CINCINNATI -- Things Organized Neatly, a digital gallery curated by Cincinnati-based designer and curator Austin Radcliffe, has stretched beyond the confines of the Internet and is now the subject of a new book written by Radcliffe. “Things Organized Neatly: The Art of Arranging the Everyday” will land in bookstores March 15.
Radcliffe started Things Organized Neatly in 2010 while he was a design student in Indianapolis and the blog quickly exploded in the blogosphere, garnering attention from outlets like Time magazine (landing in the publication’s 2012 list of Top 30 Tumblr blogs) and winning the 2015 Webby Award (a prestigious site honoring “excellence on the Internet”) for Personal Blog/Website.
“One of the things I wanted to do was make some kind of mark, or cause some kind of impact in the Internet and culture. I didn’t set out to make money and get blog sponsors and get paid, but I did set out to make my blog famous,” said Radcliffe. “If you had met me five years ago, I would have been like, ‘Here, check out my blog, have you heard of this thing? Here take this, take this,’ and it worked.”
Radcliffe says the blog has “a few hundred thousand followers;” most images on Things Organized Neatly have more than 100 “reblogs,” or shares in the Tumblr world, and the blog’s Instagram presence boasts more than 17,000 followers.
So what IS it, exactly?
“It’s a collection of things arranged in a grid … things placed carefully,” said Radcliffe.
Simple enough. Images of artfully-arranged garden tools, simple collections of green leaves, of toast pinned to a wall in a gradient of toasted-ness — nearly anything goes. Many of the images are submissions from followers, and Radcliffe’s work as an “influencer,” whether by creation or curation, is becoming increasingly evident.
“The blog has affected some major changes. It’s crazy. Visual trends, advertising, photography, styling trends. Camera angles — the overhead camera angle. The manifestation of it is, now, it’s in Target ads,” Radcliffe said.
You’ve seen it, too, right here in Cincinnati.
“It’s a local ad … some Cincinnati bank. It says, like, ‘What would you do with an extra $100?’ ” Radcliffe said.
He’s talking about U.S. Bank — their most recent ad campaign, billboards of which you can see on Interstate 71, does have a very Things Organized Neatly-vibe, featuring a photograph of a collection of apparel and everyday items on a white background.
(While researching this story, after following Things Organized Neatly on Instagram, a number of similarly-styled sponsored ads started to pop into the feed: a rainbow of Clinique lip glosses arranged in a 3 x 3 grid, carefully-curated party paraphernalia from Chase Bank, an unpacked work satchel from Bench Accounting.)
“Depending on my mood, that either makes me happy to see more stuff like that, or it kinda like, freaks me out,” Radcliffe said. “I’ve found other things to do. For a hot second, it was kind of like … I don’t know how to put it. I was annoyed that someone else was getting paid to do a thing that I popularized.
“That’s why I’ve made a strong effort not to get pigeonholed and (to) step into all these other things.”
Those other things for Radcliffe harken back to his days working in galleries in New York City after graduating from design school in 2012.
He also has his sights set on opening a gallery in Cincinnati (with friend Caroline Turner), to be named IRL URL.
“Part of the mission statement will be to work with artists through the Internet to do a long-distance project, so we could link up with somebody in France and just exchange ideas,” Radcliffe said.
He emphasized the importance of space and of the experience, and noted that it’s a right time, right place scenario.
“It’s partly for my own amusement … and (because) there’s space here to carve out for oneself. The nature of a Midwest city like Cincinnati … the city’s changing and picking up in all these amazing ways and there’s so much new businesses and attention to be had,” Radcliffe said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Book signing with Austin Radcliffe, author of "Things Organized Neatly: The Art of Arranging the Everyday"
WHEN: 7 p.m. March 24
WHERE: Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Road, Cincinnati, 45208