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My first printed piece, a map complete with a cover illustration. My first big corporate Identity. An invitation. Posters. Some school work. Lots of school work. Business cards, envelopes, letterheads and mailing labels. Folders. 50 copies of a brand book and 10 copies of another. A 3’ X 10’ canvas sample banner. Pins, brochures, a mug, branded polo shirts, 35mm slides out the wazoo. Audit photographs and beauty shots. Old, personal business cards. Sketches—I have stacks. Paper samples. Credit card comps. Presentation boards. Typographic studies. Pantone chips taped to paper, drawdowns, proofs and uncut printer’s sheets. CDs and DVDs. Backups and backups of backups of school work and work-work. Newsletters—a pile of each one. Shampoo bottles and logos pressed in soap. Meeting notes. Baseball caps with logos and one-off baseball caps with exploratory logos just used for presentations. Save the date cards. Animations on disks. Guideline manuals and guideline CDs. Blocks of material samples. Letter samples for signs. Tracing paper sketches which would only be complete if you could somehow find the page they were built upon. Proposals, pitches and presentation decks. Creative briefs.

Maybe that’s it.

A few moths ago, I packed up my family and moved. Not across the country but from state to state and from an apartment into a house. We have more room than before. We knew well in advance and packed little by little. Although I didn’t have an obscene amount of personal stuff, I did have a good amount of design work which I had collected over the years. I’m not talking about the design books or collectibles. None of those were in question. It was the personal design archive which needed to be evaluated. I had boxes and boxes and my wife’s question when looking inside of any of them was, “Do you really need more than one of those?”

Of course I needed all of it.

“Where are they going to go in our new home,” she asked, already knowing that her answer was, “in the new attic or basement.” [Don’t freak out, Speak Up readers, I’m aware that attics and basements are generally not 100% accurately climate and humidity-controlled.]

After sitting on the floor packing one day, looking through some personal design history, I realized she was right—I don’t need to keep everything. I don’t need 200 sheets of a letterhead I designed that I don’t even like and for which I didn’t even design the logo. I don’t need the 3’X10’ sample banner with just a logo on it which has been folded up for oh, 7 years or so since the day I brought it home. And I don’t need 35mm slides which have been scanned in and backed up.

So, although much of it made the move but still remains in boxes, and unless anyone wants any autographed David Weinberger design memorabilia, I’m throwing it away. I’ll keep a few nice pieces but the rest is history.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 2727 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Jun.23.2006 BY David Weinberger
Frank’s comment is:

How about the Smithsonian?

Email: info@si.edu
Address: Smithsonian Information
PO Box 37012
SI Building, Room 153, MRC 010
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Phone: 202.633.1000

On Jun.23.2006 at 08:45 AM
Jason B.’s comment is:

I can relate, David. I'm something of a pack rat myself (a trait common among designers?) and my wife and I just moved as well. I have a lot of boxes full of "stuff" and less room to store them. This "stuff" seems important to me, I packed it up and moved it nearly 600 miles! But, maybe I should follow your example and re-evaluate. One box at a time.

Baby steps.

On Jun.23.2006 at 09:17 AM
Randy J. Hunt’s comment is:

Surely you have a photographer friend you can swindle for an identity trade and have them wade through and shoot everything that isn't shot...then off to a clean new tomorrow.

On Jun.23.2006 at 09:54 AM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

I feel your pain. Having moved every 2 years over the past 12 years, I most recently left Seattle and headed cross-country to Charlotte, North Carolina. I kept everything and am glad I did. Whether or not it sits on my shelves forever, some of the books and magazines will one day be donated to a university's library—where students will most likely use the goods more than I.

During these moves, you have to ask yourself, "Will I be able to live the rest of my life without this?" If yes, then it's trash—unless of course you have strong emotional ties to it (in which case, it'll turn into a fine dust collector that you pick up every once in a while and wax nostalgic).

On Jun.23.2006 at 10:46 AM
jenn.suz.hoy’s comment is:

I took a very Zen approach to the whole packing up the old design stuff when I moved (a good 700-driving miles move from Massachusetts to North Carolina) - I left it behind. I didn't trash it, I didn't bring it, I just left it. Granted, I had that ability as there are still family members living in the old house, and when they move it will probably be trashed. But, I was fresh off my Semester of Zen (a literature class my senior year), and emotionally prepared to say goodbye to it.

My philosophy was: If I didn't take the time to shoot it before packing it up in boxes and garbage bags (for storage, not for trashing), then I was never really in love with it anyway.

Though, I never thought my apartment walls would be so barren...

On Jun.23.2006 at 11:07 AM
Bone’s comment is:


I just recently did the same thing and I must say it was quite cathartic as well as ... rewarding. I'll explain that later.

We recently moved as well, not cross country, nor state to state, nor even city to city. It was virtually across the street.

Yet, the collection of books, magazines, commercial samples, paper promotions and all were moved right along with everything else with hopes of getting them out of the lawyer boxes and in the fresh air for ready reference.

