I opt-in to a lot of e-newsletters. Partly out of optimism ("I totally have time to read 1,000 e-newsletters a day!") and partly because I suffer from the hoarding compulsion (more on that below).
Out of the dozens of e-newsletters that I receive, there are only a handful that I read everyword everytime. One of those is by the writer/artist Austin Kleon, who sends a simple weekly email of 10 Things he thought were worth sharing that week. In his most recent newsletter, he shared his thoughts on the concept of "Tidying Up."
The long(ish) post is worth a read—and mentions everyone from Marie Kondo to George Carlin—but the part that really landed with me was the section about the "Sassiest Boy in America" Ian Svenonius and the "war on hoarders":
While I find the Kondo craze mostly benign, I do think there’s something insidious about what Ian Svenonius calls the “war on hoarders,” in which Americans are being convinced to give up all their paper books and CDs and other material clutter and embrace the digital cloud, accessed by sleek machines sold and controlled by powerful corporations.
“ALL POWER TO THE PACKRATS!” Svenonius exclaims in Censorship Now!! He knights hoarders as “the only thing standing between the incomprehensibly rich, all-controlling, degenerate, digital despots and the absolute destruction of any deviant or alternative consciousness.” (Let’s not forget that Winston Smith’s first transgression in 1984 is owning and writing in a paper diary.) If part of the artist’s job is to be that alternate consciousness, then we must keep our weird stuff around — stuff that other people find no value in.
I think a lot about hoarding, because, well, I come from a long line of packrats and hoarders. And collage, by default, requires one to hoard.
I may not be a candidtate to appear on the TV show Hoarders (yet), but I'm definitely a collector and a clutter-bug.
If you research hoarding it's often referred to as a mental illness that requires maintenance. I believe collage is a conduit to achieving mental health. So, in a way, my compulsion to collage cancels out my compulsion to collect.
It feels like I'm turning a negative into a positive, like I'm walking the line between collecting and hoarding. And really, at the end of the day, I find comfort in all my clutter. It's physical evidence of my existence.
P.S. You can sign up for my e-newsletter below.
As I mentioned in my previous post, for me, collage is about making connections.
Usually, that means the connections between two disparate scraps of paper. But more often than not, it's about making deeper connections.
To thoughts or ideas. Or feelings.
In fact, when I see hundreds of paper fragments spread out on a table out on a table I think, "That's exactly what my brain looks like. A fucking mess with tons a bits of things floating around just waiting to be utilized."
There've been plenty of articles written about creativity and making connections, and even cult leader Steve Jobs once said, "Creativity is just connecting things."
And I believe that to be true.
Collage is the perfect personification of creativity.
It is also magic in the way that it can connect the past with the present.
It's impossible not to feel connected to a bygone era when you spend hours pouring over 70-year-old news magazines. Collage is all about recycling, reinterpreting, and reprocessing our collective past, present, and future.
There's also something cathartic about stripping images down to their simplest forms and then building them back up again.
Collage is a place to put my anxieties and fears, to exercise control over the world itself, and to brush back the overwhelming digital crush of apps and push notifications and social media rants and constant news and updates and marketing messages and images upon images upon images.
With collage, I'm in control.
I've been thinking a lot about this recently.
Mostly because I'm wrapping up a three month fellowship program and so much of our time has been spent talking and thinking and writing about what we do—and why we do what we do.
What I do is easy: I make pictures out of pictures.
Or to put it more simply:
I cut, paste, and repeat.
But the why ... that's been more difficult to nail down.
It seems like every week since the fellowship started, I've had a new angle on an artist statement, a new reason why. But in the end, the only thing I know to be true is this:
The act of collage to me is all about discovery and connection. It's about giving order to a self-created chaos. It's about mental health.
I don't have a set way that I collage. Every piece is different. I have a few preferences (source material usually predates 1960; a human face is rarely left intact or uncovered; and I always cut, never tear).
But that's about it. The rest is about feeling my way through each piece, about the simplicity of and a fascination of paper. It's about sorting through scraps and disparate pieces. It's about pushing on that feeling until something new takes shape.
Sometimes nothing feels right. Sometimes I don't find what I'm looking for (whatever that is). And other times I walk away from my work table with ten newly assembled pieces.
But it doesn't matter if I make something new, only that I showed up and sorted through the debris.
The tactile nature of collage, and the process of cutting and pasting, is therapy.
It's relaxing and it gets me away from a fucking screen and the internet and every other distraction in my life. It's analog and it reclaims a small part of my pre-digital brain.
Also: I'm a kinetic person that abhors idle hands. I need to be doing—and in doing, I often find connections. To people, to things, to ideas. And, in this case, between fragments.
Fragments of thoughts.
And various random scraps of paper.
I've been thinking a lot recently about connections. Connections between ideas. Between images. And between people.
I've also been thinking a lot about advertising and marketing. The fine art of selling.
But more specifically, the art of selling art as advertising. Art replacing advertising.
Posters and postcards and flyers for no purpose than to put aesthetics into the public sphere. Advertisements for nothing. Just art presented as advertising.
I think this is the next logical step in my work. The road I'm most interested in walking down.
I want to develop objects and art that appears in the world in same manner and location as advertising. To force itself in front of an audience.
I also am thinking a lot about the Luca Project. But a variation on the original form (which was a publication that was built to be disassembled and it's parts redistributed via analog means (USPS, etc.)).
The vision I have now of the Luca is a direct mail campaign that targets other, unknown members of the Knezovich namesake, and to connect with them. The more I think about, the bigger the project becomes... which is exciting as shit.
Anyway, I'm only putting this here so that I don't forget.
I feel like I've been working on this web redesign for three years. But the reality is that I've merely been thinking about working on this redesign for that long.
I've allowed myself to be psyched out by the challenge of creating work worth sharing--and blogging about things that are worth reading.
I know this is normal. This fear to begin. Because once you begin, you can fail.
But failing is always better than never beginning.
So I'm prepared to fail. And fail again.
Let the failing begin.