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"An artist can make someone feel": an interview with Celina Timmerman

We at Split Lip are big fans of Celina Timmerman, who produced the fantastic art for our September issue. We're so thrilled that we've been able to share her work with you. Celina recently took the time to talk to us about her process, the series in which her featured piece "Just a Trim" appears, and how she views art.

1. What draws you to collage? Can you tell us a bit about your process?

I began collage when I felt in a rut with my photography. I was photographing the same things it felt like over and over again. I have always loved the strangeness of what collage appears to be. When i begin a collage I start with a concept then I start to sketch it out.

2. The image featured in Split Lip, "Just a Trim," comes from a series called What We Are Not. Can you tell us more about this project? How did you approach the series? What were your inspirations?

What We Are Not, is a body of work that discusses my experiences as a black woman growing up in a dominantly white town. My inspiration for this body was simply my own story, which made approaching this work completely different than works in the past. I wanted to be as real as possible and vulnerable! I wanted to allow my audience to connect with me and my story but to also place themselves into my work.

3. Your website mentions future projects others to share their stories. How do you approach art as a collaborative story?

A lot of my work is collaborative, I love sharing stories of others with their permission. I feel in this huge world we often feel alone but we have strangers out there who have gone though what we have. I often as people for annoymous submission on my website for some of my projects such as my #metoo series. Often people will say to me “thank you for getting my story out there and giving me a voice” or “helping you with your project was good for me so i could get it off my chest”.

4. The definition of art you give on your site -- "For me art is something that causes me to feel some sort of emotion and typically is trying to comment on an issue or bring awareness" -- is really compelling. How did you arrive at that definition over the course of your art education?

When I began at Ball State, I just wanted to create work that was pretty but had no meaning. I wanted to get good grades but I never created work I was passionate about until I decided to cut the crap. As a photography major I felt anyone can take a photo but an artist can make someone feel. I didn’t want to be the person with a camera taking a picture that has been taken millions of times, instead I wanted to be the person who created something original and thought provoking.


To learn more about What We Are Not and Celina's other projects, visit

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