IN THE SPIRIT OF D.I.Y.
“It is by doing the things that need to be learned in order to be done that we learn them.”
As an artist it is of utmost importance for me to be highly involved in each step of my creative endeavors and to not have to rely on, insofar as possible, mass consumer culture and the homogenized specialization of crafting. This is not to belittle those who engage in singular forms of specialized manual labor, it is not my intent to negate the hard work, discipline and effort it takes to master a single trade. Instead, this D.I.Y. ethos revolves around encouraging the empowerment of individuals and by extension communities. It is to champion the belief that the average individual with little or no prior experience is fully capable of seeking out such knowledge and expertise on their own to achieve their objectives.
This D.I.Y. ethic is relevant to my artistic endeavors in regards to activities like building my own cradled panels or stretching my own canvas over a hand crafted frame, designing my own logo or screen printing my own t-shirts. Of course, the raw materials I use are generally mass produced, and in all honesty not always in the most environmentally or worker friendly manner, nor always from the most ethical companies, but I do what I can given the context and circumstances of my existence and I am constantly seeking out better alternatives. In doing so I am able to pursue these projects with more self-determined interests in mind, approaching them my preferred way without having to make concessions to corporate or commercial standards and demands. These activities satisfy my own personal longings to be as involved as possible with as many aspects of my projects as possible, to maintain creative control and to offer a unique creation of hand made quality.
Then again, being that my time is so precious I won’t necessarily utilize these acquired skills every time I engage in a project. Ultimately it is the acquisition and victory of the final results that I am after and spending the amount of time needed on these prior tasks steals time from that part of the creative process which I enjoy the most. I want to be influenced by the spirit of D.I.Y. and to inspire others to do the same, but I’m not interested in a fixed ethic or adhering to an ideology which seeks some form of abstract purity. For the sake of my own complexity this approach must remain extremely mutable and only utilized when desired or necessary.
From everyday living to massive projects this D.I.Y. ethic has a strong foundation in my life. I’ve managed to learn basic skills like repairing my own bicycles and vehicles, growing my own food and raising livestock, repairing damaged clothing and cooking/baking from scratch, just to name a few. I’ve also taken on very ambitious projects like building a subterranean log and stone dwelling with my partner using materials that were all harvested from the bio-region I inhabited. This task alone involved learning masonry, woodworking, sustainable forest management, tree felling, general construction, and a great deal of patience and perseverance.
Whether it be the many hobbies I partake in like occasionally composing and recording music, mountain biking, botany, practicing earth skills such as starting fires with sticks, weaving baskets, or tanning hides, it is my strongest desire to not just possess the material, but to be involved in its creation. This reigns true for the most mundane and daily of tasks to the most extravagant and ambitious of projects.
It is humbling to know that upon the completion of a work of art I am not only offering my vision as it has been expelled onto its canvas, but am also offering the metaphorical and often literal blood, sweat and tears which went into building the very foundation for those visions. There exists an integrity within the D.I.Y. ethos that cannot be matched by mass produced homogenized consumer goods. Just as those D.I.Y. pioneers who came before me, it is with this spirit that I strive to create, influence and inspire.