Raised in Preston, Lancashire, Adam Hale’s earliest memories of being creative involve snapping together paintbox-bright Lego bricks into elaborate inventions. “These days Lego sets come with instructions, but when I was a kid we had a huge bucket spilling over with random bricks so you could freestyle,” the graphic-designer-turned-collagist tells me from his home in Surrey.
Hale is better known by his artist alias and Instagram handle, The Daily Splice, which he started working under in 2015 after a lightbulb moment on the Central Line. “As a commuter working in Soho, I began to notice the vast amounts of free magazines strewn across public transport and saw an opportunity to collect literally hundreds of free images per week,” explains the artist. “In the past I’d always strived to make artwork digitally but now I wanted to try something different.”
Today, magazine cuttings are Hale’s building bricks. His richly surreal and playful style is influenced by artists like Nychos, Shepard Fairey and Glenn Jones, and while there’s no sharp ‘snap’ as he pieces his creations together, he does enjoy the exactitude of working with small precision scissors, a scalpel and glue stick. Unsurprising, perhaps, given that a streak of perfectionism is what drew the designer to collage-making in the first place.
“As a student at The University for the Creative Arts I would never finish anything – I worked on everything to death, and I was never happy with the results,” says Hale. “When I began experimenting with collage I noticed my work rate shoot through the roof. The limitations of the collage medium make it easy to finish a piece and move on to a new idea.”
That work ethic paid off. After 18 busy months of collaging, Hale was picking up enough commissions to quit his day job in marketing and leave the capital for leafy Surrey, where he converted part of his new home into a studio. The crucial moment, he says, came in 2015 when Instagram shared one of his artworks on their global account. “It was collage number 168, which still means a lot to me. That was a big turning point. The initial recognition led to more opportunities and a sharp rise in my following.”
Hale now works with the likes of Mulberry, who commissioned him to create a series of bespoke animations for their NYC store. “That’s probably the most unusual commission I’ve ever received. In addition to the online campaign, my work was played on loop with headphones so shoppers could listen to the accompanying soundtrack.”
Each collage takes anything from 20 minutes to two hours to complete, and Hale is a certified night owl, preferring a relaxed approach between the hours of 9 and 5, with a break for a lunchtime run, before working into the wee hours. “That’s when the bulk of my creative work really flows,” he explains.
While the razor-sharp lines and clean shapes of his compositions might suggest otherwise, trial and error is key to Hale’s process. “I begin by sifting through magazines, collecting interesting imagery or anything out of the ordinary,” says the artist. “Ideas begin to form in front of me… I rarely start out with a plan unless it’s for a client project.”
When splicing, his mood is “happy, hopeful – and frustrated”. But those frustrations go out the window once the work is published; Hale is easy-going when it comes to the emotive experiences his works engender in the viewer, stressing that his medium is “ambiguous and subjective – I’m just happy to evoke any emotional response at all!”
Quizzed on who in the art world is exciting him right now, Hale picks out Los Angeles-based muralist Michael Reeder, who he praises for his “detailed portraiture, bold geometry and stunning use of colour”.
Curiously, despite his following, Hale has never prioritised selling or exhibiting his own work. That’s set to change in 2019, though. “I’ve had a lot of interest in originals and have decided to work on some limited-edition prints, which should be available early next year.”
For now, it’s back to the splicing board. And like a colourful shower of idiosyncratic building bricks, Adam Hale’s cuttings keep landing in exactly the right place.
For more of Hale’s work, you can follow him on Instagram under The Daily Splice.