“Everything has its own creative beauty.  Life is creativity manifested.  As an artist, my desire is to reflect the beauty of the human experience by giving form to my own creative vision.”

That’s the message Carl M. Crawford shares – and the message he lives.  A native of Columbia, SC, Carl began his artistic journey early. As a very young child, he was influenced by the works of Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and the signature paintings of Ernie Barnes. Crawford won his first art award at Columbia’s Providence Hospital in an art competition as a fifth grader.  At that moment, the purpose for his life was set.

A self-taught, free-lance artist, Crawford has developed a unique style forging a modern synthesis of Lawrence and Bearden that he calls “Collage Illusion™”.  His work, inspired by the African American experience, is created by hand cutting subtly shaded color slivers from magazines and painstakingly gluing them to glass to compose an image.  From a distance the resulting works look lushly painted.  On closer inspection they are revealed as intricate collages of breathtakingly nuanced detail.  Using only donated magazines Collage Illusion™ is “recycling at its finest.” 

“Collage Illusion™” has won Crawford several awards and recognition throughout the nation.  He is the official Congo Square Poster artist for the 2012 New Orleans Jazz Festival.  He was the featured artist at the 2010 Chicago Jazz Festival Best in Show (2010) and Most Unique (2011) for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Honorable Mention for the Piccolo Spoleto Art Fair in Charleston SC, Best in Category at Chicago’s Gold Coast Art Fair, Best in Mixed Media at Glencoe Illinois Art Fair, Best in Category at Virginia Beach’s Board Walk Art Festival, the Juror Award at Shreveport’s Red River Revel, 1st Place Award at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts in Eatonville FL 2010-2011 and Best in Show 2012, Best in Category 2013, 2015, 2016. Award of Excellence at the Charlotte Fine Arts Show 2013, Best in Show at Black Theatre Festival 2013, 2014 Black Pages USA Top 40 under 40, 2014 Best in Show and Best in Mixed Media at the Savannah Fine Arts on the River.

In 2011, Carl was commissioned by the gift company, African American Expressions™ to produce their “Total Praise” gift collection, including a 2013 calendar.  Since then, Carl has become the top selling artist within the international company.  His original Collage Illusion™ technique can also be viewed at the Harvey B. Gantt Museum in Charlotte, NC.

We may have missed his predecessors, but Crawford takes their collage, color and form techniques to such a revelatory level, with bravado beyond even the pioneers, that he becomes one himself.  You don’t want to miss the opportunity of having this newly discovered trailblazer featured in your personal collection.



My supporters ask me, “How did you come up with the idea for Collage Illusion?” To be honest, it was God. He allowed me to see that we are creations of Him as well as creators for Him.

For many of us, early in life, we endure experiences that causes us to fragment into many pieces. We lose our way. Our mission and Divine destiny then becomes finding ourselves again. We must remember the pieces that define who we are. This is our greatest challenge, because the path is not always clear. Many time we find ourselves in the dark and nothing seems to go right.

This is when you must ask God for guidance. As you do, the pieces of your puzzle begin to come together, and the Universe reveals clues to enlightenment. Now you’re on your way to discovering your “Why”. Your soul’s purpose. Who you really are.

My technique, Collage Illusion, is inspired by this same life process. I must find pieces of magazine paper and then assemble each piece, like a puzzle, to form one work of art. I take scattered, fragments of paper and bring them together to create a full picture. The challenge is paying close attention to the details of each piece. Every color matters; the position matters. There is much purpose to the process. When the artwork is completed you can feel the movement and energy of the creation. With each work, my desire is to give you a sense of wholeness, peace and joy. To enlighten, to uplift, to heal and to make you smile.

This is the Movement of Collage Illusion.