Day 27 of #100daysofprototypa

UBC Library’s Open Collections are often used for research, which is why we were intrigued to discover that designer and artist Jean-Charles Amey uses images found in open source collections to create original artwork.
Based in Reims, France, Amey uses images found in open source collections such as the New York Public Library’s digital collections, Unsplash, and UBC Library’s Open Collections in a design challenge on instagram called #100daysofprototypa. The images are a beautiful marriage of collage and photography reminiscent of Matisse’s cut-outs.
We chatted with Amey about the inspiration behind the project, his artistic process, and how he discovered our Open Collections.
How long have you been an artist? What kind of projects do you work on?
I have been working on various design experiences and projects for nine years. After a Master’s in Product Design, I started to work as assistant with Pierre Charpin and Robert Stadler. Both work on the border where art and design meet. I had the chance to work on various projects from limited editions to larger scale production and have been thrilled by these experiences of creating and thinking in small studios. Since 2013, I have been concentrating on my own practice and studio in Reims, France. 

Jean-Charles Amey

What is the 100-Day Project ?
The 100-Day Project was relaunched on the internet, mainly through instragram, by the artist and illustator Elle Luna in 2014, but it goes back to a Yale School of Art Workshop lead by Michael Bierut, where students are asked to choose an action and repeat it for 100 days.
Last year, with #100daysofpois I joined the experience for the first time. Today, after undertaking it a second time, I feel the 100-Day Project is a sort of medium — producing small personal things everyday changes you. I like to compare the 100-Day project to a meditation; you enter into a creative challenge with yourself and explore it. Personally, it has been a way to connect some serious reflections with more lightness. Creativity is an everyday challenge.
What inspired you to launch your #100daysofprototypa project?
My quest is to create objects with spirit while reducing my computer work time and regain creative autonomy. I am exploring a way to imagine new experiences with objects, furniture and space using nothing but scissors, paper and a camera.

Day 34 of #100daysofprototypa

Can you tell us a little about the medium you use for  #100daysofprototypa?
By creating these colorful collages, I feel like I’m on a walk with Kurt Schwitters, Paul Rand and Matisse but also with contemporary artist like George Byrne, Takuro Kishibe or Julie Hamilton. It’s such a pleasing moment to take scissors, colors and create a first impression of reality. 
How do you create your prototypa?
First, I collect colours. They arrive at my atelier through magazines, old books, ads, catalogs. They are so diverse that they need to be collected and arranged by size and pattern. Next, I collect images of strong or ambigous gestures that could tell a story. They mostly come from open source collections like UBC Library’s. Unlike the colours, I don’t put the gestures in any kind of order. I put them in a box and stare at them when I start a new prototypa. And so everyday, I pick the one that inspires me the most.

Day 24 of #100daysofprototypa

How did you discover UBC Library’s Open Collections?
I discovered UBC Library’s Open Collections when I was doing a project on ex-libris (bookplates). I was curious about the past of bookplates and a search on Flickr led me to various digitized collections. I was amazed that libraries were considering bookplates as interesting as the others visual elements of a book. They tend to be created after the book is made and symbolize the meeting of a reader and a book at a certain time and space. Perhaps that’s why there is such diversity of forms and story in them.
Explore more than 210,000 digital objects on UBC’s Open Collections.
Are you using materials from our Open Collections in your work, research or art? Let us know! Get in touch at

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