As long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with shiny things. And I am not alone: Most people seem to absolutely love it. Just skim through some magazines or, for the heck of it, just look around when you’re hitting the streets. There might be a good chance that you can see some shiny things wherever you look.

As an artist, you are concurrently a collector of beautiful things (*or a horder of sorts*), which meant that I accumulated a little (*not so little*) collection of especially golden and iridescent things over the years. Hence, I humorously have introduced myself as a human magpie now and then. It always has been a great conversation starter, but nothing really more than that. Until today, where I seek to explore the cause behind my ‘addiction’.

As a disclaimer: I might not have a definitive answer (who has?) or might not even come to any conclusion to why people – and especially me – seem to be drawn to shiny objects. It’s just a bunch of thoughts spreaded out as I am exploring my inner motives, thoughts und feelings. Maybe you can take something out of it.

Why do we like shiny things?

Now the most obvious call would be that we’ve come to associate gloss with wealth and luxury. Glossiness seems to be strongly linked to the life of the rich and wealthy, and therefore, we’d like to get a piece of that by collecting (*cough* hording) anything that gets us closer to this life of dreams. But how can we explain that even little babies seem to love glitter and glossy things as well?

Surprisingly, this topic has also concerned scientists who conducted several studies over the years. Some of them have indicated that it is in fact an artifact of evolution and concluded that our crush on glossy is rooted in a primitive desire for water as a vital resource.

Studies with infants have found that a significant portion of the contestants have tried to lick the shining objects. Other research had seen thirstier participants preferring more and more glossy pictures.

“Our crush on glossiness might be rooted in a primitive desire for water.”

— Eric Jaffe

Does that prove anything? Maybe. Ultimately, it’s just 6 studies done from the same researchers. More importantly, there’s really nothing I can take out of it for myself and artistic vision. So I guess it’s time to move on.

Glossiness as a teller of perfectionism?

Artists – as many other people alike – have always been enslaved to the idea of perfectionism. Good or bad, I too have been a victim of that. So what if these glossy, seemingly flawless surfaces are nothing but a sign that we still crave for a world that is devoid any mistakes and imperfections?


But for the past two years I have more or less successfully distanced myself from this notion that everything has to be perfect. It’s an ongoing process, but I still managed to get some small wins on the way. Did my love for golden and especially iridescent vanish likewise? Not at all. In fact, the opposite might be true.

Is glitter the uniform of the remarkable?

Whether you like these glossy things or not, there’s no way to deny that they look nothing alike anything else. Especially iridescent things, as they can also change color. It’s an attribute that is associated with only a few materials and a handful of selected animals that can be found in mother nature. These few are usually very distinctive, showy and remarkable.

So maybe it’s because these things are so different. I like to be different. It’s what every artist wishes to be in some way. But still I struggle to limit my passion for these objects to this mere inducement. How condescending would that be for my artistic vision? And if all you want is to be different, aren’t there are a million other ways to do that?

Conclusion: What does all of that mean for me as an artist?

As stated, I still have no definite answer where the root of my passion for shin. Hence, I also struggle with getting any conclusion out of it. But there is still some distinct motive of mine that if have recognized in these shiny objects.

Gold, gloss and glitter was, and is still something I’ve always strived for: a form of extreme expression. Over the top to some, fascinating to others.

Yet it coherently also manages to represent something very natural, the reflection of light. And while I struggle stumbling between the immensities, I might also marvel and the beautiful things mother nature and humankind has given to us.

So there’s my two cents on that. I really hope you managed to get something out of it, and may it only that you need to start exploring your own inner motives, passions and likings. At least then it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

And if all else fails, here’s a little fun fact: Magpies aren’t actually attracted to shiny things. It’s a myth. Bam! You learnt something new today.