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Inside the Studio: Leah

Leah Flanagan's journey as an artist took a pivotal turn during the pandemic, transforming challenges into opportunities and igniting a passion that led to the establishment of her business, Flanzella. With a background in multimedia and digital art, Leah seamlessly transitioned into traditional collage, creating intricate and thought-provoking pieces characterized by humor, irony, and introspection. Drawing from vintage magazines, her collages tell compelling stories that captivate audiences. In this exclusive interview, Leah shares insights into her creative process, the impact of her digital media background, and the role her dedicated community of "Flanz Fanz" plays in her artistic evolution. She also offers invaluable advice for aspiring artists looking to turn their hobby into a successful career.

Leah Flanagan in Studio

Read on to learn more in an exclusive interview with Leah Flanagan :


1.How did the pandemic impact your journey as a collage artist and the development of Flanzella?

I have always been an artist, but I officially registered Flanzella as a business in October 2019, with the aspiration of becoming a full-time artist. The pandemic significantly impacted my journey. I transitioned from working long hours with limited time for my art to being unemployed with ample time to devote to my craft. Although the period of unemployment was brief, it ignited a persistent drive in me to return to that phase of my life. I discovered how much happier I was living a simple life focused on cooking, gardening, creating art, and building my business.

The Myth of Chasing Hearts

2. Can you describe your process of creating collages from vintage magazines and the stories behind some of your favorite pieces?

Certainly. My creative process begins with the vintage magazines themselves, allowing them to guide and inspire my work. I look for images that juxtapose interestingly or have complementary colors. For instance, in "The Myth of Chasing Hearts," the gleaming light over a mountainous background inspired me to incorporate a "godly" figure. The addition of a red Instagram "like" icon then brought a modern twist and deeper meaning to the piece.

In "Soiree Snooze," I envisioned something emerging from a pool. When I found an image of a woman in a striped shirt that matched the terracotta brown of the ground, I knew they belonged together. This combination conveyed the relatable feeling of being tired at a party, adding a humorous touch to the work.

Soiree Snooze

3. How has your background in multimedia and digital art influenced your traditional collage work?

My background in digital media has deeply influenced my appreciation for traditional collage techniques. Digital creation has become so flexible and easy, allowing for infinite manipulations. In contrast, working with paper is limiting and feels like solving a puzzle, which I find more challenging and rewarding. Additionally, in a technology-driven world, engaging in a hands-on activity away from screens is incredibly therapeutic. That said, I might revisit integrating vintage magazine images into digital art when I no longer spend most of my time in front of a screen for my other job.

Leah Flanagan's Studio

4. What role does humor play in your art, and how do you incorporate it into your collages?

Humor is a fundamental aspect of my art. I strive to incorporate whimsical or ironic elements into my collages, often through unexpected juxtapositions or playful imagery. This approach not only makes my work more engaging but also invites viewers to find their own interpretations and connections within the pieces. When I'm sad, I always look to humor and thrifting to cheer me up. So, it is no surprise I incorporate these two interests into my art.


5. Can you share an experience or collaboration that significantly impacted your artistic career?

In August 2020, a friend and I organized an art exhibition titled "OURS." We aimed to create a home-like atmosphere in the gallery with a couch, house plants, and an expansive gallery wall. The event was a success; we nearly sold out all our originals and made a substantial amount of money, enabling us to focus more on our art careers. At this time, I needed external validation from an audience to show my work was worthy of turning into a profession. Without this show, I may have never believed in myself to pursue this as a career.

6. How do you engage with your "Flanz Fanz" and what role do they play in your creative process?

My "Flanz Fanz" are highly engaged in my creative process. I manage a Discord channel called Flanzella's Collage Club, where members can share their work and receive community feedback. Additionally, I document and share my creative process on YouTube, receiving valuable comments and suggestions from viewers. As a self-taught artist, this feedback is invaluable for my growth and development.

7. What techniques and tools are essential in your collage-making process?

A common debate in the collage community is between using scissors or a craft knife. I prefer scissors due to my lifelong familiarity with them, dating back to childhood when knives were off-limits. Essential materials include acid-free paper and glue to prevent yellowing over time, and I also use a protective UV spray. Other crucial tools are a paper cutter, a puzzle organizer for storing paper pieces, a brayer to eliminate bubbles, and a filing system for finished artworks. I collaborate with an antique dealer to source unique magazines, which is a key part of my process.

Leah Flanagan in Studio

8. What advice would you give to aspiring artists who want to turn their hobby into a successful business?

An overnight success typically takes ten years. While some artists may achieve quick success, becoming an artist generally requires immense self-worth, patience, creative energy, and a relentless passion for learning. If you aspire to be an artist, start now, as it may take over a decade to achieve your breakthrough.

Develop your art style thoroughly before focusing on social media and promotion. Many beginners spend too much time on self-promotion instead of honing their craft. Remember, you are an artist first and foremost. Reflecting on my journey, now close to the five-year mark, I can see that the significant effort invested in learning and creating has been crucial to my progress, even as I continue to pursue my art part-time.

Leah Flanagan

Leah Flanagan's journey as a collage artist is a testament to the power of creativity, resilience, and the pursuit of one's passion. From the early days of Flanzella to her thriving community of "Flanz Fanz," Leah's art continues to inspire and engage. Her unique approach to collage, blending vintage aesthetics with modern humor, showcases her talent and dedication. As she continues to explore new mediums and push the boundaries of her craft, Leah remains a shining example of what can be achieved when one follows their artistic dreams with unwavering determination. Keep an eye on Flanzella for more whimsical, thought-provoking, and beautifully crafted pieces that capture the essence of Leah's artistic vision.


You can learn more about Leah Flanagan and her work via these links: Website: Instagram: @flanzella Youtube:


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