Susan Oakes Creates A Personalized Photo Collage For Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations And Memorials. More Than Putting Pictures On One Page, Each Reflects The Person Or Family Making It A True Heirloom

Looking for a unique gift to honor or commemorate a special occasion or life milestoneSusan Oakes creates personalized photo collages for individuals and families, focused on birthdays, holidays, celebrations, and memorials (including pets). Working together with the person or family, Susan creates artworks that reflect the occasion authentically. Your next gift can become a true family heirloom that has a distinct meaning for you and your family! The Rickie Report shares the details of how Susan goes about creating such personalized gifts and some sneak peeks. With Special Occasions coming up, we suggest you contact Susan so she has enough time to create YOUR heirloom to perfection! You do NOT have to live nearby – this is the kind of commission you can order from anywhere!











One Photo Collage celebrates a First Birthday, by Susan Oakes 





“Clients send me multiple photos along with a deposit to get started. That begins a lot of back and forth between us until we arrive at the finished product. This process cannot be rushed but when it’s right we both know it!    Susan Oakes







Susan Oakes tells The Rickie Report, “When I create a photo collage for someone, it is highly personal and variable but there are certain guidelines I follow. Whether it is a memorial, or a celebration such as a birthday or holiday, it has to reflect the person or family authentically”.




Collage commemorating his love of Nascar, Las Vegas, and Family, and more!  by Susan Oakes






She explains that in gathering photos in the early stages, it is not a simple matter of just putting images together on a page. “It’s more like putting a puzzle together: I need more photos than I will ultimately use. Although we may love certain photos, sometimes they don’t quite work together well as a whole. It’s a highly visual thing and I typically go through multiple permutations before I’m satisfied”.





Susan’s experience and multifaceted educational/ vocational journey (degrees in Psychology and Graphic Design, retail manager, freelance graphic designer, Photoshop instructor and digital and natural media artist) all come into play as she creates a unity of design.








“One thing that helps this process is creating unity in the design. I’m taking disparate photos from different places, different times, different people and I need to make them into a cohesive whole. The background of photos is very helpful in this regard. As an example, if I’m doing a collage for a child, or someone looking back on their childhood, there may be photos of playing baseball, and other photos of enjoying the beach. Both the baseball diamond and the beach have something in common: sand. I can use this motif to blend the two images from different places together”.










“Many times I will use a backdrop of a sky, a field, greenery, or a common color in the photos to blend the images together and more importantly, to unify the piece. Other things I use to create authenticity are hobbies, places visited, favorite things they loved doing. I have used clip art or other graphical elements, such as sports team’s logos, objects or text to tell the story”.





Example of Susan Oakes using square edged photos and creating a smooth transition




“I can use rectangular photos with edges, but most of the time I prefer to have no straight edges showing at all, meaning I have to blend or morph the edges of different photos to create one smooth continuous image. Or, if I cannot do this, I might put another person or object in place to hide the hard edge of a photo. All of this is done in Photoshop though a combination of masking, painting and layering. Since I’ve been teaching Photoshop for over 20 years, I show my students how to do this type of compositing”.










About Susan Oakes:


Susan is a native Long Islander (which is immediately apparent upon meeting her) who emigrated to South Florida over 18 years ago. She is married to a very tolerant and supportive husband with two grown children (and two grandchildren!) who grew up with a geek for a mother.  Having never been a person with merely one goal, one purpose, she has traveled a multifaceted educational and vocational road including degrees in Psychology and Graphic Design, with experience as a retail manager, freelance graphic designer, Photoshop instructor and digital and natural media artist. And she still hasn’t decided what she wants to be when she grows up!  Her work and teaching demonstrate that art and technology are not antagonistic, but can coexist and should be used to enhance each other in new and exciting ways. Her digital work blurs the borders between photography, painting, and digital illustration to achieve her artistic vision.



In addition to working as a digital artist and graphic designer, she is also a graphics instructor. She teaches  InDesign and Illustrator, but most frequently, Photoshop. This behemoth of a program can be totally overwhelming for a beginner. Susan specializes in teaching new people (mostly adults) Photoshop at Palm Beach State College (in the Corporate and Continuing Ed areas) and also to private students.



One of the cornerstones of her classes is the belief that they must be tailored to the needs and goals of the students. Many adults come to these classes with tremendous variation in their experience and skills; it is Susan’s primary job to first ascertain what her students need and to help them attain their goals.



“I strive to promote a low pressure and welcoming atmosphere, geared to the needs and goals of adult students. I use discussions, demonstrations, videos, hand outs, and other materials to demystify Photoshop and help students to discover its endless creative possibilities for personal expression”.




Her work in “natural” or “traditional media” such as painting and drawing has a much longer history than her digital work, yet the two are inextricably bound and continue to influence each other. In Susan’s natural media work she began to experiment with alternative substrates and mediums, mostly related to watercolor and ink. Susan is an active member of the Wellington Art Society, Artists of Palm Beach County, and Palm Beach Watercolor Society. She is also a member of Kelby One (Formerly known as National Association of Photoshop Professionals)



Selected Awards:

Wellington Art Society: Spring Bling (Virtual Exhibit) “Death of Privacy” 1st Place Spring 2022
Artists of Palm Beach County: Falling into Fall 2021, Featured Artist; “Revenge of Nature” First PlaceArtists of Palm Beach County, “The Artists Mind 2019”, Winter 2019, “Glass Portal” First Place
Lighthouse Artcenter: “40th Annual Member Show & Sale” April 2018 “Chasms” Photography Winner
Artists of Palm Beach County, “Digital Painting, 2017”, 6/12 – 7/14/17 Featured Artist; “Chasms” 2nd Place Lighthouse Artcenter: “39th Annual Member Show & Sale” 3/27 – 4/27/17 “Duplicity” Photography winner Lighthouse Artcenter: “38th Annual Member Show & Sale” 3/17 – 4/27/16 “Intimus” 2nd Place Photography
A Unique Art Gallery, Jupiter, FL; “World Through the Lens”, 4/15 – 6/14 “Copperleaf 2” 1st Place Winner

Solo Exhibits:

South Palm Beach City Hall, South Palm Beach, FL “Floral Passages”, 3-6/2020
Artists of Palm Beach County, Art on Park Gallery, 9/15 – 9/29/17 and “Visual Alternatives” Spring 2019 Broward Art Guild, West Regional Library in Plantation, FL, 11/2 to 12/28/17
Lake Park Library, Lake Park, FL May – 6/ 2017
Palm Beach Gardens City Hall, (with Ellen Negley),“Floral Passages” 9-10/ 2015


View Examples of Susan’s digital imaging and collages:

View Recent examples of Susan’s natural work








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