Considering Making and Makers for the East Leeds Makers survey
It’s a mixed weather Sunday in mid March, and I have just emerged from an hour-long bath. My neighbours trees now just tap lightly on the bathroom window, as opposed to the past few days where, thanks to storms Gareth and Hannah they have battered, with a sense of unusual urgency, upon the side of the house, as if sending a tree morse code.
Batten down the hatches, the winds are here.
The dulcet sound of James Shakeshaft (a Leeds musician, a maker of music) wafts up the stairs, as I contemplate what it is to be a maker.
My initial thoughts are; we are all makers. From the moment we wake up, we are making decisions. When to get up, what to wear, when to leave the house, or indeed whether to stay. We make our beds, (well, not all of us but let’s not get distracted here) we make breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, supper, a snack, a cuppa.
We collectively make a community come together, or separate. We collectively make decisions as to whom we might honour with speaking on our behalf, and, similarly, many make the decision to abstain from the debate. We make our way in the world.
Making is inherent in our language as something we do.
However, when asked, “Are you a maker?” so many people immediately translate that as something ‘other people do’.
So what if we take the dictionary explanation of making: a person or thing that makes or produces something.
Does this change our perception of what a maker is?
Perhaps we don’t acknowledge that a large part of our daily lives is a creative process? Perhaps a maker is a person or thing that makes or produces something, which in itself, is not necessary for survival?
Perhaps it is because we are not taught to relish something that doesn’t turn out as well as we’d planned in our heads?
So here are a few maker myths debunked…
- An artist is not necessarily just someone who can paint.
- A musician is not only someone who can play an instrument.
- A singer is not someone defined by whether they can sing in tune.
- A writer is not exclusively someone who has had a piece of work published.
- A craftsperson is not confined to someone who sews, knits, welds, saws or attaches things together.
Yes, they are all makers, but they have learnt by trial and error, by giving it a go, by stepping outside their comfort zone, by hanging out with others and sharing knowledge. There are no right or wrongs in the world of making, which is why so many of us make things just for the sheer delight of doing so.
However, confidence, accessibility, encouragement and dedication can often be the elements separating those who do, from those who believe they can’t.
Whatever you think a maker is, of this you can be sure, there is nothing more pleasing than standing back and looking upon something you have made just because you wanted to, and enjoying your creation, flaws and all.
And whilst I still believe that we are all makers in one form or another, there are only some of us that do it to satisfy a creative urge that goes beyond the day to day.
Creativity is inherent in us all, whether we choose to take it to another level is completely the choice of the individual, but there is room for us all to follow our dreams, make mistakes, pick ourselves up, and start again.
Right, I’m of to make a cup of tea…
East Leeds Project
P.S. If you are a Maker – please have a look at our survey below – it’ll only take a couple of minutes!
The East Leeds Makers survey is now live and will gather data over the next couple of months, with the intention of publishing our research in the summer of 2019. Please go to the survey by clicking the link below: