Are we Collectors or Hoarders?

~ * ~

This article is written by Ann Strecko Koemen

Whenever I have a new visitor to my studio/basement I often hear comments such as: “Oh my….you have so much stuff…” Most people just let their jaws drop open while their minds are trying to take it all in with their eyes wide open too! I also have heard: “How do you find anything?” Usually these comments come from my non creative voyeurs. My craftier friends and loved ones love my space but do express envy at the sight of all that I have. I have been accused of being a hoarder of course as well as being obsessive compulsive, a clean freak, and super organized. So I know to take their comments lightly. I believe these visitors have watched the American television program that likes to exploit people who have serious issues by scandalously sharing these people’s living quarters which are usually a health and fire hazard. I assure you that I do not come even close to that description. I live in a well maintained, clean, and orderly home on the main level. However, half of the basement is MINE!. I am after all an artist that dabbles in many forms of art and crafting, and so I am well equipped.

Tips on how you can fix your things

I thought I would do a little bit of research on this topic. By definition collecting refers to the bringing together or the accumulating of objects. On the other hand, hoarding, which by the way is an Americanized term, refers to the non specific collecting of anything and garbage with no goal in mind.

There is a fine line here between the Artistic hoarding disorder and Artistic accumulation. Let me shed some light on this topic to alleviate any fears.

Tips on how you can fix your things

Artistic accumulation involves care whereby one takes the time to store, organize, and even label accumulated materials for future use. Hoarding, does not.

There is also specificity involved in Artistic Accumulation, where the collector looks for materials which are related to a specific media or project. Hoarders are non specific. Artistic Collectors have Intent. Artists intend or have an idea as to why they are collecting the materials. The artist usually has a vision of the intended project to be. A hoarder has no such vision. Artistic Accumulation also involves production and creation, whereas hoarding has no vision of completing any project. The artist who accumulates a lot of materials also is balanced and will spend more time creating rather than collecting  the accumulating artist USES the materials. The Hoarder, does not.

Perhaps in future articles I will describe some of the many organizational methods I practice. Until then ….

be forewarned future visitors, my studio is big and full, it is also a productive and buzzing hive dominated by one super hard working Queen bee!

Tips on how you can fix your things


Ann is a mixed media artist collecting and living in the countryside of Ottawa,  Ontario Canada. She and her family live in a big house that can hold all her stuff and more!  No pets or family members have ever gone missing in there.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Technorati Tags: , ,


  1. Marsha Reed says:

    Actually, I consider myself both a collector and a hoarder. 🙂 I do have a lot of stuff most of which I use up and go add more. I’m also a hoarder because there are some things I just haven’t had the heart to part with as of yet. Enjoyed this article.

  2. tina mendenhall says:

    I am a avid collector of found objects and I am trying to get into trash books and art journals but I see a lot of people use all those expensive products I have 16 kids and my money is tied up with them how can I create if I can’t afford the products do you have any suggestions

  3. Ar Schneller says:

    Thanks for putting my mind at ease. It’s healthy to toss some stuff or donate it if you don’t use it. This past weekend I filled my trunk and seats with things i really won’t ever use or have too much of and threw them away. I volunteer at an art center and realized I don’t need to collect so much! My main goal, to do more with less, using the art supplies I have spent years acquiring. So I stay out of the dollar stores and away from garage sales, no matter what the temptation. I’m organizing objects that go together in clear tubs easily for classes or projects so I can grab them and go. When I come back, I put things where they belong. This is all helping me see the importance that I should respect my valuable time and that the more organized I am, the less junk I have, the more time I have to create. Thanks so much of saying what you did, I no longer feel like a hoarder, but need to be a tad more organized.

  4. Victoria says:

    Great article! I purchased over $20,000 (cash, no debt) worth of art supplies and afterwards, enrolled in art school. When someone comments on how much stuff I own, I tell them I’m pursuing art as a career, not a hobby. Therefore, EVERYTHING in my studio will be used sooner or later. When someone comments on how organized my studio is (I purchased storage items including custom-built shelving), I tell them it takes REAL creativity to be able to make art while still managing to be keep my studio neat and clean at the same time!

