Why do I collect?

The massively popular video game/TV series known as Pokemon made its way into my life when I was roughly eight years old. I remember attending a rabbit show that my mother was a part of and receiving my very first Pokemon trading card; a Squirtle (Fig. 1). At the time, I had no idea how much prominence these little pocket monsters would have throughout my life, but what I did know is that they made me happy, and the thrill of collecting trading cards took off from that point.

(Fig. 1) 1999 Squirtle Pokemon TC

As I grew older into my early teens I continued to collect Pokemon trading cards; to be honest I think every kid did. Back then we had a small collectible card shop located on Bryan’s square. I have wonderful memories of taking trips to this shop with my younger brother and father. Every Wednesday after my father would get off from work he would drive us to the shop, give both of us $2, and let us go pick out some cards. The owner of the shop, who was an incredibly nice man, would greet us every week and slip us rare Pokemon promo cards for free. It became my candyland, my heaven, a place where nothing ever was bad. As the years went by I amassed quite the collection of cards (Fig. 2); filling a number of binders. Eventually the card shop closed down due to trading cards dwindling popularity among kids; however I continued to collect.

(Fig. 2) My binder collection of cards

Even to this day I have never stopped collecting; though my standards on quality has shifted. The aspect of monetary value and investment value has been slowly integrating into my overall love for collecting; something that I had never considered as a kid. I have recently started collecting PSA (Professional Sports Authenticators) graded Pokemon Cards (Fig. 3). These cards are professionally graded and authenticated in order to preserve their monetary value over extended periods of time. For example, lets say you have a card that is worth $10 ungraded; just the card and nothing else. That same card, if given a “Gem-Mint 10” rating by PSA, would have it’s worth increased to potentially $100+; all because it had been authenticated and placed in a vacuum sealed preservation case.

(Fig. 3) My current 2013-2017 PSA Graded Pokemon Cards

Now, some may raise the question: “Matthew, as a 27 year old man, why do you collect these things?” The short answer is simply LOVE. As cheesy as it sounds, love plays a major part in why anyone collects. The love of the hunt, the love of the items, the love of the memories, the love of the experiences; both past and present. When I acquire a new card, I remember the good times that I had with my father, the experiences of trading cards with my friends, and the joy of walking into that card shop on Bryan’s square. The ability to relive moments of my life that brought me such tremendous amounts joy is addictive, but not in an intrusive way. Just like a journal, these cards provide a chronological calendar to my life. I have cards that comforted me when I was involved in a horrible car wreck at the age of fifteen. Other cards that documented my trip to the first Pokemon movie at the age of ten. And of course that Squirtle card that started it all back in 1999. We all have those special mementos that we cherish and preserve. What are yours?

P.S. Here is a great Ted Talk about why we collect: Click Here

The Goldmine

  1. When one begins to gather “fragments of blue dense,” one might think one is paying tribute to the blue wholes from which they came. But a bouquet is no homage to the bush. Over the years I have amassed countless blue stones, blue shards of glass, blue marbles, trampled blue photographs peeled off sidewalks, pieces of blue rubble from broken buildings, and though I can’t remember where most of them came from, I love them nonetheless. – Maggie Nelson


Every evening I stroll out to my car, throw my ladder, gloves, and crowbar into the back, and drive to the goldmine. The ladder, which I lazily never tie down, slides and rattles in my car’s interior with every turn. I try to leave at around 7:45pm, knowing that it will be 8pm by the time I reach my destination; the exact moment when all the employees who work at the goldmine go home for the day. While I am rarely concerned with others noticing my presence, I do try to make my desires unobtrusive for others. After a brief drive I reach my point of interest, giddy with excitement. The clock strikes 8pm and all is clear; my window of opportunity begins.

I pull my car around to the back of the complex where the goldmine entrance lays; Its rusted brown walls reflecting the evening sunset as I approach. Blurs of foreign objects protruding from the entrance come into focus as I park my car alongside it. It’s going to be a fruitful evening. With roughly an hour of sunlight left at my disposal, there’s no time for me to waste; I get to work. My first priority is to scout out the goldmine and observe the general contents left that day. Will the goldmine make me rich beyond my wildest dreams, or will I go for broke? Fortunately today, it appears that many treasures await me. With a smile freshly formed on my face, I retrieve my ladder and dawn my gloves.

As I sift through the piles of clutter and dirt, I start to pull out pieces of gold. Broken table legs, outdated electronics, storage containers, children’s toys, memories, experiences, time. Each piece of gold confines in me its desire to become something more; more than mere memories remembered by no one. Like a child picking out their first dog at a pet store, I feel somewhat heartbroken as I am forced to pick and choose who gets to be removed from the goldmine, and who will remain. If I had my way I would certainly take them all, but space and transportation limits me. With a pile of gold growing at the base of my ladder, and the sun slowly falling below the horizon, I decide to call it a day. The treasures I obtained are joyful to leave the goldmine, and I am joyful for their existence and future life. A loud thud echoes as I close up my car and drive away, only to return to the goldmine the next evening.


Never Letting Go


Hello everyone, and happy summer! Hopefully everyone has been taking some time to rest up and recharge their batteries. I thought I would take a moment to briefly talk about my plans for these crucial next two and a half months of work.

One of my biggest fears as summer approached was finding a studio space back home to work in; since there is literally no room in my parent’s house. To give you an idea as to how little space there is for me to work back home, 18 out of the 20 pieces in my portfolio that I submitted for application to CCAD, I created on my bed; no joke. Luckily, I was able to score a beautiful storage locker situated in my hometown of Bryan OH, and it will serve as my temporary studio for the summer. It is roughly 14’x40′.

Next on the agenda: finding STUFF. Back in Columbus, acquiring misc. items was fairly easy and everything was within walking distance. However, back home in the sticks I have had to readjust my approach due to fewer junk hotspots; not to mention those hotspots being mush farther distances from me. However, amidst the endless miles of cornfields I knew there was one holy grail: Goodwill. As a former employee to Goodwill in Bryan OH, I have noticed that literally pounds and pounds of junk is tossed out on a daily basis; mostly because the items are either broken or not of quality for selling. All of these damaged goods are then thrown into a massive pull away dumpster; my goldmine. I have found my STUFF!

So what are my plans for this summer? I have started a new project that I like to call Never Letting Go, an exploration into hoarding disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, particularly the rituals associated with them. This project will include:

  • Documentation of every item that I acquire over the summer.
  • Research into the rituals and habits tied to OCD and hoarding disorder.
  • Research into emotional attachment to objects.
  • Investigation into my own personal experiences with both disorders.
  • Constructing a body of work that reflects all of the above.

I am excited for this opportunity to dive deep into topics that are close to my heart. These next two and a half months are going to fly by, but like Ric and Molly instills in us all: you just have to go out and do it. I’ll be posting on my blog every week with what I have been up to, so keep an eye out.