On January 1, the San Francisco–based artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon began documenting her various collections on a new blog, A Collection a Day. A new day, a new grouping: vintage Boy Scout cards, delicate sewing notions, paint tubes, plastic charms, erasers, paintbrushes, pencil leads, even — strangely — multicolored buoys. “No, I don’t have a collection of buoys,” Congdon laughs. Or a collection of Victorian shoes, for that matter. As her website explains, while she photographs the collections that decorate her house and studio, “some are imagined; those I will draw or occasionally paint.” Scroll through her site, and you’ll find twigs and toiletries drawn with ink on paper, and, yes, buoys painted with gouache on Masonite. When she began the project on a whim, the plan was to fill a year’s worth of web space, even if she wasn’t sure she’d have 365 things to document.
Congdon, who co-owns the design boutique Rare Device in San Francisco and creates work on commission for clients like Pottery Barn and Chronicle Books, came late to the art and illustration game. She was 33 the first time she picked up a paintbrush, and she only did so because she was taking an art class through the extended education program at Berkeley with her brother, who was a student there in need of an elective. But collecting hooked her early on: “As a kid, I collected dolls and penguins — really dorky stuff,” Congdon says. “I’ve always had a love for old things. When I was little, I would go to my grandmother or aunt’s house and ask permission to touch the things on their shelves. I think I had a fantasy of being an archeologist, discovering the story behind old stuff.” It’s a habit she picked up from her mother, who at 71 is still a practicing artist. “Among other things, my mother collects nativity scenes, so at Christmas the whole living room gets completely overtaken,” she says.
Because the vast majority of Congdon’s collections are paper ephemera, originally intended for use in her work, she doesn’t tend to be particularly sentimental about them. “Part of being a collector is just the challenge and the weird pleasure you get from finding something,” she says. Eight of her favorite conquests are presented here.
When most of us get a package in the mail, it’s the book we ordered from Amazon, or a birthday gift from our parents. When Bec Brittain gets a package, it’s usually full of dead bugs. She orders them in bulk off the internet for a dollar a pop, then chops them into pieces and transforms them into hybrid bug-monsters.
It's funny to hear Esther Stocker talk about reading between the lines. The Vienna-based painter is known for manipulating spatial geometry using the framework of the grid — both on canvas and in her trippy 3-D installations — until the mind starts making linear connections that aren't really there, trying to find order in the optically illusive chaos. But that's not what Stocker's referring to. She's talking about Charles Schultz's Peanuts.
At 22, Alexandra Verschueren has interned for Preen, Proenza Schouler, and Derek Lam. She’s been honored by a jury that included former Rochas creative director Olivier Theyskens and the International Herald Tribune’s fashion critic Suzy Menkes. And in the last six months, her graduate collection Medium has been fêted by Wallpaper magazine and the Mode Museum in her hometown of Antwerp. So why, when she applied to that city’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts straight out of high school, did no one expect she’d get in?