The Art of Making Art: Melanie Deal

Melanie Deal in front of two of her works: “Nuclear Family”, on the left, and “Robot Escape”. Credit: Claire-Brit

Melanie Deal is a longtime Evanston collage and mixed media artist. She works mainly with paper, but also with mixed media, especially when adding highlights or humorous objects. She creates only one work at a time and generally produces eight to 12 a year. Each is unlike any other.

His collages on paper have a very controlled structure and a very creative and playful image. Collage designs have a pronounced grid layout with similar color repeats and often humorous imagery. Deal has fun creating his works and hopes the viewer smiles while looking at them.

Part of Deal’s studio (the dining room of his condo). Credit: Melanie Deal

She creates her art in the dining room of her condo using simple tools that most people could find in their own home, such as scissors, rulers and brushes to apply glue. It also uses a light table and a proportional wheel/scale.

Deal conceived the idea for her art style a long time ago, and she was able to collect a large number of picture books, comics, and paper types to use as source material during her publishing career. She also collects small objects. Trinkets from the gumball machine, food from the dollhouse, and plastic flies are just a small sample of the hundreds of items she’s collected and can select from to create her pictures.

She often takes walks by Lake Michigan and finds it the perfect time to find inspiration for her next creation.

The first stages of a new collage result in an artistic project of the work. She first uses grid paper to create a grid-based image, then selects the papers and objects she will use. Deal finds these two steps to be the most enjoyable parts of his process. The rest of the steps, although time-consuming, she finds the execution of the steps in the plan to be the least challenging.

Cut out parts for use in “Internal Affairs”. Credit: Melanie Deal

She creates some images by hand and others by photocopying an image to create replicas. The FedEx Green Bay Road office is her preferred service because she can drive and photocopy independently at her own pace, reducing the time spent on this part of the process.

Deal uses sturdy, dimensionally stable Gator Board as a support surface for his artwork and works in repetitive steps. She cuts out the individual elements needed and positions and glues them to the board for each step. She applies items in sections and layers and, when finished, places large, heavy books on the work to keep everything flat while drying.

The final “Internal Affairs” collage. Credit: Melanie Deal

She repeats these steps multiple times to complete a multi-layered job, with the most repetitions usually on larger collages and/or those with a greater number of applied elements.

When the collage is finished, Deal decides whether to frame it or not. She sells her art both framed and flat.

Deal is a member of Evanston Made, which she says has been a wonderful way for her to show off her work.

To learn more about his work, visit www.melanie-deal.comor his Evanston Made page at

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