At the age of 15 he started to be keen on images and photos of magazines. Today, with more than ten thousand followers on Instagram, Sammy Slabbinck is in fact a collage and stop animation artist to keep an eye on in the upcoming years. Selecting printed images from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, he adds contemporary elements with humour and satire, challenging and trusting the audience to come up with a story and a state of mind. From Mars to ski resorts, from swimsuits to food, his work is an unrivalled injection of energy.
When was the first time you cut a page of a magazine and saved it?
Around 15 years ago I guess, whilst making covers for mixtapes.
Where do you usually find the vintage images for your collages?
I have been collecting vintage magazines and books for quite a while now. Mostly, I’ve found these at yard sales and flea markets.
Why the obsession with the imagery from 50’s, 60’s and 70’s?
The look and feeling of the images made in that era attracts me. Now everything is digital, so you lose a lot of warmth and soul in printed pictures. A 100.000.000 pixels don’t make for a perfect image, and perfection is boring anyways.
Have you ever thought about using your family photographs in you collages?
No, not really. That would be too personal to share.
Humour and satire are two concepts very present in your work. Are they a reflection of your own personality, or not at all?
I think so. When possible, I try to put some humour in my work. The arts are always quite serious, so why not add something extra, another level of irony, for instance. Irony is also a good tool to reflect on our own behaviour. It can act as a mirror, and hopefully make people think and reflect on things.
Could you describe the process of making a collage? How do you come up with the idea and how long does it usually take to finish it?
Most of the time it starts when I find one picture or a detail in it. These two things can start a process of association. A story unfolds in my head, and you want to translate that story visually by combining images. There is never really a clear idea when I set out to make something. The found images give me ideas and I try to work with them. Unlike a painter who has full control over his painting, you can’t control the content of your pictures when making a collage. Sometimes a collage is made instantly, other times it takes weeks to find the right combination.
A complex simplicity with a reversed context. Is this how you would describe your work?
How my work should be described or perceived is in the hands of the audience, I guess. But I try to make visually challenging images, but not by overdoing it by putting in too many layers. That’s what I meant with a complex simplicity. The images have to work on multiple levels for me to be considered a finished, well made collage.
Behind each layer and each collage you might come up with a fictional story. Is that true?
I would rather hope that my audience would come up with these stories – that they can interact with the image and make an interpretation of the collage. Fantasise about what is going on and make it personal.
How would you describe the relationship you have with your clients?
I get a lot of love from them via social media. It’s a great feeling, it encourages me to be creative and productive.
Tell us more about your relationship with social media.
I started making stop motion animations on Vine two years ago and haven’t stopped since. I mainly make them with found imagery as well. They are like animated collages. Lately I have also started posting these animations on Instagram. But both platforms are ways for me to share my creations with the world, and have provided me with lots of opportunities.
Is the figure of woman the biggest inspiration for you?
The female form has been an inspiration for many generations of artists, and I am no exception. I like to elevate the pictures that I find in vintage men’s magazines to another level. A nude picture from the seventies lacking style or class can suddenly be transformed into a sculpture when put in the right setting. I am not really interested in the pure depiction of beauty or of nudity, it’s when you add certain elements or give the body another function that the overall image can become intriguing. Sometimes showing less makes you see more.
Where can we see you and your work in the next months?
I have an exhibition in London next month with original hand cut collages at the Michael Hoppen Gallery, Jubilee Place 3. It runs from the 1th of December until the 19th.