Improve your Collage Designs With Dadaism - Improve your Collage Designs With Dadaism
Example of mural art influenced by Dadaism.

Unless a picture shocks, it is nothing.

– Marcel Duchamp –

What is Dada?

Contrary to its connotations, Dadaism (or Dada, if you may) is actually an anti-art ideology that sparked within different nations right before World War I started. Not only this cultural movement managed to defy the very definition of what can be considered art, but it also gives an outlook on how people negatively perceived WWI and its impacts on culture. 

Dadaists are known to be radical, unconventional, and unorthodox designers – with their unique photo collages and unusual approaches to typography, lettering, and spacing. Living up to its controversial reputation, most Dadaism pieces are designed to be eye-catching, bizarre, and meant to offend its viewers. This is as Dadaists are collectively voicing out their criticism and protests towards the political trends back then. It is thanks to this exact grim outtake that this movement managed to produce some of history’s most captivating and thought-provoking design pieces.  

Examples of famous Dadaism artworks.
Examples of famous Dadaism artworks. 

Dada’s influence on today’s graphic design trends is undeniably prominent. The cultural movement was acknowledged by many as innovative and ahead of its time; with designers worldwide subconsciously adopting its techniques decades after it was revolutionized. 

If you want to further enrich your knowledge on this avant-garde ideology and improve your design composition skills, here are four simple tricks; 

1. Experiment with typography

How Dadaists experimented with typography.
How Dadaists experimented with typography. 

One notable characteristic of Dadaists is how brazen their choices in typography can be. By modifying and combining different typefaces and letter spacing, how the audience perceives the picture can be altered. Fonts are utilized as a tool for conveying meaning, instead of simply for aesthetics. 

Dadaism manifesto and bulletin clippings.
Dada manifesto and bulletin clippings.

Dadaists are known to strive for the readers’ attention in wanting to look at the texts instead of trying to understand their meaning. As many of their works are used as a manifesto for protests, they often create explosive layouts and attach typographical weight to certain words that have double meanings or ones that simply look “uncanny”. 

2. Collage techniques  

Usage of collage in some famous Dadaism designs.
Usage of collage in some famous Dada designs.

The very foundation of Dadaism is collages. Countless Dada works are composed of press clippings, posters, letters, and many other printed materials meshed up together. The way these collages were constructed is heavily influenced by cubism – in which new works are formed using “disassembled, existing concepts”. Dadaists use collages as a way to display their defiance and disagreement over the rigid standards of art and design back then. 

Though it is quite common now to form collages using train tickets, postcards, or maps; we actually have Dadaists to thank for such a trend. Using everyday objects and incorporating them into their design was something that was very much new and avant-garde for that time period. 

Marcel Duchamp’s readymade pieces.
Marcel Duchamp’s readymade pieces. 

A popular technique born during Dada would be Marcel Duchamp’s readymades; who essentially believed that any man-made objects can be considered works of art. Being the pioneer of this approach, he challenges the very notion of “visual art” by altering and modifying everyday objects that originally had no artistic functions. 

3. Photomontage 

Usage of photomontage technique in many of Dadaism works.
Usage of photomontage technique in many of Dada works.

Pretty self-explanatory based on its name, photomontage is one of the usual techniques adopted by Dadaists which involves “using and recreating images” taken from media prints for their designs. Years before photoshop was the norm, these artists were manipulating images manually using traditional tools such as scissors and glue. Instead of trying to make the images blend into each other seamlessly, they made sure that we can clearly see the traces of photomontages. 

Combinations of collages and photomontages on Dadaism pieces.
Combinations of collages and photomontages on Dada pieces.

This process is their form of protest against the idea of using strictly paintbrushes and canvas in producing artworks. Dadaists see collages and photomontages as an indignant objection to conventional artistic methods and pride themselves for embarking on modernity.

4. Choose your aesthetics

Well-known Dadaism designs.
Well-known Dadaism designs.

Back when the movement was still fresh, there were many active design trends that continuously showed up. However, due to Dadaist’s adamant rejection of design conventions, an entirely new set of aesthetics that is distinctively unique were born in this era. These aesthetics are a culmination of elements from several art movements such as;

  • Cubism
  • Futurism
  • Expressionism
Famous artworks from Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism.
Famous artworks from Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism (from left to right).

One prominent characteristic that all of these art movements share would be how ground-breakingly avant-garde they are considered to be. Hence, living up to this reputation, Dadaists assert their focus on how the artwork, graphic designs, visuals, or poetry can be presented. 

Instead of trying to appeal to the masses, these designers reject common aesthetics to shock and capture the audience’s attention – often generating offense with their compositions. Of course, it is definitely not recommended to offend your audience in this day and age. It would simply be a bad PR move. One takeaway from this unique mindset is to be bold and unafraid in trying out new concepts that other designers may think are “radical” or simply unconventional. Though you won’t always succeed, rest assured that such designs are more likely to captivate your audience, and that you can always look back to other art movements and incorporate certain design elements from them into your works. 

How to incorporate them into your designs?

Designer’s process to incorporate Dadaism elements into designs.

Now that you have the necessary knowledge, it is time to start experimenting! What better way to improve your collage designs than to learn from dadaists? Their distinctive collage patterns are without a doubt a marvel to look at – simply let it be your muse and you may come up with your very own exceptional designs!

Collage patterns can actually be used for a variety of design projects such as; packaging design, branding, prints, logo designs, and many more. 

Ways that you can spice up your collage designs would be as follows;

  1. Include various textured patterns (eg. paint splatters, blobs, scribbles, and stripes).
  2. Combining paper or background textures (ie. torn, crumpled, smooth, etc)
  3. Distinct colors (ie. play around with different types of textured colors or paints)

This would definitely make all your digital artwork stand out from the crowd.  

One of the best graphic design tool - Designmaker by
Designmaker’s logo. (Source:

Luckily, with Designmaker, you have all these aforementioned graphic elements ready for your disposal! From simple graphics to intricate illustrations, you are free to use them all. 

Here are some Designmaker’s graphic elements and backgrounds to help you incorporate Dadaism elements into your designs:

Designmaker's graphic elements to incorporate Dadaism into your designs.
Graphic elements to incorporate into your designs. (Source: Designmaker)
Designmaker's textured backgrounds to incorporate into your designs.
Sample of textured backgrounds. (Source: Designmaker)

Not only that, our all-in-one creative platform has also a background removal tool; perfect for creating collages and digital “cut-outs” for all your composition needs. Say no more to long searches of external software or sites that offer you this feature, for we have it all within Designmaker

Designmaker’s image background removal feature.
Designmaker’s image background removal feature. (Source: Designmaker)

There’s no denying that Dada has left a deep impact on the world of both art and graphic design today. Whether you realize it or not, lots of design trends today (especially in collage compositions) originated from this memorable cultural movement. 

Hence, there’s not a moment to lose; kickstart your collage design journey now on Designmaker and see just how revolutionary your composition can get! 


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