From old notes, library books, stamps and even bus tickets, Sasha Martinez’s collages epitomize the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Sometimes, you don’t have to look far; all it takes is just one glance at your pile of forgotten paraphernalia.
Visual reminders: curated pieces are plastered on Sasha’s wall, waiting to be used.
Sasha is a 27-year-old full time artist that works and collects pre-loved objects and ephemera for her collages. A lot has changed since she began dabbling in traditional collage at the age of 18. Through posting her work online, she found like-minded people who also collected old items like typewriters and books. Some even became her pen pals. In their typewritten letters, they would also exchange little artifacts that she would eventually incorporate in her work.
In her element: Sasha prefers the old school method of cut-and-paste.
Working with these objects comes with a lot of risk; once you’ve cut them up there is no undo button. Even then, she still prefers it over digital collage making as there is a rarity to the pieces she collects. They add grit, texture, and personality to an otherwise flat collage. Every image or object she selects for each piece has its own story. In a way, she combines these stories, and transforms them into their own.
We hung out with Sasha at her place to discuss work, her friends’ support in her art, and the importance of risk in making collages.
Show and tell: A spread from one of Sasha’s many journals.
What materials do you usually look for in order to make your collages?
I have a lot of botanical books and books about birds. I’ve always wanted to work with old photographs. For some reason having old photos of people work because they are less perfect. I like old paintings, old illustrations and books that anthologize works of a photographer. Right now, I have a stack of them and alagang alaga ko.
I have a lot of old stamps and old stuff. Basically, just a lot of paper. Again, kalat. It’s just really kalat. For example, I’m working on watercolors. You have to choose what kind of paper is best for the paint and water. Sometimes it doesn’t work, decide that I’m just going to recycle them.
Within reach: stacks of old books and stamps can be found in Sasha’s workspace.
When it comes to rare images, finding a duplicate of the same piece is always exciting.
Do you prefer pre-loved materials over those that are readily available online or store-bought?
There’s a satisfaction to it. You sit down, do your art and that’s work, but part of the work is having to look for it. We were talking about how a lot of stationery are made to look vintage but they don’t look the same. Again, it comes back to risk. If I buy ready-made things from the store, and I mess up, I can buy another one and do it again.
One way ticket: Sasha would collect bus tickets from her daily commute to work.
What’s the most interesting or unlikely item you’ve used to make a collage?
It always surprises me. In my old job, I commuted along EDSA everyday for three to four hours. So, I just started collecting all of the tickets that I got. I just found it in my wallet and thought “Might as well. Papel ka naman magagamit ka.” I thought that it could be a background for something.
Truth through art: A spread showing Sasha’s contemporary take on the situation of social media.
Are there any other artists doing something similar?
A lot of them work digitally. I really like Maine Manalansan and Reese Lansangan’s work. I haven’t really found someone whose collage work runs along these lines. I think that’s also why I like Instagram a lot because it has introduced me to all kinds of art and artists. it’s all a matter of tempering how much of their work will inform your work and how much of it, dapat kasi at the end of the day it’s still you. That’s how double-edged social media is, you get a lot of inspiration pero there’s a lot of thievery that abounds, be it deliberately or not.