Interview with Collage Artist Naomi Vona
Meet Naomi Vona, collage artist extraordinaire. Naomi brings vintage photos to life with pops of colour and unique patterns, ensuring that no memory ever goes to waste. Join us as we discover her unique journey in creating her label.
How did you start your journey towards creating your collage label?
I have been doing collages for a long time, since 2003, but these specific kinds of works came to be while I was living in Ireland in 2013. A few months before leaving Italy, I bought lots of vintage photos and postcards from eBay because I’ve always loved collecting things. I really love using them as found material. Once I had hundreds of vintage photos on my hands, I thought to myself: why not add the things I’ve collected to my collages? So I started to play around with them. The result was so satisfying that I just kept going. I didn’t want to stop.
How did you first get into collage?
I am not sure exactly when I was first introduced to collage, but I always loved to draw. I think that making art was the only thing I could do with confidence; I never doubted that I had a sort of talent to showcase. Following this passion, I also made art during high school and later I attended the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Italy. My academic background shaped my creative path and really helped me to develop my visual language.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process behind your practice?
I always try to not overthink what I’m doing. I want the picture in front of me to guide me. I don’t personally know any of the subjects of the vintage images I use, so my fantasy is free to run wild, helping to form my decisions. All of my works are directly part of my personal life experience. I like to create double meanings, play with words, or quote songs, books or movies that I love. Lots of my artworks are titled after and directly inspired by them.
Every artwork is basically composed of three elements: my life background, my inspirations and my subconscious. These kinds of collages are the perfect mix of my passion for photography and design. A fascination with the past is key and the vibrant colours are the portal. I like to imagine that I have an imaginary portal that brings me into the past every time I desire, and my artworks are the visual proof of my time travel adventures.
What are some of your inspirations?
Pop Art, Dada and Surrealism are the historic art movement that inspires me, but I also love tons of contemporary artists. I don’t have a preference among the artists, but I mostly enjoy collage artists, illustrators and photographers.
What is the favourite project that you have worked on to date?
I really enjoyed making my series on wood panels (https://naomivona.art/collections/art-on-wood). I think it’s been a big challenge for me to work on this format. I also really enjoyed creating my series Mongolfiere (Hot Hair Balloons) - https://naomivona.art/collections/mongolfiere-series.
I would love to continue working on wood panels for future projects. I really enjoy this material.
What are your favourite materials to work with and how does it centre on sustainability?
I like to work with vintage papers of all sorts, such as photos, postcards and other found papers. I also enjoy working with pens, mostly acrylic and gel ones. Another material that I really enjoy is washi tape, a rice paper tape available in many colours and patterns.
For the vintage papers, I mostly look for them online in marketplaces. Sometimes I look for them on vintage markets, charity and thrift shops, but it’s less common. For more contemporary paper stuff, I look at books and magazines. Inspiration can come from many sources.
I try to reuse any sort of paper, and for me using found paper is a good way to give to them a new life and purpose. I try to save as much material as I can, and I also make collage kits for anyone wanting to experiment with collages.
What do you do in your spare time?
I really enjoy having long walks, especially in green areas. Before COVID, I also loved visiting galleries and museums. I hope I can start seeing new exhibitions soon.
What is some advice you have for aspiring makers?
Have fun, be curious and don’t be afraid to fail - it’s part of the process.