Artist demonstration: how to create a storytelling portrait using collage

Take inspiration from Pop artists who stuck all sorts of pictures and objects onto their artwork. Artist Venessa Scott takes you on a special treasure hunt and shows you how to make a collage portrait that tells your story.


  • Hi, I’m Venessa. I’m an artist, and I’m going to show you how to make a storytelling portrait using collage.

    Portraits aren’t just pictures that look like a person or the person’s face. A lot of them tell a story about the person too.

    Here’s a collage portrait of Sir Peter Blake by artist Clive Barker. Sir Peter Blake is a well-known English pop artist who uses collage and images from popular culture to create his work.

    Collage is a type of art that’s made by gathering different images and objects together and then sticking them down onto a background to make a picture.

    I like to create storytelling portraits using collage.

    If you want to give this a go, all you need is a photograph of yourself, paper, some glue, scissors, and a few items that you can collage with.

    I always start a collage storytelling portrait with a treasure hunt adventure.

    I go on a mission and I try and find lots of things like leaves, stamps, bottle tops, beads, tape, or different materials. All these are great for layering and overlapping into a collage.

    Now, here is a selfie that I printed off. Now, I love big hairstyles, so I’m going to base my portrait on that. I’m going to cut out my hair from this picture so it just leaves my face.

    I’m not going to stick this down just yet because I want to decide what other things, I can use to build my big hair.

    During my treasure hunt, I found some leaves. I also found this colourful fabric. Now, I love colour and I love pattern. And I love how it reminds me of when I was little, when I used to go around market stalls, looking at all the brightly coloured fabric.

    Remember before you cut anything up, check with a grown-up that it is okay to cut up that material first. You can find fabric like this in second hand shops, or maybe ask family members if they’ve got some old clothes that they don’t mind you putting into your portrait.

    Don’t forget to ask an adult for help when using your scissors. And if you don’t have scissors, you can always tear things using your hands.

    On my treasure hunt, I’ve collected everything I want to include in my collage. So my storytelling collage is all about food, and pattern and colour and nature.

    Before you stick anything down, work out where you want it to go. And work out what story you want the collage to tell. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this, it’s all about your story.

    I think I’m happy with where everything is placed, but now comes the tricky bit, sticking it all down. A trick to do this is to glue the face on last.

    So I’m just going to move that out of the way, hold it in place, and then put bits of glue under each section first. And that will keep things in place until I’m ready to finish it off.

    Don’t worry if the materials do move around a little bit. Just take your time. Try not to rush it.

    Real items like these leaves can be quite tricky to glue down. So you could always use some tape. It’s good to give your artwork a shake, to make sure that everything is in place and glued down.

    I’m happy that all of my hair is now in place, and now I’m going to add my face.

    I’d like to add one more piece on top of my face, to help blend the edges between my forehead and my hair.

    And that’s how I create a storytelling portrait using collage.

    Remember, it’s about telling your story, so don't worry about what other people are using in theirs.

    Just have a go and have fun.

Learning objectives

  1. Reflect on who you are and how to tell your story through collage.
  1. Pick up tips from a portrait artist.
  1. Be inspired to collect materials and create a collage portrait.

You will need

  • Paper
  • A photograph of yourself
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Printed or drawn images of objects that help to tell your story