Ted Tollefson – Chicago, Illinois

Map of the Human Body

“Map of the Human Body,” Collage on Book Cover – 8.5 in. x 11 in. – 2013

Briefly describe the work that you do.

My work is done entirely with cut and paste collage. I collect old papers, magazines, images, antique photos, maps, coasters, street trash and whatever else I can find and repurpose it into art. Every piece is made depending on the materials I can find, creating a diverse range in my works. One piece can have precise and intricate cuts, while the other can have torn and glued paper fragments.

At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?

I have wanted to be a artist ever since I was 7 years old, when my grandma taught me to paint and have become a more serious artist over the past couple years. I have been doing graphic design as a profession for almost nine years and decided to get back into traditional art a few years ago, painting, drawing and then collage. A friend and I started off making collage by doing mail art. We would each make starts for each and finish through the mail, he being in Minneapolis and I was living in Omaha at the time.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I have a diverse background in art since childhood. Practicing art in all different mediums, as well as graphic design, has shaped and molded me into the artist I am today. In college I had the opportunity to take various art instruction courses giving the knowledge needed to not be afraid to incorporate other mediums into my college. Also, as a child I would make huge collages on the walls of my bedroom, from wrestling magazines, which I had collected. There never was a bare spot on the wall and my parents would just shake their head and say, “thats Teddy for you.”

 Non Sex Appeal

“Non Sex Appeal” Collage with cigarette butts on book cover – 10.5 in. x 11.75 in. – 2013

What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?

Media has a huge influence of the conceptual part of each piece. This is what creates such a variety in my works and work styles as it depends on what materials I have found and what is available at the time. I always try to play with different concepts, techniques and experiments to get different results. Collage is the same as any other medium it can be applied and manipulated in different ways to get different results. I think I have done more failed experiments than successful, but it’s all part of the process.

Family Photo

“Family Photo,” Decollage with overlaid photos – 6.75 in. x 5 in. 2013

We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?

I have a deep respect for Chuck Close and have been a fan for years. I totally agree with his idea, being a artist is very time consuming and a there is more to it than just the production. I most certainly have to put in studio time daily and when I’m not making art, I am thinking about art. I spend a lot of time just good ole fashioned, thinking. Most of my thinking is when I lay down to go t sleep. I just can’t seem to shut off the brain, making it a perfect time to think and conceptualize mentally. Honestly, I think every art class should start out with thinking and planning in your head.

What artists living or non-living influence your work?

Man Ray has had a big influence on me personally. When I started college I wanted to take my art into a different direction and struggled with it very much at first. I was watching Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant Garde with a friend over a couple beers one night. While he was being interviewed he was asked, how does he make his art original? He relied with, oh that is easy, just gotta be myself. Something just clicked in my head when he said that. I told my friend, “thats it!” From the next day on I was never short of a idea, in fact I had “Ted’s Idea Book” which I wrote down ideas.

When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in? 

I enjoy spending time with friends and family, local gallery shows, listening to music, movies and of course enjoy a few cold beers.


Ted Tollefson, is a Midwestern based, American artist, growing up in Tama/Toledo, Iowa where he started making art at a young age. In 2008 received BA at Upper Iowa University, in graphic design and studio art, continued education in video production and graphic design at Creighton University, Omaha, NE until 2011. Ted currently resides in Minneapolis, MN and continues as a freelance artist, designer and illustrator. He has created collages since early childhood but gained more serious interest in 2012. Current works take on a playful notion, with elements of cut and paste typography, images from books and magazines, antique photos and other paper materials. The future looks bright for Ted as collaborations continue and subject matter and ideas for new work are never a shortage as well as large scale collage coming soon. In addition, he plans of sharing work in upcoming shows around the globe, as being main focus for the future.




All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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