Artists Are Collectors, Not Hoarders

My Starbucks mug collection thus far.

My Starbucks mug collection thus far.

I’m a designer, therefore I collect things. We all do. We keep hoards of paper and print samples, collect tee shirts with great typography or vintage art on them, and just tend to keep extensive collections of stuff. When I attended the HOW Design Conference in San Francisco in 2014, the opening keynote was Austin Kleon (artist and author “Steal Like an Artist”) and he said, “Artists are collectors, not hoarders.” This is so true. We do collect things, but we’re not scary hoarders who end up on reality TV with poop in jars.

I collect many things, but my collections must serve a purpose since I have very little space in my townhouse. One of the things I started collecting last year were the Starbucks city/state/country mugs. I completely fell in love with the “You Are Here” collection, which is heavily graphic, brightly colored and uses clean typography. I do enjoy the global icons as well, but I’m not as thrilled with the typography and lack of bold colors. My favorite is the relief collection, but that is only available for very select cities.

As designers, we are constantly looking for inspiration and we try to surround ourselves with very well designed things. I consider my mug collection one of those things. I was doing a conference branding last year for a running company, and I was inspired by the color palette of my Orange County mug, which I ended up using for the branding as the event took place in southern California. When I did a travel-themed campaign for my company, the simple, colorful illustrations on the mug inspired the style I was looking for.

If you see my collection in its entirety, I probably do look like a bit of a hoarder, but the bottom line is that I actually use them all. I drink lots of coffee and hot tea, so I rotate my mugs around to make sure they all get used. I also will not allow the collection to expand beyond what can be held in this bookshelf. And finally, it’s responsible for two really great design ideas I had, so I figure that’s worth the space invested.

Get inspired by my collection and share yours. What do you like to collect? What inspires your designs?

The Chicago You Are Here mug is my favorite. It has stunning illustrations, beautiful colors and totally captures the highlights of the Windy City.

The Chicago You Are Here mug is my favorite. It has stunning illustrations, beautiful colors and totally captures the highlights of the Windy City.

The Denver mug features Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is one of my favorite Colorado spots and definitely the country's best concert venue.

The Denver mug features Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is one of my favorite Colorado spots and definitely the country’s best concert venue.

The global icons are not my favorite because I don't like the typography and dull colors, but I do like the water tower being on the Chicago mug.

The global icons are not my favorite because I don’t like the typography and dull colors, but I do like the water tower being on the Chicago mug.

I love the little lizard. He's so cute.

I love the little lizard. He’s so cute.

The global icons are not my favorite because I don't like the typography and dull colors, but I do like the Memphis mug with the music features.

The global icons are not my favorite because I don’t like the typography and dull colors, but I do like the Memphis mug with the music features.

The global icons are not my favorite because I don't like the typography and dull colors, but I do like the London mug a lot.

The global icons are not my favorite because I don’t like the typography and dull colors, but I do like the London mug a lot.

The cool thing about the mugs are the small details. Notice the pineapple on the Waikiki Mug.

The cool thing about the mugs are the small details. Notice the pineapple on the Waikiki Mug.

The cool thing about the mugs are the small details. Notice the guitar on the Nashville mug.

The cool thing about the mugs are the small details. Notice the guitar on the Nashville mug.

Aside from the relief mugs, these are my favorites of the mugs I currently have with Chicago being the #1.

Aside from the relief mugs, these are my favorites of the mugs I currently have with Chicago being the #1.

My second favorite batch of mugs. I love the Denver mug since I live here, but also because it has Red Rocks Amphitheater on it.

My second favorite batch of mugs. I love the Denver mug since I live here, but also because it has Red Rocks Amphitheater on it.

I love the relief mugs with the strong contrast between the navy and white and the single full color icon on each one. Of course they picked the cable car.

I love the relief mugs with the strong contrast between the navy and white and the single full color icon on each one. Of course they picked the cable car.

Love the interior of the relief mugs since that is where they list the city.

Love the interior of the relief mugs since that is where they list the city.

7 thoughts on “Artists Are Collectors, Not Hoarders

  1. Those relief mugs are beautiful. As a designer myself, I find that I’m very very guilty of ‘collecting’ paper – pamplets, brochures, business cards, wrapping paper, craft paper and even bond paper in different gsm and textures. Ironically, I’m also not very fond of handling paper though, because I’m terrified of paper cuts.

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    • Right?! I collect a lot of paper. I literally took an entire second suitcase to my HOW Design Conference just to be able to bring back all of the paper samples and books. It was empty going and came home, nearly at the airline’s weight limit! Paper cuts are a rarity for me, but I have had many incidents with an Xacto knife, so I’m a bit frightened of those! 🙂

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