Collecting lays claim to cool
Enthusiasts find joy in hunting, gathering pieces
You’re looking for something to give your place that personal style you’ve heard so much about. You could use something interesting to talk about and show off when people come over. And you might welcome a mystery to dig into — well, now that “Game of Thrones” is over.
What you need is a collection.
“Collecting is intellectual stimulation, it’s social bonding, it’s organization,” says Dr. Shirley Mueller, a neuroscientist and collector whose new book “Inside the Head of a Collector: Neuropsychological Forces at Work” is scheduled for release in August.
Collecting is an ancient human impulse, one that often begins in childhood. And it delivers the straight dopamine: “People collect for one reason and that’s because it makes them feel good,” says Mueller. “When we’re anticipating getting a desired object, the pleasure centers of our brain light up — even more than they do once we have the object. Collectors get to do that over and over again.” Go ahead, take another hit off the eBay.
Plus, collecting, in spite of an image that had been stuck somewhere between fussy (fancy porcelain figurines) and childish
(Star Wars figurines) has suddenly laid claim to its own brand of cool. Witness, for example, the renewed obsession with vinyl records both old and new. The “urban jungle” trend of collecting as many houseplants as possible. Or the stats that show that millennials, though they may move more often than past generations and supposedly have an aversion to more “stuff,” are the fastest-growing segment of fine art buyers, outstripping Gen Xers.
Elise Maltby, a 31-yearold director of marketing who lives in small but tasteful Chicago apartment, has been collecting for nearly a decade. She started her collection of “old man paintings” — a group of hand-painted portraits of men — while working at her first job at Hindman auctions.
“I saw that some of the more contemporary pieces,
Dan and Julie Wheeler’s home is filled with things “that meant something to us from the past,” Dan Wheeler says.
Chicagoan Elise Maltby assembled her collection of “old man paintings” over the past 10 years, largely from auctions.
Among Arden Fanning’s collections are vintage faux Louis Vuitton bags that she inherited from her mother.