Kaleidoscopic collage artist Douglas Hale puts his thing down, flips it, and reverses it
In an era defined by digital personas and multiculturalism, nearly everything about the way we think is innately collaged. That observation lies at the core of local artist Douglas Hale’s psychedelic works. From his home office (a detached garage in East Dallas), Hale weaves together chromatic prints, landscapes, and portraits to create surreal collages with a photorealistic, cut-and-paste vibe.
Hale began experimenting with digital assemblage around the age of 27 with a pirated, outdated version of Photoshop. When Air Review—the band he sings and plays guitar and keys in—couldn’t afford a graphic artist, Hale took a DIY approach and assumed the responsibility. After countless online tutorials, he was creating all of the band’s posters and album covers.
Six years ago, his hobby developed into a full-time career. Now he’s a creative director designing graphic tees (sold at Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, etc.) by day and a freelance artist by night. Drawing influences from Afrofuturism—particularly old album covers from Funkadelic, Sun Ra, and Parliament—his hyper-stylized artistry has struck a chord with other musicians and brands who’ve commissioned his work, including Earth, Wind & Fire and Heineken.
Hale’s work is highly image-driven. “Sometimes a piece of art can just look damn cool without any transcendent meaning or deeper truth,” he says. “I get bored with this assumption that art has an obligation to say something profound.” One of the exceptions is a piece he created after President Trump’s election. “I was disturbed by the way evangelicals turned out to vote for such an unapologetically immoral man,” he says. “In God We Trust centers on greed, represented as a golden egg, surrounded by references to war, slavery, celebrity, religion, and the objectification of women.”
The piece, like the majority of Hale’s work, is portrait-based. “I’m most inspired by people. All my works start with a human element that inspires the rest of the piece,” he says. “I find that if I connect with a specific image of a person, then the viewer will, too.”
Black identity is a recurring theme, as both of Hale’s adopted children are black. “As a white man I can’t truly understand black identity, but it’s important to me that my children see themselves in my work,” he says. “I want them to know that they are beautiful and that they matter. I want them to feel affirmed and championed through my work.” —Holly Jefferson
The Details: Hale sliced through our archives to create a custom collage for the cover of the current issue of 1530 Main. Pick up a copy at The Joule today.