Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: purge or save?

purge or save?


As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm going through some major shifting and sifting of stuff in our house. One area of purges is through my very old issues of art magazines, mostly from the 90's and a few older. The majority of these are Canadian Art, Vanguard, an art criticism mag published between 1976 and 1984 by the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Border Crossings from my old home city of Winnipeg.

There are also some Finnish design magazines and small exhibition catalogues from around the world passed on to me over a decade ago by a good friend whose well-travelled and arts-loving Finnish mother was moving into a care home at that time. Inside one of the magazines, I found some delicate and lovely pressed leaves that I will preserve digitally. During breaks, I'm enjoying rereading a few articles, such as about the rebirth of Marimekko in the 90's under the creative and brilliant direction of Kirsti Paakkanen.

I've hung on to these for too many years thinking I will reread them, but since I have not, it's time to say goodbye. I love well-done print design and articles about art and artists and hate to just throw them into recycling, so I hope to find a new home for them, via something like Freecycle. Instead of the more violent act of purging, I can choose the gentle act of sharing. Is there an art student out there eager to have them?

What do you do with your old but good magazines and catalogues?

Marja-Leena | 30/06/2008 | 16 comments
themes: Being an Artist


An age old problem, this! We have a recycling center where we can take old but good magazines, clothing, books, etc. I also like to donate things like this to schools. Art teachers can always use such things. We have Freecycle here, but I don't like to give out my address to people I don't know.

Oh dear - thinking of the piles of New Yorker magazines that accumulate until I give up and periodically throw them in the recycling bin. I have saved some Cooks Illustrated magazines because they behave like very thin cookbooks (of which I also have too many...). If I had lovely design magazines I'm sure I'd hold onto them until forced to unload them. I am, however, bringing three bags of books (some I haven't even read) to a books donation place tomorrow before the big move. That means they're also off my to-do list, which is double relief.

Mine go to my doctor's and dentist's surgeries, the local playgroup to cut up for collage or to recycling. I don't let them accumulate - then they become a collection.

Joan, thanks for the tip re donating to art teachers (though school's out now) and that's a thought re Freecycle, hmm... though it hasn't bothered one of my daughters who uses them all the time. I'm trying to get rid of an old hide-a-bed sofa through them.

Leslee, I used to save mags with recipes but gave up because I never got around to trying them all! I do pass some magazines and books to the charities that pick up. Nice that you have a place to take them. When my father passed away, I gave some of his Finnish books to the local Finnish seniors' centre and church.

Anna, that's a good idea! Somehow I don't think my doctor's and dentist's offices would care for my ancient art magazines! I no longer subscribe to anything but the National Geographic (and save them!) yet there are a lot of freebies I keep a few months only and usually put out in recycling at the curb. Really needs discipline, good for you!

See, this is why I'm such a big believer in magazines going digital. You keep them thinking you'll use them for reference, but how likely is that? Most magazines don't even have annual indexes any more - but if they were online, it actually WOULD be possible to search them.

Yes, Dave, absolutely! I think since becoming such a computer addict, I haven't read as many paper magazines. Saves trees too! I'm looking forward to less clutter in my studio and bookshelves even while my computer's bookmarks grow and grow.

My problem is a special variant of the packrat syndrome. Up in the loft are copies of the magazine I edited during the ten years before I retired. They represent the period I was professionally happiest and did my best work. The subject matter (logistics) makes them unsuitable for dentists' coffee tables. Recycle them? But that's a large chunk of my life. Hopelessly Sentimental of Hereford UK needs help.

Barrett, I'd be saving those too, in your shoes! So call me a sentimental packrat. My professional variant is all my art work - since I make editions of my prints, I usually have at minimum one copy and often more, of almost all the work I ever did. That's a lot of storage, though paper is more compact than paintings, or..gasp...sculpture! Maybe it's time to make miniprints.

I know the problem! I purged my library of magazines going back to the 60s by giving them to friends, re-reading and tearing out pages which were given a limited lifespan, using the paper to cover envelopes when writing to a couple of so-inclined friends, using interesting photographs as wrapping paper, scanning into the computer to keep there, ....

Now I keep magazines in IKEA card mag.files, and when they are full I take out the earliest as I file the latest one. I read again the one I'm chucking, and then give it to a friend who passes it on.

Olga, using the magazines for collage is one of the things I've been meaning to do, but haven't! Now you are tempting me to hang on to them for scanning; should I put them back in my IKEA wood files now, hmm? Maybe not...

I've still to tackle more piles stored elsewhere. We've scheduled a charity pickup for next Monday for household stuff so may put some of the less artsy magazines with that. They go to secondhand goods shops. I don't like to think of what happens to stuff that doesn't sell. Our world is groaning under too much waste.

Don't worry about letting go of the old mags. You just have to be more disciplined about using up the new ones more immediately. Yes, there is too much junk. Not much we can do about what is here already; but at least we can be more aware from now on.

Thanks, Olga, I will let them go. I don't subscribe anymore so that reduces future problems.

Mmm, the human condition really isn't it, attachment/memory/clutter... they have to go really though, there's just too much, and the more there is the more energy is required to keep it in any kind of order. Still, some things it's hard to let go. Actually, I think virtual, on-line clutter is just as difficult to keep a handle on, but at least in doesn't use paper...

Yes, Lucy, some things are hard to let go. I dread the day we have to downsize from this big house to an apartment or room in an old folks' home!

For more than 30 years now, I have torn out individual pages from magazines...from which I have made/continue to make...Japanese-style origami gift boxes. But I only save pages that are exceptionally interesting from a design and/or color standpoint. For me, this approach is creative and useful. The discarded magazines go to my community recycling center.

Hi Nancy and welcome! I've seen work like that and it is lovely. I've thought of these magazines for collage work but it doesn't seem to be my 'thing', though I do a bit with pieces from my print proofs.

By the way, a teacher picked up my (free) box of magazines! She plans to use them with her students for collages. Yay, that makes me happy!