My work is a loose collection of thoughts and observations in many ways and less about one specific theme. I see it as a reflection of the world we live in, with all its ugliness and cruelty. But from that, I strive to extract the beauty and empathy hidden underneath and within us all, revealing the unknown, the unspoken and intangible things that make us truly human. For me, collage as a medium replicates this frenetic and inherent collision of people, culture, and emotions we all experience. I believe the true meaning of my work is derived directly from the intertwining of these associations, and the spontaneity of my creative process. This gives my work the freedom to live creatively in the moment, and the ability to respond to current events, despite my imagery being derived primarily from vintage magazines.

Original Art by Charles Wilkin


I was born in Buffalo, New York and relocated to New York City in June of 2001, I now live and work in the Catskills. My collage and mixed media work has been featured in many contemporary fine art and street art magazines, including: Kolaj Magazine, Juxtapoz, Rojo and Metropolis. I’ve exhibited regularly across the U.S. and participated in many group shows globally and co-curate collage exhibitions for The International Weird Collage Show. In 2003, German publisher Gestalten released my first monograph Index-A which has become a much-referenced source of inspiration for contemporary collage artists. My work is also part of the permanent collections at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg Germany and The Library of Congress in Washington, DC. In 2003 I was nominated for a Copper-Hewitt National Communication Design Award. I’ve lectured at Parsons School of Design, Savannah School of Art and briefly taught at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio where I received my BFA in 1992. In addition to art making, I’m always looking for danger, keep bees and run a 2 Queens Coffee Roasters with my husband Martin Higgins.

Original Art by Charles Wilkin

How has your relationship with art changed over time?

I’d say my relationship with art has never changed but my work has certainly evolved over the years. When I started making collages in the late 80’s I was just interested in making something raw and unfiltered. I wanted to be free from expectations and traditional art-making rules. This is what drew me to collage initially, and I’ve always enjoyed the spontaneity this medium provides. This element of excitement and the joy of making something out of nothing has never changed. It’s the one constant that can be found through my work, becoming the foundation for all my creative endeavors. However, over time my work has evolved into something more complex conceptually and visually. I’ve created more rules these days. I think this is the result of working in one medium for so long and constantly exploring it from every angle. I’m always pushing myself to go further, looking for new ideas while at the same time refining my voice creatively.  

Where do you find inspiration? What drives your work?

For me, inspiration is everywhere! It’s hard not to see a collage in a room full of people, a bouquet of flowers, or bags of trash on the street. I find random conversations with people to be an incredible source of inspiration, and traveling too. Collage is great at replicating the chaotic and frenetic world we live in with inherent collision of people, culture, and emotions. I often feel like it’s part of my job as an artist to be a sponge, soaking it all up, distilling it, and then reimagining those new ideas within my work. This process is a huge part of what drives my work, but I think it’s also motivated by my innate desire to transform the ugliness all around us into something beautiful.

Original Art by Charles Wilkin

What is your favorite part of your process?

My favorite part of creating work is not knowing where I’m going until I get there, it’s also the most terrifying part for sure. I’ve tried many times to plan ahead, sorting through and revising my ideas prior to beginning. This more traditional approach to making work has honestly never worked out for me. I’ve found that I enjoy and thrive in the unknown, the mistakes, and working through an idea as I go. The spontaneity gives me the ability to live in the moment and create work free from anything preconceived. The mistakes and unexpected discoveries are truly the best part. Sure, it can be stressful, but I’ve learned how to work through the moments. I think this process has helped remove the fear of failure and pushed my work forward faster.  

What is one thing about your art and/or practice that our audience may not know?

I think despite having a rather spontaneous, undefined process there is often a sudden sense of quiet and calmness at the very end. It’s the moment when all the struggles reveal an answer or meaning, this is also how I know a piece is done. I like to think the mystery or beauty within in my work comes from this process.

Original Art by Charles Wilkin
Charles Wilkin