— I made these collages over the last few days prompted by the invitation to contribute to This Long Century and it’s impending deadline. I live in upstate New York and my junk mail consists primarily of catalogues selling everything from fascinating farm equipment to creepy rightwing infected gift selections. There are of course many gardening catalogues, such as the bleak but well meaning Spray n’ Grow.

I had thrown a selection into a box as ‘possibly useful’ and last week I finally upended it looking for ‘a palette’ and surprisingly—or not—I ended up narrowing that down to just two: J.Crew and Consolidated Plastics Commercial Matting. For a while Dutch Bulbs was in the mix, but the giddy array of tulips proved too loaded with colorful suggestion. I chose instead to work with the already limited visual co-ordinates of J.Crew for men, and commercial matting. The print quality of their respective reproductions sat well together, which helped, because this was going to be a scalpel knife and glue stick project, no photoshop—I don’t know how, plus I enjoy the tactile jigsaw puzzle pleasure of handling the actual bits and moving them around until they fit right.

I then scanned them inexpertly on my HP All-in-One, so the quality’s not great but there’s always the original, albeit here on my desk! The images all feature the same guy, as it happens. He was ‘someone’—one of those guest models from the real world—but I’m sorry, I didn’t make a note of who, and the rest of the catalogue is now binned. Once complete, I realized that I had ended up doing just what I do in painting, which is to take a figure (usually one of my own invention) and make it pop or flatten in accordance with some kind of invisible ley lines of desire—though not for the figure represented, but for the creative process itself.

Nicola Tyson is a British artist who has been based in New York for many years. She is primarily a painter, although she has worked with photography, film and lately the written word and sculpture. The Fall of 2012 sees the publication of her satirical and autobiographical LETTERS TO ARTISTS AND SOME OTHER MEN, and an exhibition of photographs at White Columns in New York—her archive of London club photos from the late ‘70s. She is represented in New York by Friedrich Petzel Gallery, and in London by Sadie Coles HQ.