Oh, the Joys of Collecting! Here’s How to Get Started

 While there’s nothing like feeling accomplished after a day or two of decluttering (especially on this long holiday weekend, because we like to stay at home when the rest of the population descend upon the beaches. No, we’re not bitter), there’s also something to be said about the joys of collecting. 

Collecting can be a fun hobby. Aside from the stress-busting and confidence-boosting benefits of having a hobby, collecting—within reason and without going into hoarding territory—can be good for your brain: it can sharpen our observational skills and even inspire creativity like how artist Joan Miro collected items from nature on his many walks as take-off points for his work. 

Whether you have any Miro-like artistry you want to manifest or not, here are tips on how to start a collection. 

Start with what you like.

Sounds pretty simple, but sometimes you might get distracted with having a collection that can earn you money even if you don’t care for it or collecting something just because a lot of people already collect them. If that’s the case, you might end up with a lot of, say, bottle openers, quilts, or whatever object you decide to collect and don’t know what to do with. 

Elly Ang of Danger in Design has always loved collecting pins even before she started making her own. In an interview on her pin collection, Elly shares, “I love collecting things, I love collecting art and I think these are little pieces of art. I find joy and a lot of inspiration from different artists because all of these are well designed.”

Stick to collecting things you know will bring you joy and inspiration and it won’t be a waste of your time, effort, and money. Hey, it can even lead to creating your own piece of collectible.

Look around you.

If you like too many things or can’t commit to one thing you want to collect, take a look at the things you already have. Do you have train tickets and coins from your different trips overseas, unique coasters, or candles you have no plans of lighting? 

You can also look at your parents’ house. They might have a cherished item or two that they want to pass on to you or at the very least you might find a clue to a potential collection around the things you grew up with. This way, you can start a collection with objects that are already within your reach.

Scour the internet.

Let’s put our stalking research skills to good use. Once you have decided on what you want to grow as a collection, look at Pinterest boards, search for related hashtags over at Instagram, look at online shops (ahem, commonroomph.com) to find out what’s out there and where to find the collectibles you want.

What’s your budget?

Okay, real talk. Collecting can burn a hole in your pocket, particularly if you decide to collect fine art by famous masters, rare antiques, and the like. But as graphic designer Gian Wong shares in an interview about the objects he collects to fill his creative space with inspiration, they don’t always “have to be pricey or branded,” showing a customized item amidst other objects he bought. 

Some accessible items here at the shop can add or kick off a collection, too. Love art? How about an upcycled barong wallflower wall art. Want to collect affordable art pieces by your favorite artists? You can take the postcard route with postcards from artists like Cheryl Owen, Issel de Leon, and Louise Ramos.  

Store or display.

You need to have a proper space for any collection you plan to build, whether you want them displayed for everyday inspiration or tucked away safely in a box. (What you don’t want is to end up with a room in your house that you and your family can’t use anymore because it’s completely occupied by your collection.) 

We’re all for displaying a collection because it can make for a happier space and you won’t need a big display cabinet or wall space when you’re just starting out. Some you might be able to just put on by your desk like magnets or art prints, or on your bedside table like the stacks of notebooks and pads you love.

Collecting can be a way for us to #makejoyfulpursuits. While certain objects can definitely bring some sense of joy or inspire us in our work, it’s also essential to keep in mind that as long as we’re able to appreciate people over stuff, we’re good. 


Words by Mabel David-Pilar 
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications, including a teen fashion mag and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created startersisters.com to celebrate fermenting in the Philippines.