Interview: Butternut Collage

First the basic introduction – Can you tell me who are you, what are you doing, where are coming from?

I’m Butternut Collage, which is not my birth name – I’m actually called Jake Kennedy, and I’m an analog collage artist working on the south coast of the UK in a place called Hove.

Can you tell us about the creative process of your collages?

It’s something I do every day. I collect old material and try to make fun or abstract images from it. I’ve been doing it for quite a while and it’s almost become a kind of therapy for me. I usually start by rifling through a folder of source material until something leaps out at me and then try to combine it or destroy it or put it up against something else for contrast. Sometimes it works, sometimes it really doesn’t.

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

I have two types of favorites – adverts and material that was intended to get people to buy things is definitely one. There’s a wild-eyed optimism in these sorts of materials that’s really fun to play with, especially the further back in time you go.
Secondly, I love industrial pamphlets, factory photos, guidebooks, science manuals, the more brutal looking the better. Something about the shapes, lines, and often colors in these sorts of things make for happy cutting.

I find things all over the place, and people even send me things now. It’s all old stuff so it’ll be car boot fairs or charity shops. Often just things are left out by bins too. I’m always on the lookout for material, every second.

Can you describe your relationship to old paper as a working material?

I’m not sure really – it’s only in recent years that I’ve started to give more thought to the actual paper. I learn something pretty much every day, and paper, even the background paper of a piece, is becoming more and more important to me. I used to work on stiff white rigid paper mostly, but I’m trying to expand on that this year. I’ve been making collages on found things like wood, boxes, pieces of driftwood, with varying levels of success.

What is your workspace like? And how do you feel your workspace affects you?

I work in a converted petrol station in a mews, which sounds a little fancy I realize but it’s actually pretty much just a desk with all my folders around me. Other artists work here too, so there’s a nice community. I think it influences me as I can treat collage as more of a job, something I leave my home to go and do if that makes sense. I can come here and ‘switch on,’ which it’s sometimes hard to do in your home with all its distractions, and cats.

How do you boost your creativity? Do you have creative rituals?

I don’t have any rituals other than ‘get on with it’! Just start, see what happens. I think that’s my policy, even if I don’t particularly feel like it one day. Things that boost my creativity can be music or a book I’m reading, but more often than not it’s finding a new piece of source material and wondering what to do with it. So, shopping too is inspirational sometimes.

What your art and collaging mean to you?

It’s pretty much all I want to do. It can clear my mind on a, particularly grumpy day. More importantly, perhaps, the feeling when I don’t do it is pretty rubbish, so I think it has definite therapeutic qualities.
But I guess like most artists I’m very aware of how others view my art, especially in the social media age. It’s really hard to balance a love for what I do with this kind of public persona, however small it is. It’s such a weird battle.

Sometimes I think I should just stop all social media and just create. I never actually do of course, but I wonder how the work might change. When I first started collage the internet wasn’t even a thing, and I wasn’t worried about people seeing my work then. So I wonder if I’ve changed.

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

It depends really, I have so many – literally thousands – that they’re stored away at home, but when somebody buys one or I need to go back and look, I’m always surprised by what I see or have forgotten. Sometimes there’ll be something I can drawn from, or use in some way, or learn not to do again. Sometimes stuff that I thought was great at the time looks a bit out of date – but the flipside of that is other pieces can really grow on you over time. And then there are some pieces that are just absolute rubbish.

Which other art forms inspire you besides collaging?

I used to do linocut printing, which was a whole different game, so I still love and appreciate a good print. Other than that, it’s just music and books I’m afraid.

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


Butternut Collage around the internet

Instagram: @butternutcollage