I grew up with catalogs. Sears, JC Penny, Montgomery Ward. Giant bibles of cool stuff. As a kid, I’d dive into the catalogs from cover to cover when they arrived in the mail, closely studying the toys, bikes, furniture, and the men’s clothes.
I haven’t flipped through these “cultural artifacts” in nearly 40 years. When I did, I got lost again. Page after page was jampacked with so much information—practical, like over-sized pricing, and editorial, like the idealized man in everyday scenarios. Doing a deep dive into these vintage catalogs as an adult—and with a 21 st century lens—showed me how much of a role “the tools of consumerism” informed the foundation of my identity—and how I viewed and compared myself to others.
When I started the series, I wanted to create evidence of how I consumed imagery and messages that I had a deep, charged history with. I started from instinct, not overthinking the process—like I did when I was “shopping”: culling, layering, extracting, and incorporating other materials and techniques that connected with the experience and subject matter—sewing patterns, pencil-drawn grids, tape transfers.
The final collection illustrates how I look out to look in—and look out again. The messy visual narrative is what it felt like to catalog my experience with content focused on buying what you can be.