night I’ll go through that pile and simply cut what is interesting to me. Then when I’m hit with a burst of inspiration, I’ll spend a whole night placing or putting collages together. Lastly, on a different day, I’ll glue.
The best part of this is, that no matter how I’m feeling, I’m always up for one part of that process. I genuinely never tire of creating collages.

How do your own artworks make you feel when you look at them ready?

Something I love about looking at a finished piece is that it can usually tell me exactly how I’m feeling without me even really knowing it yet. I’ll look at it and go, “Oh, that’s what’s going on.” How cool is that?
I’ll also either instantly click with a piece or toss it into the rework/scrap pile asking, “What did I learn from this? What can I do better next time?”

What are your favorite source materials? How do you find them? Do you spend a lot of time looking for them?

Old discarded books, primarily. I love the feeling of matte pages. I love vintage colors. Usually, old book pages are a bit thicker and better quality too. I found this batch of old postcards when I was visiting the midwest recently and I’m quite fond of working on those right now. The discarded books at the library never fail me – I also like thrift stores and antique stores, and once the word is out that I do this people give me old books and that is really cool too.
I love to browse for books. I do take time to look for them and I thoroughly enjoy it. I’ll usually get a hot coffee, one weekend morning and go “treasure hunting” – it’s all part of the process. The problem is getting too big of a pile to go through!

What do you look for when you go through the materials? What catches your attention?

A couple years into my photography journey, I worked with photographer Jessica Holleque and she helped me discover my visual elements. She went through my portfolio of images and pointed out patterns that I just hadn’t noticed before. My love for black and white, the colors orange and pink, floral in all of its beauty, movement, gesture and so on.
I’ve noticed that the elements that show up frequently in my photography have also become a large part of my collage work. It has helped me feel deeply connected to what I am creating.

What do your art and collaging mean to you?

Not to sound too dramatic but since becoming a mother almost 7 years ago, my art has been absolutely vital in staying grounded in who I am. When I create, it’s usually in the quiet of the evening when everyone else is asleep. I get to let go of everything – all of the pressures and stresses and just cut, rip, tear and express. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without art being a constant in my life. I’ve been able to hold onto myself and dear goodness what a gift!

What drives you forward as an artist?

The possibilities. In collage and even in photography there truly are endless possibilities to explore. Something happens randomly in my day to spark a new idea and so I follow it and it sparks something else. I’m then led to a class or a book and it’s like this huge inspiration that wasn’t even there last week. It’s easy to keep going forward when there are such exciting things at each and every turn. I want to learn and experiment and create forever! What will my work look like next year? Five years from now? Who knows, but I can’t wait to find out!

You also run Wilder Collage – can you tell us more about it?

Wilder Collage (@wildercollage) started as an Instagram account of admiration – a space to collect pieces that really felt like WOW. As I got to know some of the artists online, Instagram started to feel more superficial. I wanted to find a way to go deeper – I wanted to get to know these talented people around me.
Wilder membership was born and now we get together every month over Zoom to discuss techniques and learn from some really amazing leaders in the industry. It feels like such a gift and I’m so grateful to be in this space, facilitating these rich conversations.

If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?


Elyse’ Jokinen around the internet

Instagram: @elysejokinen
Wilder Collage: @wildercollage