From how-to videos on the web, to Make-It-Yourself conventions, to millions of people breaking out of the traditional 9-5 office job in favor of starting their own small businesses selling self-made products, the Maker Movement has definitely taken a life of its own over the last decade. At the same time, 3D printers, Arduinos, innovative crafting tools and more have surfaced to make it easier than ever for anyone to link technology to artisanal goods.
But for those who don’t necessarily see themselves as the creative hands-on type, the maker world can seem intimidating – alienating, even. I’m speaking from personal experience here. Sure, we’ve all tried a few DIY projects here and there and have had our own Pinterest moments, but I for one have always looked at the maker world from a distance, admiring everything that seems to go into creating a product by hand, but never imagining I would find myself empowered enough to give it a serious try.
Recently however, I found myself in the middle of a literal maker space when I joined the Sizzix team. My new job as a junior copywriter is in line with my own craft: writing. But from the first day at the office, I’ve been inspired by all the artistic talent around me, encouraged by the very existence of our products that make it so easy to create things I never thought myself remotely able to, and empowered by coming into work every week and seeing how even someone like me can not only toy around with the idea of joining the maker world, but become fully immersed in it.
And it’s not just a passing feeling. No, I can feel a full on transformation happening here and I’m positive these are universal feelings experienced by anyone who enters the maker world for the first time.
So if the thought has ever crossed your mind for even a fraction of a second (which it must have if you’re read this far), then I invite you to keep reading. Who knows – maybe by the end of this article you’ll find yourself wanting to make and create for yourself!
During my first week at work here I wanted to decorate my desk, which is common with a new job. But I wasn’t just thinking of bringing in a cute little frame and a few fancy pencils. Instead, I wanted to make my own. My mom, a huge sewing enthusiast, has a ton of thread and buttons and cute things that I can wrap around the stationary items I already have, so why not? And instead of shelling out money on ready-made items like I normally do, I spruced up my space by adorning my computer monitor with pretty little doodles on sticky notes, and even a die-cut red heart that I happened to find in my desk drawer on my first day here (yes, that’s the kind of thing you find working at a craft equipment company).
Even outside of work I find myself constantly looking at items and thinking “I could make that” or "Maybe I could make that look better" and mapping out the process in my head.
The funny thing is, my childhood was filled with crafts. My mom is a DIY queen, and she always involved me in all kinds of projects that I genuinely enjoyed and was always so proud to show them off to my friends and family. But somewhere along the way, I lost interest. Things were just too complicated, projects never turned out the way I wanted them to, and quite honestly, life became too busy. Between school, chores and friends, I didn’t put in the time to ever get into it and the interest simply waned overtime.
But only after a few weeks of being at the new job and trying my hand at some of the Sizzix crafting machines we have here, that has changed in a big way. I’m blown away by how far we’ve come from the simple handmade cards and toys of my childhood, and I constantly find myself working on fun new projects at home.
I was lucky enough to find an amazing environment that got my creative juices flowing again, but I can say with confidence you don’t need to have a job like this to get the same benefit. Go ahead and sign up for a Maker Faire, look up tutorials online, or take part in maker workshops in your area. There’s so much to do and so many ways to get into it. And once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop. Which brings me to my next point...
You’re genuinely interested in finding out how things work when you get involved in the maker world. “How did they do that?” is a big question and you aren’t satisfied until you find the answer. Google becomes your new best friend, you’re researching things you never thought to before, and you spend your free time looking up project ideas to work on. You’re always learning more and thoroughly enjoying the process. Personally, I’m constantly pinning articles on Facebook for safekeeping or emailing links to myself. Ideas, questions, concerns, everything is fair game. The maker world opens up a whole new world for you.
I might be talking specifically about the crafting segment of the maker world, but the really cool thing is once you join the club, so to speak, you find yourself appreciating every part of it. Woodworking, cooking, quilting, glass blowing all become things that you’re completely fascinated by. I’m not saying you’ll want to jump head first into everything you come across, but I am saying you’ll approach these types of things with a different view point than you did before. The craftsmanship, the time, the care and thought that go into making products become so much more evident when you've had some first hand experience with it.
This one might be a little repetitive and obvious, but it still deserves its own mention. I can recall a time when I would buy something at a store, use it a few times and then be over it. But when you make your own jewelry, create your own décor, or make anything by yourself, you naturally find yourself having a real connection with it. You use it more, show it off more, talk about it more, you just like it much, much more than something you only have to swipe your credit card to get.
Like I said, you don't have to necessarily end up in a work environment that fosters your creative growth in order to jump into the exciting world of making. There are so many ways to get involved, and more importantly, so very many reasons to give it a try. Take it from me: You won't regret it.
Welcome to the Maker Movement. You're going to love it!