Obsessive Consumption

I was given the book called Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman-Burt and while I enjoyed the illustrations, I didn’t really know what to make of it at first. Cute, I thought, but what’s the point of drawing pretty much everything one buys? I started reading the intro and all of a sudden the book took another another meaning:

Why focus on consumerism? Money and purchasing and the problems with money and the emotional connection to buying products have been a constant in my life. When the women in my family get together, we go shopping. We discuss important issues in our lives over sale racks instead of the kitchen table. This is how I learned to communicate.

My first venture into documenting what I call Obsessive Consumption began in 2002, when I started photographing everything I purchased. This project lasted two years. In the fall of 2004 I began to hand draw my credit card statements. I’ll continue drawing them until they are all paid off. The drawings in this book started as a quilty pleasure – a break from drawing those statements, which are not too enjoyable to draw (which is the point, of course.)

G and I started talking about how we were raised when it comes to shopping. We were saying how glad we are that we are not ‘shoppers’. After a few minutes we looked at each other and said: “Wait a second, we ARE shoppers, we shop ONLINE. We just don’t go into stores!” Oops!

Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?, by Kate Bingaman-Burt (Make sure to read all her little comments next to her illustrations. Truly entertaining!)

(thank you for the book, katharine)

11 Comments leave a comment below

  1. I am currently taking a ‘Consumer Behavior’ class at my university and we were charged with making a 2 week log of all of our purchases in order to analyze our own consumer habits and rationales…

    I immediately thought of Ms. Bingaman-Burt and her lovely blog (didn’t know it had made the leap to book form!) and have been illustrating my purchases as well as logging them.

    You never know how expensive and trivial that daily Starbucks run seems until you have to draw a venti latte 14 times :)

  2. this is really awesome! (I am a shopaholic) The pictures are sooo cute. Seems like an incredibly fun project.

  3. There’s something rather odd about BUYING a book about consumption. Unless the book is championing consumption, but it doesn’t sound as though it is.

    It’s like Real Simple…there’s something contradictory about buying a magazine about living the simple, uncluttered life, because the magazine just turns into clutter.

  4. Thanks so much Tina!

    Anna – I agree, there is something odd about buying a book about consumption, but there are so many contradictions and emotions involved when consuming (guilt, joy etc). My work has a lot of cyclical patterns, and this book falls right into place amongst them.

    Thanks again all for your comments! I appreciate them!

  5. I ordered the limited addition book + original drawing about an hour ago. I can’t wait to get the set!

  6. I saw her credit card drawings at a show in Milwaukee a couple of years back. Her work is memorable. Good to see that she is getting more exposure.

  7. Yaay, congrats again Kate –

    I pride myself slightly in being the sole reason for the only swear in the entire book for my old “Please ****ing Vote” shirts from October 08.

    Yay yaay!

  8. beautiful illustrations

  9. She’s in the new ReadyMade, very interesting stuff.

  10. Really like this post. Buying a book about someone else’s consumerism is very intriguing, I will definitely check it out!

  11. I used to have a friend from Baltimore over on an exchange to Scotland who wrote everything, EVERYTHING that he did each day in a wee book, I found it quite bemusing but also more than a little scarey.