The Daily Heller: Absolutely No AI Was Used During the Making of This Imagery (Yet)

Posted inThe Daily Heller

If you’re a collage artist, you may be excited about or dreading what artificial intelligence has in store for the future. I am very fond of collage in various person-made styles. So I guarantee that the work on this page is 100-percent hand-driven, for now. These creations are the current passion of former magazine art director Louis Fishauf, who lives in Kettleby, a small rural village about 40 miles north of Toronto.

Fishauf started his editorial career shortly after graduating from art college in 1972. For the next 10 years he worked as a designer and art director for a succession of weekly and monthly publications. Wanting to expand the scope of his work, in 1982 he co-founded Reactor Art + Design with artist rep Bill Grigsby; he was creative director for 13 years. At Reactor Fishauf worked on projects for a variety of retail, tech and institutional clients, often utilizing the talents of Reactor’s stable of illustrators, as well as continuing to work on editorial projects.

In 1995, tired of the managerial responsibilities of running a studio and wanting to get back to hands-on design work, he left Reactor and began a freelance career as a consulting creative director for a few long-term clients, as well as designing projects for Adobe, Canada Post and others.

In 2009 Fishauf became art director of Global Brief magazine (tagline: “World Affairs in the 21st Century”), through 2020 when the pandemic caused the magazine to go on hiatus.

He still does the occasional design or illustration project, but his main creative outlet these days is collage work—which he discusses below.

This is by no means a backhanded critique, but as an art director you wielded some power on the editorial design world. Why give that up?
The magazine industry in Canada is much smaller than in the U.S. After four years as AD for Saturday Night (one of the oldest and most respected Canadian publications, now sadly defunct), I didn’t see too many exciting opportunities remaining for me in Canada’s editorial world.

How would you describe the manner and style of your work?
I have dabbled in the collage medium since the early ’80s when I began playing with the then-new color Xerox copier. I was an early adopter of digital design tools and became an expert using both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. In Photoshop I found the ultimate collage tool, allowing me to resize and reuse visual assets and use transparency, motion blur and other effects not possible with traditional collage.

What do you prefer to tackle as your most satisfying subjects?
The content of my collages reflects my own taste and interests and includes comics, tattoo art, pulp and sci-fi, vintage advertising and photos, renaissance painting and engraving, etc.

The color of the work is so crisp, clear and fluorescent—how do you achieve this?
I’ve always leaned toward a bright primary color palette in my work. Photoshop allows me to adjust the brightness, contrast, hue and saturation in all the visual assets I incorporate in my collages.

Is there something that you want to use collage to say to your audience?
I wish I could say that there’s some overarching message in my collages, but the truth is I just enjoy bringing disparate visual elements together. Some of my collages may appear to tell a story for the viewer to decipher, but mostly it’s just stream-of-consciousness juxtapositions of my preferred imagery. I usually start with a single element or image that resonates with me for whatever reason. I then dip into the large collection of scans and clips that I’ve been collecting for decades. I have one enormous .PSD file (about 900 MB) where I paste any interesting visual elements that I might come across (see detail below). When looking for additional elements for a collage I’ll often just open this file and I usually find something that I think will work. I rarely start out with a set idea of what I’m going to do, but just let the collage reveal itself through the process of adding and deleting various elements.

Have you expanded the medium as far as it can go for you, or is there still more to explore?
The advent of generative AI tools like Midjourney, Dall-E and especially Adobe Firefly opens up new horizons in image-creation and collage. I’ve just begun to include AI-generated elements in some of my collages, but I expect this is an area I will continue to explore.