When graphic designer and artist Ross Collins was invited to take part in Watford Area Arts Forum’s (WAAF) annual summer exhibition at the intu shopping centre again this year, he was delighted. But he almost had to say no.

“I’ve taken part many times in the past so it was great,“ explains the 34-year-old former Watford resident, “but I’ve sold so much of my work recently that I didn’t really have anything to put in!“ Ross’ collages of famous faces such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and The Beatles have proved so popular that they often sell before he has even finished them, so he rarely has enough work on-hand to put into an art show.

For this year’s WAAF exhibition, he has had to create three especially, one of Keith Richards, one of Marilyn Monroe and one, “randomly“, of a goldfish.

Ross creates his collages using pages from discarded books and magazines he finds in charity shops and also junk mail that comes through his door and items that he finds “all over the place“, such as bottle tops.

The former Queens School pupil began his artistic career as a more traditional painter, but started experimenting with collages a couple of years ago after coming across the work of Dutch collage artist Martijn Hesseling while holidaying in Bruges.

“He soaks the paper in oils and they become translucent,“ says Ross, who now lives in Aylesbury, where he teaches art at the Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School. “He creates the most amazing collages and it made me think of moving in that direction. I did one as an experiment, of my daughter, and I liked the way it turned out and haven’t really looked back.“ Rather than looking back, Ross is now thinking of looking on, finding a new direction to take his art in, so the WAAF exhibition may be your last chance to see his collages.

“I want to do something slightly different now,“ he admits, “something more abstract or experimental. I feel like I’ve almost got to the end of the road with what I’m doing now and it’s time to move on. It’s good to keep challenging yourself as an artist.“

  • Ross’ work will be on display in the Watford Area Arts Forum Summer Exhibition, Mezzanine Gallery, intu shopping centre, Watford from Saturday, July 5 until Sunday, July 13, Monday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm, and Sundays 11am to 5pm. Details: watfordareaartsforum.com, facebook.com/rosscollinsartist