Titles in order shown:
The Popsicle Queen, magazine on drawing paper, washi tape and glitter, 11in x 14in
Twilight Heartthrob, magazine and washi tape on cardboard, 11in x 14in
Natalie, magazine on scrapbook paper, 11in x 14in
Flower Girl 1, magazine on scrapbook paper and washi tape, 11in x 14 in
Flower Girl 2, magazine on scrapbook paper and washi tape, 11in x 14 in
Michelle, magazine on drawing paper and washi tape, 11in x 14in
"Something New": An Interview with Shane Allison by Kelly Butler
Kelly Butler: You recently moved back to Tallahassee from New York. Tell us about your time there.
Shane Allison: I went to New York to do two things: grad school and to be a writer for entertainment magazines. This was from 2001 to 2003. I applied to the MFA Creative Writing programs at Brooklyn College and The New School. I got into both, and chose The New School because David Trinidad and Sapphire were teaching there at the time. I really just wanted to get out of the south and out of Tallahassee. I had always dreamed of living in either New York or Los Angeles. I decided I wanted to major in Film when I was a freshman in college. I loved movies and actors, so it made since. But I had been writing poetry all through high school, reading everything I could get my hands on. I loved to write. Poetry was my first love, and always will be. At some point I changed my major from Film to Creative Writing. I figured I loved to write, so why not? I had a blast in New York. When I wasn’t writing and going to class, I was always at poetry readings and bookstores. I got too caught up in bar-hopping before I realized the lease on my apartment was running out. I couldn’t find a job, so I had to come back home. That was devastating for me. I loved the city. New York is a great place to be an artist. I came back here, wrote my first poetry collection, Slut Machine (Rebel Satori Press), and two novels, You’re The One I Want and Harm Done (Strebor Books). I still think about New York every day.
KB: You’re an artist of many mediums: poetry, fiction, drawing, collage, etc. How do those different energies talk to one another, if at all? And what is it about collage that keeps calling?
SA: When I remember doing collages, it didn’t feel like art. I write in longhand, so I’m big on journals and notebooks. I have tons of them. I would decorate the covers with papers I would find on the street. I have one where the cover is decorated with candy wrappers. I had no idea I was collaging until I was introduced to an artist and writer by the name of Joe Brainard. His collages are amazing. Unlike writing, there are no rules to collage. It’s very freeing in that sense. I have created pieces that become illustrations to my poems. Like writing, my idea for a collage is ravenous. I would work on five different poems at a time. I approach collages much in the same way.
KB: Tell us about the process of deconstructing and reconstructing some of these faces.
SA: For me, when I cut an image out of a book or magazine, it immediately becomes something new. It takes on its own meaning from its original place. I’ve always enjoyed writing about pop culture, so to put that in here just makes since. I love playing with lines and texture. I love the idea of reconstructing images to create something odd and cool. My idea here is to juxtapose beauty with little rips and pieces of reality.
KB: The abstract pieces appear more like the product of building instead of deconstructing. One looks as if rolls of tape are smothering one another. What was the idea behind that?
SA: Tape to me is like skin. The way it peels and folds. I have many collages where I use duct and cable tape. It feels so final when you put it down, but it isn’t. I think of using it as if I’m creating an alternate world.
KB: What are your go-to sources for raw material? Are they esoteric or widely accessible? Why?
SA: I mostly use magazines that I get from the library. If I see an image I really dig, I’ve gone in bookstores, perused through mags, and have ripped pages out. I just have to have it. A friend sent me two big boxes of old porn mags, so working with those images has been a shit load of fun. Of course I can’t post those on Instagram.
KB: What do you most want viewers to understand from your work?
SA: Look deeper. Always look deeper.
KB: What’s next for you?
SA: Well, I’m working on a showing of my work. I’ve been talking to other artists about how I could make it happen. I don’t know a place in Tally where I can do that, but that’s the direction I want to take this. I have stacks of portfolios. I want to keep doing this for as long as I can.
Shane Allison first began doing collages back in 2001 before he knew collage was an art form. He began decorating his notebooks with found papers and candy wrappers. Since then, he has taken the art of collage from his notebooks to canvas. His work has appeared at Unlikely Stories as well as a plethora of his poetry. His work can be found on Instagram with the handle @Shaneallison2400.