From everyday groceries to household appliances and rare souvenirs, artist Kate Bingaman-Burt, from Portland, Oregon, keeps track of everything she buys by making silly drawings of something she purchases every day. She started this habit six years ago and has since then published two volumes of a book on the topic, called Obsessive Consumption – What Did You Buy Today?
Kate Bingaman-Burt is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University, but she’s also interested in modern consumerism. In 2002, she started documenting her shopping by photographing everything she purchased, and continued doing so every day until 2004. Then, she decided to combine her artistic talents with her interest in everyday consumption by replacing the photos with drawings she did herself. For the last six years, she has been making drawings of at least an item she buys every single day. The six years of the project have been compressed in two volumes of a book entitled Obsessive Consumption – What Did You Buy Today? published by Princeton Architectural Press, but can also be viewed online, on Kate’s official website.
Asked what inspired her to start drawing her everyday shopping, in an interview with TIME, Kate Bingaman-Burt said:
I started this project as a break from another project where I was drawing all of my credit card statements by hand. The credit card project was not fun, but that also was NOT the point. Making work about consumption and personal consumption especially is a big theme throughout my work: drawing the mundane items that we all purchase everyday just seemed like a natural next step. I also felt uncomfortable drawing objects, and drawing an object every day was the perfect way to get more comfortable with drawing. I started making work about personal consumerism around 2002 when I started photo documenting all of my purchases and then I created a brand called Obsessive Consumption to serve as the umbrella for all of my consumption projects to fall under.
Prior to my work about consumption, I worked as a designer in the home gift industry (candles, fancy foods, potpourri etc). Attending trade shows was a regular event for me, and I was really engaged by watching what people would buy or not buy, so I started thinking about my own purchasing patterns and impulses and the storytelling that people engage in over objects.
Obsessive Consumption has gone through many phases (photo documentation, installations, credit card and receipt drawings, sewing and lots and lots of object drawing), but it has always been about everyday objects and investigating why we buy what we buy, and what it says about us.