We had the good fortune of connecting with Curtis Bergesen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Curtis, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Bethesda, MD. My parents raised me on a variety of good music and were always supportive of my creative endeavors. I started playing drums when I was around 11 or 12. I got into skateboarding, graffiti, and punk and hardcore music in middle school. I am an only child, so music and art were outlets I could enjoy and participate in by myself. In high school I excelled at making people laugh, smoking marijuana, playing in a band, and achieving Eagle Scout rank.
I majored in Mass Communication at the University of Delaware, and had a weekly radio show for over 2 years called Mixed Vegetables. I played all genres, including unknown and up and coming bands. Promoting music on the airwaves led to booking and promoting concerts at the local dive bar. I would make show flyers using a mixture of collage and printing out text in different sizes and fonts using Word or Word Perfect.
In May 2007 I moved to Brooklyn, NY, because I was ready for a change, knew a ton of people in the NYC area, and the live music scene was unparalleled. I started Herbivore Publicity that fall, and officially started representing the band Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad who I had been helping for a few years as a fan / friend. I worked 7 days a week and did not have a schedule or any intentional “me time.” Music was my main passion in life and I was working with incredible nationally touring bands and independent music companies. The lines between my work and personal life were completely blurred, and I felt like I never had any free time for myself. After a decade of working remotely from home doing PR, digital marketing, and social media ghostwriting, I was super burnt out.
In early 2017 I went to Miami for GrassRoots Festival. I spent time in the Wynwood neighborhood and was completely blown away by Wynwood Walls, and the endless visual stimulation. I was so inspired that I created Collage The World @collagetheworld on Instagram on the flight home. I needed a new outlet to express myself, something separate from the music world, something just for me. I quit my full-time music industry job that September, went to Oaxaca, Mexico for 3 weeks, and started to slowly deconstruct the person I had become in an effort to try and figure out who and what I wanted to be. The Snapcase album title “Progression Through Unlearning” is one of my favorite phrases and a perfect way to describe what I have been doing the past 4 years or so.
I started making handmade collage art to freely express myself with a creative and emotional outlet that was all my own. After promoting and helping the careers of other creative people, I was desperate to find purpose and fulfillment through my own ideas and vision.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art alias is Collage The World. I make handmade collage art using pieces of paper (magazines, books, calendars, brochures, etc), scissors and blades, and glue and tape. I started collaging with a purpose in 2017, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I was creating multiple pieces every month. I finished 83 collages in 2020.
I frequently use images of nature and wildlife in my art. Sometimes I will rip paper by hand to add a different dimension of texture and irregularity. I think titles are important and usually name a piece after it’s finished. Global warming, injustice, and inequality are common themes in my artwork. BLACK LIVES MATTER.
My earliest memory of making collage was in college. Cutting random things up and sticking them together came naturally to me, but I did not consciously think “I am making a collage.” In 2017 I created Collage The World with the specific intention of becoming a paper artist. I followed analog collagists from around the world on Instagram, and began studying the endless varieties of styles.
When I finish a collage, the feeling of completion is incredibly satisfying. I scan the piece, post it on socials, store it in my portfolio, and get ready to start something new. I am most proud of the art that I have created for bands (singles, albums, posters). Having my collage visually represent a band’s music is a true honor.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First we would hike Mount Falcon Park in Morrison. Then we’d head to the Art District on Santa Fe to explore Denver Art Society. Now it’s time to refuel with a Huitlacoche quesadilla and a mezcal margarita at Machete. At night we’d head to Cervantes’ for a concert followed by a couple slices from Famous Original J’s Pizza. The next day we’d drive to Breckenridge for some epic views at Sapphire Point. Then we’ll stop by my friend Dan’s house to say hi to his outernational cat Maggie. Once we get back to Denver we’ll dine on Bharta Makhni and other vegetarian delights from India Express.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Love and Respect to my Mom and Dad, Ancestors, Mother Nature, K.C. Atha, Reid Foster, Seth Herman, Mark Weinberger, James Searl, Peter Wood, and Will Harding.
Chris O’Brian, Mario @sieseis, J.J. Pelechaty, @ejecentral.collagemexa in Mexico City, Zach Moldof, and Dellarious have influenced and inspired my art journey.
I moved to Denver in 2019. Denver Art Society deserves a big shoutout because it has given me a local community to thrive and grow with. This volunteer-run art gallery is one of a kind and I am grateful to be a part of it.
Dan Africano, Arik Solberg, Peter Marcus, Birdy Magazine, Color Red, and Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom have all brightened my Colorado experience.