  5. Seth says:

    Wonderful article. I am sure many readers — including myself — can relate!

  6. kathleen codyrachel says:

    At this point I feel more hoarder though it is all art supplies they are not as organized as well as I would like & they are upstairs as well as basement goal is to convert basement but (there’s always an excuse – I’ve been quite ill) and on more than a few occasions art supplies were the reward for a particularly painful day or week or two – am in process of trying to organize at times an overwhelming feeling

  7. I can definitely relate to this; my kids often tease me (jokingly, I hope) about being a hoarder, but like you, I collect with intention, and much of it does get used in my mixed media art. I would love to read about your organizational strategies sometime.

  8. Lin Collette says:

    I get the same reaction from people although I will admit to being an actual recovering hoarder – not as bad as the ones on the TV show but bad enough.
    I live in a 2 1/2 room apartment and so space is at a premium. My entire place is a studio basically but like you said, it’s orderly, there’s room to walk, I don’t have stuff in fridge, on the stove, on the counters, on the floors everywhere. I’m an artist and I need this stuff to work. As it is, I’m very careful about what I buy simply because of the space issues.

    And I am often giving stuff away too.

    People don’t understand artists or creative sorts. Easy for them to think we’re hoarders when we’re not.

  9. Glad to know that I’m only a little bit of a hoarder! I live in Ottawa as well, would love to get crafty/artsy with you!

  10. Lynn Radford says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. While I freely admit to being a collector, I tend to hoard supplies. Does that make sense? Also, on one level, the majority of my supplies are organized, but on another, there are bits of this and that strewn about my studio because I’m easily swept from one project to another, and am often in the midst of several at once! Wish there was room to post pics here…. 😀

  11. Linda says:

    Wow, you have a lot of stuff but looks very organized! I too have a nice studio space which I transformed my living room into my studio last year. I am a artist/ designer I rely on my biz which is my only income, but do go through my supplies once a year and donate things I have abundance of to charity, clear space up to add things I use more often on a weekly basis. It is a must to have things organized where you can find them and keep the cluttered look down is key to me 🙂 Happy creating, thank-you for sharing your thoughts with all of us.

  12. barbara s says:

    i enjoyed this article … It really hit home with me … There are some people who say that i’m a hoarder and i need to down-size . While i definitely have a hoarder gene in me, i do not appreciate the implication that i collect garbage …it makes me feel bad even when we joke about it .. yes i do need to get rid of lots of stuff … it’s amazing what you can collect when you live in a home for over 20 years … and i wish i could bring back the organizer lady i had … but.i just can’t afford it … And maybe it’s an excuse but i can’t physically do much of the needed labor …And as for my “bonus/craft-art/room …. it’s a very large collection of craft and art supplies … if you’re visiting … you can come and play with me . 🙂 …
    I think from now on .. i’m going to stop comparing myself to those sad people on tv … i do relate to some of their issues … but NO …. there are no dead animals, bugs and poop in my home ..I may not be Ms American Housewife … (much to my husband’s dismay) … But you can come and visit.. stay and eat …breakfast is my favorite meal to make these days … Home made Waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream ! .. I guess i have what used to be called a “grandma’s house” so roll your eyes and stay in your minimalist environment and have your tofu turkey.. We have real food at my house … and we’ll use the special set of dishes and the good silverware …..And if you’re not into football… can play downstairs in my well stocked art room .
    … wow I think i feel better now 🙂

  13. Rita says:

    I am pretty sure hoarding is picking up garbage that you will never use or need and has no sentimental value. Sentimental value can exceed the money value. How is keeping things to landmark times in your life that cost you effort, time, money and emotion hoarding? There is a more sinister intent when a person who is creatively talented is actively engaged for therapeutic reasons or what have to you, a living space filled with things related to arts and crafts who is malisciously being called a hoarder. I do not appreciate it and I do not reccomend entertaining the idea. You can collect things for a lifetime and keep everything its your life and as for those who are hoarding the idea of hoarding in the wrong places such as collecting or arts and crafts they really need to back off.

We would love to hear from you