Aileen Frick began her professional career as an engineer, but on a search for a creative outlet, she enrolled in an art class. Initially, that class was just about learning the art of oil painting, but one day her teacher threw a curveball at the class––they were going to try their hands at collage art.

For Aileen, this was foreign territory, but she immediately took to it. She found it afforded her an added layer of storytelling she felt her oil paintings lacked. Her teacher couldn’t agree more. She encouraged Aileen to produce a body of work and start showing it in galleries. Aileen began piecing together what would quickly become her new full-time career.

Her art took off and so did her spirit. She quickly found this style of art seemed to flow through her naturally and it was only a matter of time before she progressed to higher caliber art shows and galleries. And while she may not fully utilize her engineering skills, Aileen has found the attention to detail and focus needed for collage art has benefited from her engineering brain.

Aileen answered a few other questions about this intriguing medium and how she uses it (or rather it uses her). Read on for more.

Why did you choose this medium?

I was taking an oil painting class and the teacher brought in paper one day and said we were going to collage. She basically told us we’re going to tear paper, glue it down, coat it with matte medium, and then paint on top. That was the first time doing collage and I loved it.

My teacher saw my first piece, pulled me aside and said, ‘You need to go to a gallery.’ So, I kept doing it then started showing it…and then it just took off.

I always felt my oil paintings were missing something and the collage brought out another story and meaning to each piece.

What challenges you most about this medium?

Sometimes, the challenge is finding enough color. For instance, if I’m doing a big park scene and there’s a lot of greens, I pick through my magazines of a certain color and that can take a lot of time.

Also, the physicality of it. I work on the floor and my hips aren’t appreciating that anymore!

What do you love most about this medium?

The uncontrolled story. That’s the mysterious part of my work. I base my work on things that I see. So, I’ll take a picture with my cell phone and recreate a moment. What ends up coming from the collage and the imagery is a bigger story and I am just the facilitator of it. I’m not forcing a story, and how that unfolds to me is magic. I’m doing the work, but it’s a message coming through me.

How are you using this medium that might be different from most?

I think the storytelling. I’m not interjecting myself. I let each piece tell me the story rather than telling a story with the pieces. I’m not a wordsmith so I’m not using the medium to tell you what to think, I’m letting the medium tell me what it wants. Sometimes I feel like my art is my medium and by that, I don’t mean acrylic and oil and collage, but almost like I’m a medium for what I do. I’m allowing it to come through and say, whatever it needs to say.