Difference Between Mixed Media Art and Collage – Is Collage Mixed Media?

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Is Collage Mixed Media?

In one way the difference is very simple: collage is a specific technique that can be used on its own or within a mixed media piece. So a mixed media piece might combine collage with acrylic/ink/charcoal. A collage would become a mixed media piece when other media were added. From the Cambridge English dictionary:
( the art of making) a picture in which various materials or objects, for example paper, cloth, or photographs, are stuck onto a larger surface
Maybe it’s a collage of magazine and fabric then details are added in oil pastel and it becomes a mixed media piece.

I love to use collage within mixed media pieces. Here are a few from my art journal:

Mixed Media Collage Examples


Some of the mixed media collage ideas in the above images include:

  • Using collage as a simple background using torn papers and painting on top of this
  • Adding collaged focal images to an acrylic background
  • Creating focal images via careful cutting and collaging of patterned papers and combining with a textured background
  • Collaging with recycled wrapping paper and painting on top
  • Collaging sewn papers over distress ink backgrounds
  • Collaging home cut/die cut embellishments on an ink background
There are so many more mixed media collage ideas and I would love to hear about any you have used.

However, the Tate Gallery, U.K. states that painting/drawing can be included in a collage so it would seem that there is somewhat of an overlap across mixed media – collage. Personally, I feel that once you have added other media such as ink/paint/pastel to collage then you have a mixed media piece.

Mixed Media in the Past

Although mixed media as a style is enjoying great popularity at the moment, it is not a modern phenomenon. Artists have been mixing media for centuries. Here are some examples from mixed media collage artists in the past:
  1. ‘The Witch Ankarut’ was painted in watercolour and ink around 1577 by unknown.
  2. ‘Chinese Lions’ was painted in the Momoyama style in ink and gold around 1580 -85.
  3. ‘The Kiss’ was painted by Gustav Klimt in oil and gold leaf around 1907.
  4. ‘Blue Poles’ was painted by Jackson Pollock in enamel, paint and glass in 1952
  5. ‘Camels’ was painted by Rivers in collage and oil in 1962.


Collage in the past

Collage itself has been around since the 12 Century. It is seen in the Cubist’s work and famously Matisse’s paper-cutting in his latter years.

Making of a Collage with Mixed Media Additions

Mixed media with Collage art journal page Having stamped on my tissue paper first I then applied this as if it were any other collage paper. I resisted adding any other media elements to make this as pure a collage as possible.

I hope this post helps to explain mixed media collage for beginners and that it inspires you to try pushing the boundaries of what is pure collage and what is mixed media collage.

Hugs, Ceri xx

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