Monday, November 8, 2010

an interview with collector extraordinaire: lisa congdon


i just love seeing what folks are collecting. i guess i kind of feel it tells us just a little bit about what inspires them, what they love, and what they choose to surround themselves with in their home. today, i'm delighted to present the next in the rikrak studio's collections series:  quick questions with a wonderful artist on what they're collecting, (apart from their art supplies! ) you can also check out my new *the collectors* series on Etsy, based on these posts! hope you'll just love a collection-a-day: with superstar lisa congdon. 

what inspires us to collect? 
what fascinates us to define, seek out,  & embrace a collection of things?

today we're talking a bit about the theory of, and the philosophy behind ,what inspires one of my modern-day collecting favourites: artist,  illustrator & collector extraordinaire  lisa congdon.

since she was a little girl, lisa has loved collecting. 
on january 1st of this year, she began an amazing journey: an online collection-a-day: a brilliant daily sharing of her many unique & creative findings  says lisa: “Most of the collections are real and exist in my home or studio; those I will photograph. Some are imagined; those I will draw or (occasionally) paint.”

the result is an on-going masterpiece: her collection a day project has captured the collective imagination of many,  {& YAY! it's about to become a BOOK!

it's a delight to welcome lisa to the rikrak studio.

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, age 4
what do you love about collecting? The hunt.
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 (and occasionally draw or paint) and post one collection (or portion of a 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 and with 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 I wanted to document them in a way that makes sense to me, and share them with whoever might be interested in looking at them.
where do you find your collections?  Flea markets, thrift stores, junk shops, garage sales, giveaway piles, family attics
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 are your favourite & why? My favorite collection 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 a crazy/interesting story behind one) :  I have no crazy stories actually, but people might be interested to know how I began collecting vintage school supplies. 17 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 (we didn't recycle back then!). She said I could. 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? Nostalgia, connection, a yearning for times past.
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, how they are photographed. 
what else do you collect? Some of my other favorite collections are midcentury kitchenware from Scandinavia and Japan, and I also love the old handwritten letters I've collected for my ephemera collection. I have so many awesome collections that it's hard to choose a favorite.
what collections would you like to add? Enough midcentury danish furniture to furnish my entire house.


so inspiring & marvelous ... thanks so much, lisa.
and be sure to visit her collection-a-day site for daily inspiration,  her upcoming book project , and her gorgeous art shop, too.

it's a delight for the senses all around, nicies!

lisa congdon

tell us...
what do you collect?
what inspires you to collect?
we'd love to hear!

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  1. I love Lisa's idea!
    I collect antique postcards from India and Great Britain. The stories in the writings are fascinating!!!!

  2. We had a unit on collections in my 2nd grade science classroom. I love the connection between science and collecting. That's when I started a stamp collection, which although not as orderly as I once attempted to make it (right now I'd rather sort by color than by country) is still around!

  3. sounds wonderful, moira!

    and mjb: that's fascinating. i'd love to hear more about those sciencey collection connections! wonderful

  4. great! i really love Lisa's work and collections project. her photos of her collections are beautiful :)

  5. Great interview! Her collections are amazing. I used to collect erasers, so that spoke to me. Now I'm onto Merry Mushroom kitchen stuff, vintage clothing, and books. Oh! And stray animals :)

  6. Lovely interview! I collect old globes, pyrex dishes (only certain colours), and milk glass. I have been collecting things since I was little - I think it's just born in some people to collect!

  7. Brilliant! Absolutely BRILLIANT!! That is a book that I must own! I think her home was featured on Design Sponge?? I have a photo of her wall with the plates saved in my faves!

  8. Wow - I can't wait to check out more of her pics -- here's someone who makes my small collections of Hands (mine stand up, on a shelf) and Letterpress Dollar Signs seem totally justified. Her beautiful photos really appeal to me!

    Not to mention my pile of stones outside, which I call my RockAria.

  9. Swoooon! Plunk!
    (that's me swooning and hitting the floor) I am a HUGE fan of Lisa and all her collections...thank you Miss. RikRak! XO

  10. me too, nicies.
    me too. :)

    swooning & plunking over here, too, tanis!


thanks so much for your comments, nicies!
it's a joy to read what everyone writes here.
thank you!