But, seeing these boxes stacked 3 and 4 high on 3/4's of the floor in the spare bedroom (which we knew would become a nursery) just seemed daunting and and even frivolous.

I decided then and there that i would apply a 90/10 rule. 90% of it was either crap or stuff I did not need. The other 10% would be the the equivalent of the surfing trophies of my youth. Defending them with phrases the likes of "Hells no! I am not getting rid of that!"

What did I do with the 90%? I did what I thought I would be doing years from now when I retire - donating what was not really meant for recycling anyway.

I thought that if I kept everything they would do what they have done for the last 15 years of my career - sit in boxes to never be looked at because it is not the most efficient system.

So I called my buddy Jason T. and told him I wanted to donate my collection to UNCC. He happily accepted.

Now I have a compact archive of things I truly want.

Good luck with it.

On Jun.23.2006 at 12:05 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

I have the opposite problem. When I sold my former company and left, I tried to squirrel away as many samples as I could of the best stuff, but going through archived files and retrieving sketches and comps was not possible. I took home several folders, tubes and boxes with 9 yrs' worth of design shit (but why oh *why* did I leave them my old Emigre and Critique magazines???), but mysteriously at least one of those boxes/folders has disappeared. There are several things, mostly posters, that I distictly remember taking samples of and no longer seem to have.

This is the moving equivalent of the sock-eating-dryer. It seems like every time I move something mysteriously vanishes, never to be seen again.

Anyway, as a result my archives are distinctly manageable. I even went through it a year or so ago and threw out all but one sample of most things. A practice which I'm sure the Smithsonian will appreciate when the time comes. (Thanks Frank.)

On Jun.23.2006 at 12:14 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Mr. Bone says, So I called my buddy Jason T. and told him I wanted to donate my collection to UNCC. He happily accepted.

And thank you so much. Accepting it was easy... moving it all was another tale. Our students at UNC-Charlotte have been using those materials for months now, and we're ever so thankful to you and your wife Shannon.

On Jun.23.2006 at 01:29 PM
Bill Sintic’s comment is:

I have the same issues, seems to take it's course and every five years or so we clean house, well sort of? we also have what my office manager refers to as the “Time Capsule” things like an old hand waxer and roller for keylining, as well as handy dividers and more. don't ever think I'll be able to throw some of these things away. heck like my dad always say, some day that stuff could be worth alot of money. yeah right dad?

On Jun.23.2006 at 03:54 PM
Bill Sintic’s comment is:

I have the same issues, seems to take it's course and every five years or so we clean house, well sort of? we also have what my office manager refers to as the “Time Capsule” things like an old hand waxer and roller for keylining, as well as handy dividers and more. don't ever think I'll be able to throw some of these things away. heck like my dad always say, some day that stuff could be worth alot of money. yeah right dad?

On Jun.23.2006 at 03:54 PM
Bone’s comment is:

@ Jason:

No thanks necessary, you have already become horse doing so.

Plus, just knowing that the students are getting use out of the stuff is thanks enough.

- Bone

On Jun.23.2006 at 05:07 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

In a few weeks I HAVE TO head down to my Lousiana house and clear out my packed studio for the contruction guys to rip out the carpet... This is not something I dread, but I don't look forward to it. It's been sitting there for 10 months along with the other damage. Hurricanes force editing one's possessions into the Useful and the Useless...

Has anyone seen the small book on New Orleans refrigerators? Called "Spoiled" by Tom Varisco. Pretty funny, considering.

Last time I went thru there'd been some looting in the house, so everything in my studio was scattered all over the floor. Whatever were they looking for? I was walking on drawings and files looking for a favorite pen. I'm not sentimental about the stuff. Paper is paper. I can draw new things. If I left it behind it's nothing to me now. It's almost all going in a black garbage bags, except for the few books and oddities I want to save. I'll make a new studio, no problem. It'll be OK.

On Jun.23.2006 at 09:15 PM
Frank’s comment is:

Honestly, it seems that we're losing a lot of good design work to the dustbins of history. I think we're all going to kick ourselves in 50 years and say "What were we thinking?" Books and documents get the Library of Congress, why not have a National Design Repository that houses design for the rest of us (for those of us whose works can't make it into the Cooper-Hewitt)? I'm sure we could fill it up.

On Jun.23.2006 at 11:12 PM
Mr. One-Hundred’s comment is:

I went to a design conference last year in Chicago and gathered, as you do, 27lb worth of samples and promo items which I was quite happy to lug around for a couple of days knowing I could “pack and post” it on the last day. I live in Australia. They said it would cost me $400 to send it back home. So I lugged it around Chicago for a couple more days until my wife informed me that we would not be booking an extra seat for the box on the flights from Chcago to New York, and New York to Brisbane. I took it down to the US Postal Service, paid my $45 and tearfully sent it on its way home. When it arrived 10 weeks later, I put it under my desk and said to myself “I will sort through that shortly”

There it still sits, unopenned after one whole year.

On Jun.26.2006 at 12:37 AM