Dreams are generally visually phantasmagoric, meaning that the scene is made up of many different elements that continuously blend into each other, change and shift.
So it is no surprise that a colorful dreamer like Jak Rabbit (AKA Jess Kitowski), would choose collage — the art of assembling different forms to create a new whole — as the medium of choice while trying to bring her unconscious images to life. As she explains herself, “My collages delve into the surreal mainly because I’m a vivid dreamer. I always have strange dreams and these collages help me find a way to bring them to life.”
“My great Aunt Clara would create these beautiful collages from old National Geographics (the ones with very thin pages) and I love the texture that she would create from them.” This experience inspired her to make her own photo collages using magazines around the house. “The pieces turned out nothing like my great Aunt’s, but it sparked within me my love for collages.”
And then she entered the digital realm. “About a year ago I started to use PicsArt and it rekindled my love for making art. By using this digital medium, my skills and sense of style have vastly improved, allowing me to wildly unleash my imagination.”
In addition to being masterful at the art of collage, Jak Rabbit is a master at working with colors. “A lot of vintage photography/film inspired me. I love the warm saturated colors they produced. I’ll also color my characters blue most of the time. That’s mainly inspired by the movie “Beetlejuice.” Remember the blue-colored receptionist with the “Miss Argentina” sash? She is the big inspiration behind that. I just fell in love with her color scheme. She looked so surreal. My significant other inspired me to incorporate the gold texture. He advised me it would give my pieces a more luxurious appeal and I just fell in love with giving people actual golden hair.”
Jak Rabbit’s style is also unique in that she brings her other love, songwriting, into her pieces. “Writing songs and making collages go hand in hand for me. Each deals with layering of different textures, manipulating sounds and images to create new meaning, and expressing emotion with words and color to create passion.” She will sometimes even add her own personal lyrics into a piece. “When I quote others I’m usually making a piece centered around them. The rest I write myself, which can be lyrics from songs I’ve written or poems that the piece inspired or little stories (like with ‘After the war…’).”
Below, Jak Rabbit explains her process for creating these pieces using PicsArt and shares her top three favorite works that she’s created and the stories behind them.
1. The Process
“First of all, always start with a high-resolution photograph. Think, ‘the better the input, the better the output.’ I utilize the collage background tool all the time. I start off with a blank white canvas and then add images (usually vintage images that are black and white) that evoke some sort of deep feeling or emotion within me. I also like to use images where a person has an intriguing expression or position. It’s more interesting to manipulate. After, I juxtapose the images the way I like, then I add color and texture — my favorite part. I tend to color my characters blue, but sometimes green, because they look more alien-like. Sometimes I’ll throw in little puns or funny elements like a strawberry head or place people in weird positions. To finish off all the pieces I use the Paper Effect to give it a bit more texture, then add warmth with the Cross Process Effect and then use the Adjust Tool to get the colors just the way I like.”
2. “After the war…”
“This is one of my earlier pieces but I love it a lot because I blended multiple images to create the scenery. The girls are Ziegfeld girls photographed by the great Alfred Cheney Johnston. I love the way he photographed them partially naked with only bits and pieces of clothing (like just wearing heels or a shawl and nothing else). The zebra, of course, adds the surreal element creating more intrigue and thus inspired this short story: ‘After the war we stayed in our estate with Zelda our zebra. Our only clothes was the skin we were in and we buried our feet into the rubble imagining it was the sandy beaches of Normandy. Almost everything was wiped out of our families’ existence except the portrait of mother when she was our age. Now it’s kept preserved among the ashes and cracked paint, burning its memory into the old wall.’”
3. “Peaceful Protest”
“This piece is simple but it gives a strong statement, I think. A lot of protesting was taking place around the time I made this. The media seemed to portray only the violent protesters, which was not the whole the truth, so I wanted to make my own version of a peaceful protest. The image shows two men in gas masks on the far left and right throwing tear gas and in the midst of it is two Buddhist monks meditating, peacefully.”
4. “The Overwhelming Truth”
“It is said that ‘ignorance is bliss’ and that may be true because the truth can feel overwhelming, but at the same time ‘the more you know, the more you grow’ and the truth, while sometimes hard to swallow, can be quite a beautiful thing. It changes you when you learn the truth about something. Either you can deny it or you can accept it and move on. This piece illustrates someone being so overwhelmed by the truth that they cover it up with their hands.”
Creating collages has helped Jak Rabbit express herself. “Someone told me once it is unhealthy to bottle things up inside and I definitely understand that now. [Creating collages] is something that I will continue to do until the day I die because I get so much pleasure in creating things. With each piece I create, I learn a little bit more about myself and my craft. It is important to me to have accessible tools to create art. Anyone has the power to create with PicsArt. It just depends on your imagination and how much you are willing to challenge yourself.” Her inspirations include her “strange dreams, other artist’s and musicians’ lives and works, human and animal rights, vintage film and photography, science and technology.”
What inspires you and how does creating help you express yourself? Create a collage inspired by Jak Rabbit and share on PicsArt with the hashtag #Collage.
Also, check out Jak Rabbit’s other passion, her music, here.