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DIY Craft Tutorial: How to Make an Interesting Photo Collage

Updated on October 12, 2017
purl3agony profile image

As an artist and homeowner, Donna enjoys creating unique decorative items and holiday ornaments to welcome all to her artistic abode.

postcards and photos are used to make a collage  (c) purl3agony 2012
postcards and photos are used to make a collage (c) purl3agony 2012

Recently I was looking for an easy and (let's be honest) relatively cheap way to add some artwork to my office/studio walls. I remembered that I had a pile of art postcards and exhibition announcements that I had collected over the years. A few hours later - with two poster frames and lots of placing and reconfiguring - I had two new collages to put on my wall.

(c) purl3agony 2012
(c) purl3agony 2012

My Materials

I've had these poster frames for years, but you can buy them at most big box department stores or craft stores (mine are from IKEA). With a little searching, you should be able to find them for less than $10 each. My frames are not fancy - there's no glass, just thick acetate in a plain pine frame. But the simplicity helps to focus all the attention on what's in the frame :) And I just used the paper insert from the frame for the backing of my collage.

As I said, I used my collection of art exhibition postcards, but you could use any photos, cards, drawings, or even images from magazines that you want. I particularly chose things that I liked and was inspired by.

Getting Started

My first step was to separate my cards into three piles, knowing that I wouldn't use all of them. The first pile was images that I definitely wanted to use in my collage. The second pile had things I might use or I might not, and the third pile was stuff that I wasn't particularly interested in using.

Taking the first two piles, I started placing images down on my backing sheet to create my collage. At this point, I didn't want to adhere the images in place. A collage is like a jigsaw puzzle - you need to move things around to find the right place for each photo, and then fit them all together.

use an interesting composition to make a collage  (c) purl3agony 2012
use an interesting composition to make a collage (c) purl3agony 2012


I would suggest not putting too much of the same color together and varying the size of the images throughout the collage. I tried to balance the composition of my collage - if I put a large horizontal image on the bottom right, then I put a vertical photo in the top left. I also put pictures that I thought made an interesting contrast next to each other, so there would always be something to find, consider, and thinking about in the mix.

Putting a Collage Together

Once I was happy with my arrangement, I took a quick photo of it for reference. Then I carefully started lifting my images from the cardboard backing and sticking them down on the paper insert one by one into the finished configuration. However, I wanted to preserve my cards and didn't want to permanently glue them down, so I used Scotch brand clear mounting squares for positioning the images. For the most part, I was able to cut these mounting squares in two and only use a small piece in the two upper corners of each card to hold it in place. I was careful that each card was straight as I placed it down and I thought about where I wanted and didn't want any overlapping.

The hardest part was placing the acetate over the collage and putting the frame on without shifting any of the images. It took a few tries but it was worth it to make sure everything stayed in place and looked straight.

I really like the completed collages - they're colorful and look great on my wall. And each image reminds me of an event, an artist, or something that captured my imagination and made me smile.

photo collages are an easy way to create inexpensive wall art  (c) purl3agony 2012
photo collages are an easy way to create inexpensive wall art (c) purl3agony 2012

Next time you're looking for some new wall art, look around. I'm sure you have some photos, mementos, and collections that would make a great collage!


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