Cut and paste collage artist and founder of the Brooklyn Collage Collective, Morgan Jesse Lappin, speaks to MOOF about his artwork and some exciting upcoming projects…
MOOF: Why collage? How did you get into collage in the first place?
MJL: I started making collage art because it was my way of coming up with designs for a t-shirt company I ran called Daydream Silkscreen which was located in Orange County, NY in around late 2006. As a kid I would visit my grandmother in Queens, NY who’s currently 91 and a holocaust survivor. She had the full World Book Encyclopedia set from the early 70’s. I would skim through the pages, and have always been fascinated with the colors and imagery in those books. So, it really randomly hit me to use those images to make designs for the clothing line we had.
Eventually I became more passionate about collage and in late 2007 I moved to Brooklyn. I started looking for group shows through Craigslist and started doing shows at this place called Niagara Bar in the village. I immediately got hooked, then randomly curated an art show called Collorgy featuring the works of over 40 artists in the middle of Bushwick. Somehow with no experience I turned a crazy artists building into a mad house bringing in around 300 people.
MOOF: How have your collages changed and transformed over the years?
MJL: I’ve always jumped around since the beginning. No consistent style, but my collages have become bigger and more complicated as the years went on. I take a while to make simple collages most of the time, I suppose I think too much. I’m always trying to outdo myself, and try different things. I’ve used VHS Tape boxes, audio cassettes, records, cigaret boxes and so on.
MOOF: How did you go about founding the Brooklyn collage collective?
MJL: It started in late 2013, as a collector and collage artist I’ve always kept up with new collage artists always finding new favorites. I figured, why not be like Xavier from the X-Men and put together a team of super powered collage artists. And so I did.
MOOF: It’s clear to see from your artwork you’ve got a great sense of humour, where does this wicked sense of humour come from?
MJL: My parents, two Jewish bad ass NYC hippies… very silly people indeed. Growing up was like being on a sitcom. My dad force-fed me Zappa when I was a kid and it changed my life… I grew up surrounded by a lot of music, and my uncle Bruce had a killer rock band in the 60’s called Side Three, me and his kids grew up like brothers. My mom is also a pretty silly lady who made sure I got my daily dose of educational television, the Pee Wee Herman Show.
MOOF: Where do you find the images you use in your collages, and where’s your favourite place to find them?
MJL: I love material from early 90’sand before. Old encyclopedias are awesome. Horror mags, old porn, old educational books are always fun. Life magazines are big, so those are a great source for larger images. I find things randomly, on the street, thrift stores, friends, and dungeons!
MOOF: Is the finding/collecting of images a large part of the creative process?
MJL: Of course, I love hunting for images. Recently though, since I’ve accumulated so much material over the years.. I put a halt on collecting any more books and I feel I have enough to complete tons of projects from here on. Which is great, because I ran out of room really, and being so closed in while working is tough, and not healthy. It’s also a nightmare losing clips or pages… takes a lot of time out of the day searching and it drives me gaga goo goo in the weee wo!
MOOF: Where do you create your collages?
MJL: My room, which I don’t seem to leave often.. can you tell?
MOOF: Some might consider your work quite shocking. Do you get much criticism for your artwork? How do you deal with that?
MJL: There was this one time I had this collage up depicting a funeral. In the background were crying people holding up a poster of the person who had died. In the foreground there were a few gentlemen on the floor crying, but it almost seemed as if they could be laughing hysterically. It was in black and white…and so I mindlessly replaced the the photo of the guy with a big vagina. It was interesting to watch peoples facial expressions when they got close.. some sad, some angry, some laughed.
Then one woman came over to me and asked if it was mine and I told her it was. If I remember correctly she told me how she thought it was disgusting, but I accept her remarks as a compliment because it left a strong impact. It was one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten.
MOOF: What is “The Rubber Jerusalem Project”?
MJL: This is a strange random name me and my cousin came up with as kids, but I used it as a name for my solo music project. I love making art, but music is one of the most important things in my life and has been since I was young. Music even plays a big role in my artwork. I play drums, bass, and guitar and I write and record all the time. I used to have a band called Baba Yaga which sort of sounded like Zappa/Zepplin with a splash of a Motown version of Wilco…WTF?
MOOF: Ok – a ‘desert island discs’ sort of thing; what eight songs, a book and a luxury item would you take with you if you were to be cast away on a desert island?
MJL: AHHHHH!!! Ok… 8 Songs off the top of my head:
- National Skyline – “October”
- Tears for Fears – “Pale Shelter”
- Led Zepplin – “On the Tiles”
- Yes – “Close to the Edge”
- Supergrass – “Moving”
- XTC – “Making Plans for Nigel”
- Soundgarden – “Rusty Cage”
- Baba Yaga – Shake Me
Any MAD magazine from the 80’s.
MOOF: What’s next for you? Do you have any projects in the works?
MJL: I’m totally revamping the Brooklyn Collage Collective, none of the past members are involved. I have two new collage artists I’m working with, Jessie, Laura and David Arms. Together we’re looking to open an online shop, art consult, add a graphic design division, and do a bunch more shows.. hopefully all over the world. Big ideas, I know.. so stay in tune for big updates with that. I’ve also started something called the Paper City Project. This is an idea inspired by an amazing local artist named Kevork Mourad.
The Paper City Experiment is a small idea to bring artists all over the world together to create cities through art. It all started in late 2017. The new project has no boundaries, and unites artists to create pieces of a puzzle that doesn’t exist. Different artists from all over hand illustrate or digitally illustrate buildings which ultimately are physically sent to the secret collage lab in Brooklyn to be assembled by me. Once one city is created, another set of artists will be selected to make the next project, and so forth, until the end of days. Once this is done, i’m going to switch to buildings to something else.. so keep an eye on this because it could get really interesting…a lot of amazing artists are lining up to be a part of it.
Connect with Morgan here:
With thanks to Morgan Jesse Lappin for his participation
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