What Our Creatives Collect
Jul 21, 2016
I guess I collect books.
It’s not an intentional collection – I don’t seek out a certain genre, or only first editions. I don’t comb the shelves of bookstores looking for specific volumes.
I don’t buy books with the intention of adding them to a collection – I buy them to read, and then I find a home for them on my shelves. I sometimes stack them on my bedside table, or find a spot for them on the coffee table. They are slowly but surely taking over my house.
The only way I can “get rid of” books is to let friends borrow them. Even then, it’s a temporary loss. I keep track of them – I know who I’ve lended them to, and I will steal them back at the earliest opportunity.
Does this count as a collection? Maybe not.
Fast Company recently asked designers what they collect. Fascinated, I sat down with a few of our designers and creatives to see if they had any collections of their own, whether it was a serious assemblage of artifacts or just something that littered their workspace.
Courtney Walker, Marketing Coordinator / Graphic Designer
When I was younger, I started collecting ticket stubs from concerts – like every teenage girl, ever.
Over the years of Warped Tours, way too many Taking Back Sunday shows, festivals, plays, and so on I grew quite the collection. Soon enough, the art exhibit stubs started piling on as well. From Chuck Close to Andy Warhol, I saw many of my favorite artists’ work that have undoubtedly influenced who I’ve become.
The collection grew large enough for way too many DIY projects; and they now sit in a little shadow box I created a week before moving to Raleigh. In a way, it felt like I was packaging up one snippet of my life, and moving on to the next. As I’m diving further into the “real world” and gathering more conference lanyards than concert passes, I find it hard to let these memories go.
Every ticket has a story, so I’ll stick to hoarding mine for now.
Michael Mercer, Motion Graphics Designer
I’ve never really thought of myself as a “collector” as I feel that term implies someone that doesn’t use what they collect, but I guess the term could be applied to my love of great art and the fact that I do regularly purchase art books, comics, and sketchbooks from my peers in the animation industry.
I am most proud of my purchases when it’s from an independent artist struggling to make it on their own or pursue a dream. Having walked that path myself (unsuccessfully) I know the challenges they face and how much difference even $25 can make, especially when 1000 different people offer it up.
These books I use for education, for inspiration, and for getting out of creative ruts. If I’m stuck, I’ll go look at other artist’s work. Sometimes it just depresses me on how far I still have to go on my journey, but for me it can also be helpful because I’ve watched these people progress from where I am now, so it can also provide hope, assurance, and motivation. In particular, Jake Parker runs a YouTube channel that is filled with wisdom and almost anyone in the animation or comics industry now knows his name because of it.
Many of these books are limited edition works, Kickstarter projects, or otherwise rare finds and so I definitely enjoy picking them up when they are available.
Tyler Dady, Associate Creative Director
I collect a few things.
Let’s start with pictures of door knockers. Weird, I know. When I was travelling in Italy, I’d find myself stopped looking at these incredibly innate doors, with knockers on them that were a work of art. There’s something simple, serene, and gorgeous about them.
I also collect cooking knives. I love food. I mean, I love it. When I go places, albeit rarely, I find myself looking at local restaurants and their chefs. What do they cook with, and why? I also use them daily, so what better way to remind myself of a place than with something I utilize daily?
Finally, I collect shoes. Oh man. My feet haven’t changed sizes in 17 years – it’s incredible. Give me a shoe closet, and I’d be the happiest dude alive. Nike SBs, Redwing Workers, Adidas Hi-Tops, Vans, Converse, you name it – I have a pair. When we move into our new place this weekend, the shoes are going to be be back in full effect. I’m stoked beyond all reason.
Brandon Clarke, Associate Creative Director
I started reading comics when I was about nine or ten years old.
Back then, they were sold on spinner racks in convenience stores and pharmacies, and only cost around $1.25 per issue. I’d beg my dad to buy them for me – which resulted in my first job mowing lawns.
The habit really picked up in middle school (obviously I was pretty darn cool), and I began to develop a taste for certain characters, writers and artists. I’ll still occasionally pick up a book now and again – but not as much as I’d like to.
I truly believe that my affinity for comic books and graphic novels has played an integral part in my pathway into being a professional creative. Both comic books and marketing copy try to achieve the most impactful results through short, succinct writing styles. But most importantly, I’m all about capturing visual interest – and comic books have taught me pretty much everything I know about visual storytelling.
John Kaplan, Creative Director
I collect old analog switches, knobs, and cranks from TV’s, phones and what not. Then I take them apart and build them into wooden cases – I have a few that live on my desk.
Everything is just a touchscreen these days, there’s nothing to physically interact with that you feel and hear. What I love about these switches and things I collect is being able to feel and hear the physical clicks.
It’s funny how many people will walk up to my desk and ask what they’re for, then when they dial or turn they just smile – that’s the whole point.
When I built one from a rotary phone, I didn’t realize it, but I started dialing my childhood phone number from muscle memory – something I thought I had long forgotten.
Josh O’Dell, Associate Creative Director
I collect notes I’ve made, lists, clippings I thought were important, non sequiturs on Post-its, random philosophical musings.
Everyone is a character with a story, and as characters we have these parts of ourselves that we leave behind — a note, the crust of a sandwich, a muddy footprint — things we leave in the world that signify we were there. To do lists, reminders and other notes are the most obvious of these little things that give a peek of who we are or were.
Even if it’s something weird, like a grocery list, it has a time, a place, a story. I can look at an old grocery list and see what I was hungry for, how much money I had at the time, what was happening in my life.
I don’t have them organized — they’re in drawers, envelopes, all over. The notes on my phone aren’t organized either; it’s stuff I need to make sure to tell my kids, story ideas, a list of natural remedies for nausea, a three-year-old list of birthday presents I owed to people.
It’s a little bit of a compulsion, keeping these notes and things, but I treat them kind of like a journal.
Adam Hoffmann, Motion Graphics Designer / Editor
I’ve never been the “collecting” type as much as the hoarding type.
The closest thing that comes to mind is my “collection” of movie ticket stubs. It’s probably closer to a psychological condition, like a hoarder-type attempt to keep the experience of seeing those movies fresh.
They would be in a shoebox somewhere. My ‘collecting” attempt usually starts with placing the ticket stub anywhere. Then, when I tidy up from time to time, I’ll find them and put them in a box.
Currently, the whereabouts of the box are unknown. But it’s somewhere. I’m sure of it.
Jesse Stormer, Motion Graphics Designer
I collect transportation vessels for the nectar of the Gods, also known as beer growlers. All of the growlers are branded from small artisan breweries I’ve visited.