Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Colligo, Ergo Designo

I’ve been casually thumbing my way through Instant Graphics, an inspiring look at the creative processes of other designers, particularly those whose work relies heavily upon collage and the appropriation of clip art, found objects, ephemera, etc. One of the recurring themes brought out in this book is how people who are designers also tend to be avid collectors—collectors even (especially?) of things that many other people would deem “junk”.

Many designers and illustrators are explorers and archivists of their immediate environments, scouring the city streets, parks, river banks, gardens, markets, and even their own studios, for objects, textures, and source material…many designers inevitably find themselves becoming collectors and/or curators of certain types of imagery or objects—insects, sports cards, magazine clippings, old catalogs, engravings, or prints. Some develop a fascination with a specific type of image or object—perhaps from an accidental find—and set about actively researching and building collections of them, which, in turn, begin to influence their subsequent work. —p24

Sean Adams, of AdamsMorioka, has the following to say:
“I have never met a designer who is not a closet collector of something. Whether it’s thimbles, Japanese packaging, or rocks, everyone has one collection. Being a collector is just like being a designer; you don’t choose to be a designer, it chooses you.”—p98

As one who can certainly identify with this, I am driven to muse: do we become designers because we are obsessive collectors?…or is the impulse to collect driven by one’s work as a designer?…or is it all a vicious cycle with no beginning or end? I confess to being a collector of books, magazines (most notably National Geographic), newspapers, LP records, old photographs, letters, documents, postcards and correspondences, wine bottles, timepieces, posters, maps, prints, 8mm film and projectors, old shoes, spent rounds of ammunition, currency and coins, fragments of flooring, windows, hardware, masonry and woodwork culled from old buildings and other structures, samples of nature (flowers, leaves, bark, nuts, bones, feathers, dead cicadas, turtle shells, sea shells, and rocks), drawings that my kids have made, nautical and/or astronomical paraphernalia, and anything having to do with trains.

How about you? What collections do you keep? Or perhaps I should ask, what collections keep you?

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