Collage Artist Upcycles Paper Scraps into Custom Creations

Laura Shabazz transforms ripped bits of magazines into masterpieces.

Laura Shabazz

Laura Shabazz creates pieces like The Red Umbrella from tiny bits of hand-torn paper. Courtesy of Laura Shabazz

At first glance, one might think the colorful artwork of Laura Shabazz is created from conventional paint, ink or digital manipulation. But upon closer inspection, viewers discover that the Bernardsville artist makes her representational collages exclusively from bits of pages torn from magazines and books. 

Shabazz, 43, is self-taught in upcycled paper media. She studied interior design at Parsons School of Design, earned an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Columbia University, and tried her hand at music and other creative pursuits before she began cutting and pasting.

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Her love of collage art was sparked in 2009, when she found a large stack of discarded magazines in the basement of her Union City condo. “I was looking for a way to express my creativity without spending a lot of money on art supplies, so recycling magazines as part of my art made sense.” In 2015, she joined an artists’ network, and since then has shown her work in galleries and taught small classes.

Shabazz has perfected her craft, rarely using scissors; she believes that ripped edges enhance her work. “I prefer high-quality, non-glossy magazine paper imprinted with diverse colors and patterns.” Favorites include O the Oprah Magazine, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair, Elle Decor and Vogue. “Friends,” she says, “give me their back issues.”

Armed with her glue stick, Shabazz works 10–20 hours a week at her art. “I don’t think I’m very good at drawing or painting, but collaging is my thing,” Shabazz says. “Each finished product is a one-of-a-kind improvisation that can’t be recreated, even if I wanted to make the same thing again.”

The artist’s original works, prints and custom commissions are available at laurashabazz.com. 

“These days,” she says, “I encourage others to seek out new ways to express their creativity.”

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