The Culture of Collecting The Culture of Collecting

The Culture of Collecting

Life is a collection of moments. Our own personal collections of unique artifacts represent precious memories and reveal a lot about our personalities and perspectives. Peer into someone’s den, peruse their walls or examine their shelves, you may be surprised how much you can learn about the individual who inhabits that space. Whether the collected pieces are considered artwork, vintage curios, rare specimens or historical objects, the art of collecting has become a culture in itself.

This February, acclaimed American artist Matthew McCormick and prominent streetwear label NEIGHBORHOOD launched a collaborative capsule collection. McCormick’s clothing label One Of These Days incorporates disparate elements of the Old West across a series of NEIGHBORHOOD signatures, sending collectors scrambling for that special garment.

Stoking the flame, we spoke to the two talented creators, Matthew McCormick and NEIGHBORHOOD founder Shinsuke Takizawa, about the culture of collecting. Let’s keep the spark alive!

It has been unusual time for everyone. How have you been?

MCCORMICK: Unusual to say the least. I try to have a glass half full mentality about everything so remaining as positive as I can. The negative effects on humanity have been depressing and the constant fear of getting Covid is quite unnerving, but the last year has been filled with immense growth in my practice and a lot of exciting projects. I’ve been able to really focus on my work and have been able to spend a lot of quality time with my girlfriend and dogs.

TAKIZAWA: It is hard to believe that this unordinary everyday is continuing much longer that everyone thought. 

Japan is currently state of emergent but we never really had “lock down” like the other countries, so although we need to control our activity, we are still pretty much the same in a lot of aspect. 

How do you discover/build your collection during this time period?

MCCORMICK: Being stuck at home has forced me to really study every inch of my living space, slowly building up my furniture collection and replacing pieces. I’m a big collector of books so I am constantly ordering more and more books. Always scouring the internet for deals on ones I’ve wanted forever.

TAKIZAWA:  It is very difficult to motivate myself to be passion about collecting, but I am actually buying friend’s artwork at this moment. 

Unfortunately, the Covid caused drop in the global economy and so to many individuals. How do you think about the situation?

MCCORMICK: It’s hard to say, I’ve seen both sides of it. On one hand I know that a lot of people were unfortunately severely effected monetarily and I’m sure they put on hold certain aspirations in regards to building their collections. On the other hand I think that the economic situation created a lot of ingenuity in collectors of all levels. The emerging artists market seemed to fair relatively well, on top of that, lower priced editions appeared to be a popular category as well. That doesn’t even take into consideration the resellers market which I’m sure a lot of people saw financial gain from.

TAKIZAWA: This is indeed a very difficult question. It depends on which country and city you are, but I think one common fact is that the economy is suffering. 

From business perspective, if you have any great idea during this uncertain time and actually execute to the ideas into business, it may show that there are some lucky people who can achieve success despite the situation.  

This moment is a turning point of establishing new culture of home collectibles. Do you think the pandemic has changed the culture of collecting?

MCCORMICK: It didn’t necessarily change the culture of collecting as it more just sped up certain trends that were forming. We’ve seen exponential growth in the online markets for art works and home collectibles year over year. Personally I am a huge proponent of this, as I find a lot of value in being able to reach collectors all over the world. If anything it has forced artists and dealers to become more savvy when its comes to their use of the internet. There is enough data at this point to demonstrate the inherent importance of an online element to the business of buying and selling artworks and collectibles. Separate from all that, I think people being stuck in their homes forced them to want to fill their homes with objects that they love and desire.

TAKIZAWA: Yes, it is true that entire earth of people spend much time in home due to this pandemic, and perhaps people look into home collection to comfort oneself. 

Do you think the home collectibles shape our lifestyle? How?

MCCORMICK: For some, not all. The definition of “home collectibles” can be a loose one. For some it could be original artworks, for another it could be rare plants or clothing, and so on. With that definition I would say that it definitely shapes our lifestyle. You end up associating with other collectors of the same items which creates a social element, you may end up becoming a dealer or creator of said items, it is pretty endless in how many ways it can play into ones existence.

TAKIZAWA: For me, collection or collecting have had a great impact on my life, and just not art.
It can be said that my life is surrounded by my collections

Photos by Mattew McCormick
Photos by Mattew McCormick 

Can you tell us about your personal collection?

MCCORMICK: As I mentioned earlier I am really into collecting books. Probably the first thing I seriously collected as an adult. It was my way of collecting something by artists that I couldn’t afford original works by yet. I’ve always has grandiose dreams of a massive at home library which is getting there slowly but surely. Outside of that I have been building an art collection over the years consisting of a lot of friends and family for the most part, but am branching out and being able to afford works outside that group. Other items I’m really into are classic music memorabilia, furniture, vintage ashtrays and plants.

TAKIZAWA: Art, motorcycle, automobile, watch, plants etc…

How did you begin collecting?

MCCORMICK:  When I was a kid I was super into sports cards. There was a small card store near my house that I would hang out at for hours, was almost like a daycare. That probably started the desire to own and build collections. As my interest grew so did my collecting.

TAKIZAWA: The culture and detail behind of the collection item. 

Do you follow the trends for your collecting?

MCCORMICK: I would say no, but depends on your definition of trends. There’s an audience for everything, just need to find them.

TAKIZAWA: I don’t think there are any particular trend I follow for collecting. 

What aspect do you look into the most when collecting?

MCCORMICK: I love having a piece of history. Those are the items that mean the most to me.

TAKIZAWA: Before I think about rarity or not, it’s rather you like it or not.

What is your favorite in your collection? Why?

MCCORMICK: Thats a tough one, there’s a few of equal importance. Dean Martin’s personal ashtray from his private hotel suite with a signed match book, Dr. Seuss’s first edition of his first book “Boners” from 1923, “Chaos & Cyber Culture” by Timothy Leary Signed by Timothy Leary to Laura Huxley (Wife of Aldous Huxley), An early painting by my father from 1972, and a pair of photos my mother took and developed in the darkroom at my childhood home of Stinson Beach and Bolinas. Finally my dad’s backstage pass and bootleg lot shirt from the same show that I just finally tracked down from a Grateful Dead show that my mom went into labor with me at.

They all are important personal and cultural artifacts that can’t be replicated. Almost all are one of ones if not very rare, but more importantly they all touch on elements of history and where I grew up in a way that are deeply personal to me.

TAKIZAWA: My favorite collection is canvas art by Futura which he exhibits for art exhibition “Command Z” a while ago in Japan. 

What / How do you think when you create something?  What do you think the future of the art market is headed?

MCCORMICK: I just try to make things that I would also like to collect.

TAKIZAWA: For anyone who is wearing clothes I designed and put the work I have ceased, is nothing but joy and appreciation.
It would make me so happy if various of people, from young and old who are interested in street wear and culture, can enjoy the wear and pieces. 

I do love art but I have no clue of the market or its trend.

But I can see how it will diversify into many elements more than now. 


Interview by AllRightsReserved 

Photos by Matthew McCormick, Sam Hayes and Shinsuke Takizawa