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Things Organized Neatly: Meet the internet’s tidiest blogger
For most people tidying up is just one of life’s unfortunate necessities, while for others it’s full-on chore. For Austin Radcliffe, though, it’s a hobby that’s taken over his life, inspiring the Things Organized Neatly blog which now has more than 300,000 subscribers and a book deal.
The website’s dedicated following has given Radcliffe the chance to work with artists and galleries, and more recently it won a Webby Award nomintion for best personal blog. Spend a few minutes scrolling though its pages of well-ordered objects and it’s easy to see why. Things Organized Neatly occupies just a tiny corner of the web, but it has a unique calming influence, bringing a sense of order to the chaos of everyday life.
We caught up with Radcliffe after his Webby Award nomination to find out more, and see if his apartment is as tidy as his blog.
For anyone who may be a newcomer to the blog, when did it start and why?
Things Organized Neatly began in 2010. I was a graphic design student, who spent way too much time on tumblr. I saw organized things as an emerging trend, particularly with designers laying out a rebrand or other project to document their work. At that time there were a lot of themed tumblr blogs with very literal names — I realized this niche blog did not exist yet, so I came up with the title and the rest is history.
Do you still create your own pieces for the blog? Or is mostly curation now?
Some of the images on the site are mine, but the vast majority come from other photographers and artists around the world. The site has had approximately one image per day for the last five years, so there’s no way I could have done it all myself. Freelance commercial photography has given me some exciting opportunities to make new work.
Do you have a particular favorite submission? What’s been your most popular post?
The Things Organized Neatly book will include a lot of my favorites, a sort of Best-Of from the blog’s history. As for most popular, my friend David Corns did this toast grid, organized by darkness. There was another toast gradient by Van Robinson that was a ‘rival’ post. Both are awesome, but David’s toast post has the most notes.
How organised are you in real life?
People often expect me to be some sort of neatness guru, but I’m really a pretty normal guy. My blog is much neater than my apartment…
Why do you think Things Organized Neatly strikes such a chord with people?
I think there is something fundamentally appealing about these images. The objects are often relatable, and the layouts are beautiful. There are also probably some scientific reasons why people find the site soothing and calming.
You worked with the TATE last year for their Order and Compulsion exhibit, what exactly did you do for them? Is there scope to do more museum work?
Oh man, the Tate project made my year! In addition to the blog and a book I’m working on, I really love curating and working in art galleries. Leyla Tahir and the Tate Collectives curated an exhibit from the Tate permanent collection, called SOURCE. There was a Damien Hirst screenprint in that collection, which apparently made them think of me — very flattering. So I shot a companion photograph in response to that print, and I made another image which was made into a poster for the Source Display. I gave a talk and a couple of gallery tours, as well as a workshop with young people from the Tate Collectives.
As for future gallery and museum projects, I always have things in the works. I am proposing Things Organized Neatly exhibitions to a few different museums and academic galleries that would have a proper budget to bring in big artists. I’m always dreaming up new exhibitions – neatly organized or otherwise. Right now the book is taking up most of my time, but there are some exciting things in the pipeline.
You posted an example recently of Samsung stealing your style. Is that something that happens often?
Well I’ve seen a lot of companies use it over the years. It happens all the time, but I really can’t claim it as my own invention. My site may have helped magnify the trend, but I certainly didn’t create it.
Most recently, the Academy Awards’ Production Design title cards were all ‘organized neatly.’ I emailed the designer behind the Oscar work, Henry Hobson, and we’re working to get some of those images in my book. Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel won that category, by the way — his work has been an enormous influence for me, long before Things Organized Neatly.
Fossil also hired me recently for some photo work, which was a great experience. I’m always pleased when companies decide to actually call me for their Neatly Organized needs.
You mentioned there is a Things Organized Neatly book coming out soon, how did that come about? What’s going to be in it?
Rizzoli Universe contacted me last year and asked if I wanted to do a book. Everyone there has been great to work with, and it’s been an exciting project to pull together. The All-Star lineup or artists and designers will include Carl Kleiner, Jim Golden, Barry Rosenthal, Scheltens-Abbenes, and Tom Sachs (to name a few).
Who are your own internet heroes?
I have to start with Haw-Lin. Their layout is a direct influence on my ‘other’ blog, Loose Tiger, and I consistently love Haw-Lin. I also visit It’s Nice That, Reform, Contemporary Art Daily, and Alldayeveryday on a regular basis.
Things Organized Neatly is nominated for Webby Award in the category of ‘Best personal blog’. You can vote for it here.