Antiquing tips from 'junk artist' Kipp Normand
Though Kipp Normand grew up in Detroit, he loves the Motor City and the Circle City with equal zeal. By day, he’s a real estate development manager for Southeast Neighborhood Development and a go-to expert on historic preservation. Outside of work and over the past decade, he’s developed that great appreciation and knowledge of Indy’s history and culture as a self-taught, self-described “junk artist.”
Normand’s highly sought-after artwork commanded the show at the opening of the TURF installation exhibit at the old City Hall during the Super Bowl in 2012. You can also find his work in Fountain Square’s new watering hole, Thunderbird, and at his studio upstairs in the Harrison Center for the Arts on 16th and Delaware during First Fridays.
Normand’s yen for collecting came both from his parents and a flood in his Detroit neighborhood at age 5 or 6. “For the people on that side of the block, their basements flooded,” he says. “For trash day, they cleaned them out and threw out all this stuff that had accumulated for decades. And this was good trash, from the 1920s through the ’40s.
“At that time, every kid had the run of the neighborhood. Our parents would kick us kids outside until the streetlights came on,” he says. “I just found the wonders that were in the trash that day.”
You don’t have to be a professional scrounger to find neglected treasures, Normand says. You just need to know where to look.
In addition to the big flea markets and antique shops, Normand recommends Tim and Julie’s Another Fine Mess on the Near Eastside. “They always have interesting stories of where they find their great stuff,” he says. If you’re planning a home improvement project, Normand says to check out Society of Salvage and Rewired Antiques. “They have access to wonderful collections of vintage hardware and fixtures.” And don’t forget the trash, especially in more “well-to-do neighborhoods,” where some residents would rather throw out old things than stage a yard sale.
Start a collection
“I don’t necessarily recommend collecting as an investment, but it can provide a lot of joy,” Normand says. “Decide what you want to collect and stick with that.” He suggests these items to start your collection. “Postcards are a terrific way to get insight into the places that are familiar.” Stereoview cards, a major source of entertainment in the 19th century, still pop up in antique shops, he says. Their 20th century cousin, the View-Master, goes back 70 years. The discs make great conversation pieces. So do roadmaps. “[They’re] surely disappearing from our modern landscape, and they’re absolutely fascinating to collect,” he says.
Decorate with style
When decorating your home, establish your own taste. Rather than “knock together a dresser from Ikea only to have it fall apart in five years,” Normand says to buy a longer lasting antique or a custom-built dresser. “Also, I strongly advocate purchasing art from local artists, and not just out of self-interest!” he says with a chuckle. “I think it’s a way to mark your home as individual and very much a part of this city.”