Welcome to the next installment of our Uncommon Objects staff/vendor interview series. Today, we would like to introduce you all to staff member, Justin Dent. Justin is a recent addition to the Uncommon Objects team, but has made himself an essential part of what makes the shop work. Here is our interview with Justin, along with some of his current favorite vignettes/items in the shop.
Justin, can you tell our readers how long you’ve been at Uncommon Objects, and what it was that sparked your interest in antiques?
I’ve been at Uncommon Objects for just over one year now. Some of my earliest memories are of shopping for antiques with my Mom and Grandmother, or rooting around in my Grandfather’s house in Arkansas for all of the bizarre artifacts he had tucked away. My Dad, a retired Federal Postal Inspector, now spends his days working at a small antique shop outside of Little Rock. Collecting and appreciating the memories of our heritage have always been very important in my family.
It’s a given that most of the staff and vendors at Uncommon Objects are collectors. Do you actively collect anything? Were you a collector as a child? Do you remember your first collection?
My first collection as a child was a cardboard box full of hundreds of sports cards I kept in my closet. I vividly remember climbing inside and literally bathing in TOPPS and Upper Deck cards, hoping to find a stray Dion Sanders or Jeff Bagwell card. I bred mice for a while, which I suppose is a weird little collection of its own. My Mom put a stop to that collection real fast. After that it was comics and fanzines, something that would take me to conventions and bring me in contact with a real array of creative, talented artists. I currently collect devil imagery, children’s magic tricks and memorabilia, and anything with a goat on it.
You are a musician, a writer, and illustrator. I’m curious as to what you feel the common thread between those endeavors and, say, your display work for the shop are. Is there a singular source of inspiration that feeds all these things?
I think the singular inspiration for all creative work is a sense of collective consciousness. Some people may call it the Muse or something lofty and esoteric like that, but I really believe that humanity has this inner spark of inspiration and instinct that’s very difficult to put into words. Whether I’m writing, playing, working on our displays or just doodling a lonely Loch Ness monster on scrap paper, I think it’s important to get the maximum effect with as few flourishes as possible. My drawing style is very loose and fluid, for instance, and I think it’s a matter of focusing more on letting the viewer fill in the gaps themselves instead of focusing on small details. Working at the shop gives me a chance to “illustrate” in a three dimensional space. I try to use as few items as possible to really turn the shopper’s focus onto the atmosphere of the display before letting them focus on specific items. They need to fall into the world of the object and be able to hear its story clearly. There’s a lot of love and patience in that, and it never fails to make me smile when someone shopping at Uncommon Objects takes the time to tell us how much they enjoy the shop.
You were asked to show us your favorite items or vignettes in the shop. What is it about these items that make them your favorite?
I really dig goats! They’re right up there with raccoons as far as the most punk rock animals ever. They eat garbage and butt heads all the time, I mean what’s not to like? That front window was so much fun to do. We got a chance to assemble it during the Halloween season this year, so I think everyone was excited to see something a little spooky. It’s simultaneously sinister and welcoming, like an Edward Gorey illustration or the worlds we find in fairy tales. Also, the “Witch of Black Bird Pond” display is just killer. I think there are five objects making up the entire display, and its so atmospheric not in spite of, but because of this. The same goes for the stained glass display that Steve Wiman and I worked on together. Simple but effective color palette, dramatic lighting, and careful use of space make it stick out in my mind. Its all about using whatever you’re provided with and making it into something beautiful.
Thanks Justin! We look forward to seeing you all next time.
Le Petit Phantom