Jeremy Côté

Archives and Mass

When I find someone’s work that I admire, I immediately try to find the place where they store their collection or archive. My goal is simple. If this piece they created is so good, how much more do they have?

This is why I love seeing a person’s archive page. Whether they are an artist, a writer, a cartoonist, a musician, a scientist, a mathematician, or any other kind of creator, being able to see the collection of work that they have done is both exciting and inspiring.

Exciting because I get to see a bunch of new work that I know I will love.

Inspiring because it shows me the evolution of their work over the years.

The former is a treat, but the latter is what I love the most.

Archives are time machines. They let you peer back and see what a person was doing in the past. If you peer closely enough, you can catch glimpses of who that person was and what they were being influenced by.

What is even more fun is looking at your own archive. This could be through reading old journal entries, or looking at the work you produced in the past. Each bit is a captured moment in time, and lets you remember who you were.

Furthermore, having a personal archive gives you a chance to see how far you have come in your journey. On any given day, it can feel like you are merely adding a single drop to the ocean of your life, but if you take the time to look at your process over a longer time scale, you see how much change has occurred. An archive is the mass of the work you do, and as it grows, it carries weight.

I will give you two examples of this. First, my archives page on my personal blog. Just looking at it gets me excited, because I can see how many pieces of writing I have created over the years. It is a page which lets me digest the bulk of my written work, and it fills me with joy each time I see it.

Second, I have my archive for my comics that I post on Handwaving. I prefer to look at this in a folder that contains all of my comics, because of the visual nature of my work. At a glance, I can see just how many pieces I have actually created over the course of my practice. Each time I make a new comic, it feels small and relatively insignificant. Add them up though and you start to see certain patterns and themes emerge. This is something I would not be able to see from any one piece. It is only through the totality of my work that it starts to shine through.

Archives are more than just a link to past work. They are links to our past selves.

Finally, archives provide an easy way to prove that you have done something. While in the past this might be where you would insert something about your education and your credentials, I like archives because they show a person what you have done.

I do not have to spend time convincing someone that I am a writer. I can just point to my archive page and let them see for themselves. Likewise, I do not have to convince someone that I can make comics, because I have this convenient place which proves it.

This is why archives are so great. Plus, with the nature of the internet, you do not have to wrestle with limited space. If you have a ton of work, it can all fit, and still be transmitted to someone with a link.

Archives are the new resumes.