I wonder — what inspires us to collect things? Why are we fascinated to define, seek out, embrace and create groups of curious goodies? Today we’re talking the theory of, and the philosophy behind, what inspires one of my modern-day collecting favourites: artist, illustrator and collector extraordinaire Lisa Congdon.
On January 1st of this year, Lisa began a fabulous adventure entitled A Collection-a-Day, 2010. The result is an on-going curatorial masterpiece that has captured the collective imagination of many! It’s a delight to welcome Lisa and her many magnificent collections.
Who are you? Lisa Congdon
What are you collecting? Everything I can get my hands on that is in some way beautiful or interesting
What do you love about collecting? The hunt!
When did you start collecting? With Madame Alexander dolls when I was only four years old.
How many collections do you have? Depending on how you categorize things, I have somewhere between 80 and 250 collections.
Tell us about your collection-a-day project. On January 1, 2010 I decided to start a blog project in which I would photograph — or occasionally draw or paint —and post one collection a day for every day for the entire year.
Why did you start the project? Since I was a young girl, I have been obsessed both with collecting, arranging, organizing, and displaying my collections. The project is my attempt to document my collections, both the real and the imagined. I embarked on this project because I love my collections, and wanted to document them in a way that makes sense to me. I’m happy to share them with whoever might be interested.
Where do you find your collections? I frequent flea markets, thrift stores, junk shops, garage sales, giveaway piles, and family attics to find new additions to my collections.
Where do you keep them? Just a few are on display in my house, but most are filed away in envelopes and boxes in my art studio.
Which collections is your favourite and why? My favorite is probably my eraser collection. I mean, who collects used erasers? But they are so special, and each eraser has a story I will never know.
What’s an interesting story behind one of your collections? People might be interested to know how I began collecting vintage school supplies. Seventeen years ago, I got my first teaching assignment in a fourth grade classroom. I took over for a teacher who had just retired after 40 years. He had so many old materials and supplies in his room! They were too old and out of date to use, so I asked the principal if I could keep whatever we didn’t throw in the dumpster. She said it was okay and I got some real gems from that classroom. It was the beginning of one of my oldest collections.
What do you think attracts folks to collections? I think people enjoy the sense of nostalgia and connection that comes from collecting.
What is it about your fabulous project that you think draws others in? I think the nostalgia I mentioned is part of it; most of my collections are vintage things. People love the vintage typography and packaging too. But I also think people are drawn to the arrangement of mostly everyday objects in an interesting way, especially how they are photographed.
What else do you collect? Some of my other favorite collections are mid-century kitchenware from Scandinavia and Japan, and I also love the old handwritten letters I’ve collected for my ephemera collection. I have so many amazing collections that it’s hard to choose a favorite.
What collections would you like to add? I’d like enough mid-century Danish furniture to furnish my entire house.
So inspiring! Thanks so much, Lisa. In other wonderful news, Lisa’s collection project is about to become a book too! Be sure to stroll through her gorgeous art shop for goodies you’ll surely want to add to your own collections.
How about you? What do you collect? I’d love to hear, please post in the comments below.
I’m Kristal Davis (a.k.a. rikrak) and I just love seeing what folks are collecting. I guess I feel it tells us a little bit about what inspires them. The Collectors series, first published on my own little blog, the rikrak studio, is 11 and a half quick questions with a wonderful artist on what they’re collecting — apart from their art supplies!.