Remember scouring the house for every glossy magazine you could find just to have enough material for the tenuous, yet completely necessary project of labeling your binders for the new school year? It took skill, of course. Procuring letters that demonstrated the right amount of zany and symmetry to assemble subject titles like “Geometry,” “English” and “World History” was a diligent process. No getting caught up in the chaos of words and visuals, no swaying from the intended goal allowed. For artist Derek Gores, however, it is the chance of surprise and unpredictability in working with magazines that drives his artistic creations. “I try to set myself up to struggle a bit; I don’t plan it all out,” Gores explains in a video on his website. “If I try to just render a picture, I could do a pretty good job of it, but it would just be that. This is like having collaborators to help me make it better than it would’ve been.” The proud Melbourne, FL, resident has successfully upcycled magazines, CD jackets and found materials to fashion his nationally recognized collage portrait series, with sizes ranging anywhere from 6 feet by 5 feet to just 8 inches squared. Gores’ interest in the contrast of the larger picture with the patterns and disarray of it up close is what he believes makes each portrait so engaging. “I want to create that living being, but I try to do it out of things that are the opposite; things that are designed; things that are man-made; things that you wouldn’t think of as art, and try to reuse those to create a new context where it conveys a person,” he says. With a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Gores has been honing his craft from an early age — experimenting with painting, sculpture and mixed media to further develop his unique style. But, the quickness and speed that collaging requires initially drew him to the art form, and has kept him hooked since. Gores’ creative method is not as regimented as one might expect. First, he starts by drawing a simple line or series of shapes that form the image’s basic outline. Then, he manually rips out the pieces from magazines and other paper sources, dips his fingertips into a bucket of a liquitex gloss medium and coats the scraps with the sticky substance. As he gently taps them into place on the canvas, Gores tries to generate a similar picture, while deconstructing it as far from reality as possible. It is the viewer’s responsibility to fill in the gaps. “I don’t have a meaning for every bit that’s used. I prefer instead to be open to the suggestion of a story,” Gores says. “A friend of mine calls it a ‘Zen Narrative’ where it’s not a real story or a literal story or logical story. It’s letting a story find itself through random elements.” For more on Gores’ work or on how to purchase a signed print of your own, visit his personal website. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for the latest information on workshops, gallery exhibitions featuring the artist and more.
The Art of Directing Randomness
Florida artist Derek Gores pieces together recycled magazine bits and labels to create collage portraits.