Book Review: The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery: Mixed-Media Techniques for Collage, Altered Books, Artist Journals, and More

The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery: Mixed-Media Techniques for Collage, Altered Books, Artist Journals, and More

By Karen Michel

I have had this book sitting on my wishlist for a while, but I was very on the fence. When I saw it at the library I was quite excited, and now I have read it, I will need to grab it at some stage for my own bookshelf. The book is split into 4 chapters covering altering actual photos, printer/scanner images, other found imagery and prints. There is also an artist gallery with selected featured artists.

I really liked this book, and there were lots of ideas that really excited me, with good images and clear explanations of techniques. She also includes useful tips for further extension of ideas.

I had never seen many of the techniques and it was interesting to see how to get similar effects as some photo apps with photos. Increasingly I am putting more photos on to some of my art journal pages and using more images so it was interesting to see the techniques here, that I will also be able to experiment with.

I particularly loved many of the techniques she shared on altering and integrating found images into your work. Karen’s journal pages are stunning with her layers of paint and gesso and juicy yumminess, and full of meaning.

Spreads of her journals are given with clear guidance, however the spreads are not shown so you can recreate her pages but rather so that you can create your own pages and go off in other directions. I was particularly inspired by her bird images and the use of found imagery.

The print making section also greatly inspired me. I particularly want to try her gum dichromate printing process, which coincides with an exhibition I saw recently that really intrigued me. She also went over lino printing, mono prints (many of the ideas would work with gelatin printing that is currently exciting a lot of people). The ways she pushed monoprinting was exciting and filled me with ideas for how to take it further. I also really love the monoprinting effect.

The artist gallery was filled with images, artist’s profiles and artist’s tips. Some of the artists that really inspired me were:

This are no “project-based” works with step by step directions, so if that is what you are looking for than this book is not for you. The images are also altered a lot, and I have read a comment alluding to the destruction and vandalism of images, so if you are looking for new scrapbooking formats, then this book is probably also not for you.

It is about utilising images, some of which you won’t ever put into an album, to give the images new meanings, or to emphasise the meaning you want to convey with the image. It is not about preserving images for family histories, so if that is what you primarily want to do, this is not the book for you either.

The book also uses a lot of paint (which I personally love), and is not primarily about collage, which is another complaint I have seen. So if you are looking for a straight collage book, then this is also possibly not the book for you. :)

I would really recommend this book, I really loved it. There are a lot of techniques in this book, and the work inspires you to push your use of imagery to new directions.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery: Mixed-Media Techniques for Collage, Altered Books, Artist Journals, and More

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