What Is Maker Culture + How to Be A Maker

What exactly is maker culture?

The term maker culture is about individuals creating and building things and celebrating the creators.

It embraces the do-it-yourself (DIY) beliefs and inspires people to be creative and innovative.

The maker movement embraces technology and tools to build new things. It is sometimes associated with woodworkers, metalworkers, glassblowers, programmers, and other skilled technicians.

Maker culture denounces mass production and consumerism and focuses on making things with your own hands. This movement also embraces long-forgotten skills like tatting, blacksmithing, and darning.

Think back to the days of your ancestors when people had to be innovative in order to survive. The maker culture recognizes the scarcity and necessity of those times, and create goods that value longevity and quality over quantity.

man working with wood over a workbench is a maker in the maker culture

What is the history of maker culture?

The maker culture can be traced back several centuries when traditional crafts and trades like basketweaving and blacksmithing were the norms.

When the DIY movement resurfaced in the 1950s and 1960s, it did so as the counterculture movement.

The maker culture morphed again in the 1970s and 1980s with the introduction of personal computers, which marked the start of the hacker culture.

When the Internet was introduced in the 1900s, the maker culture drew even more attention. Then came social media in the 2000s, which meant makers could now share their work with anyone with internet access.

Fast forward to today, and the maker culture is a global phenomenon! There are makers and DIY enthusiasts worldwide sharing their work and experiences with others, and they’re making a great living doing it.

Throw in technology like the 3D printer, robots, 3D printing, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s safe to say the maker culture is here to stay.

What is a maker?

Makers use their hands, tools, or machinery to create or produce things – many of them functional. Many makers use wood, metal, electronics, or programming in their crafts. Others throw clay, sew, bake products from scratch, knit, crochet, and create gardens!

They are passionate about their desire to create and share their knowledge and skills with others while selling their goods in shops, online, or directly from their workspaces.

a maker or craftsman in workshop using a saw

What is the difference between an artist and a maker?

Many people believe makers are artists and artists are makers, but they truly are different.

Artists create art while drawing from their emotions, ideas, and experiences. And a maker creates and produces things using their hands, tools, or machinery.

While both artists and makers are creatives, they often have different approaches to their work and goals.

Can anyone become a maker?

Yes, they can! The maker culture is open and inclusive everyone. It embraces individuals from all walks of life to use their imagination and encourages people to create and build things.

Some makers are formally trained or educated in their craft, while others are self-taught and learn through hands-on experience and internships.

How do I become a maker and join the maker culture?

To become a maker, you must be willing to learn new skills about your desired craft. Be open to exploring new techniques while learning all you can about the craft and the mediums you will use.

Makers should also learn how to promote and market their work and themselves. This can be done through social media, blogging, joining online communities, or participating in local events.

If you are interested in becoming a maker, many resources are available. Here are a few to help you get started:

  • Maker Faire – the geniuses behind Make Magazine and one of the ultimate resource guides for makers. They also hold an annual makers’ conference.
  • WorkbenchCon – a popular annual conference for makers and content creators.
  • Nation of Makers – a nonprofit group for maker organizations in the United States.

How long does it take to become a maker?

That depends on the type of craftsmanship you are learning and the time and money you are willing to invest.

Some trades are fairly easy and inexpensive to learn, while others require complex skills which take time to develop. If you’re fortunate to find a mentor who is willing to allow you to intern for them, you can learn from the experts while on the job.

Ultimately, the key is to be patient and remember to enjoy the creative process while you’re learning!

What are maker spaces?

Maker spaces are cropping up in cities everywhere! These spaces often have a centralized area with tools, equipment, and resources to create and build things. Surrounding the work area may be small studios or offices where makers can run their businesses or display their goods.

A huge benefit of maker spaces is being able to use tools that may be costly to own. In addition to sharing tools and equipment, there are networking opportunities with other creatives which can help you enhance your skills.

Some maker spaces are operated by schools or other organizations. Many are open to the public for classes or workshops and teach new skills and techniques. Other spaces may require a membership or a small fee to use their tools and equipment.

Can you make a living as a maker?

You definitely can though it isn’t necessarily easy to do!

If you’re planning on becoming a full-time maker, then be aware you’ll need to do more than just make your crafts. You’ll also be in charge of branding, marketing and selling your products, or you’ll need to find someone to do it for you.

Many makers have partners or assistants who assist in the day to day running of the business while other makers open brick-and-mortar stores and hire employees to sell their work.

However, If you don’t want to run a retail site, consider opening an online shop on ETSY or sell a Shopify store. Likewise, you can hire someone to rep your work and sell wholesale.

Other ways of making income include teaching workshops or offering classes. You can write books, or consider developing DIY kits using your products or designs. And you can participate in craft fairs, consign in shops, or exhibit in galleries.

Most makers who choose to sell their wares choose several options to sell their work. Just remember that method you choose to sell your work, it is important to understand your audience and the market.

It helps to have strong business skills and know how to price your work competitively and profitably. And ultimately, be sure to maintain a strong grasp of your expenses, overhead costs, and finances. It is easy to lose sight of profitability if you’re too busy making your wares or neglecting the financial side of your business.

Another good tool is having a written business plan to chart goals and the projected future of your company. Some makers utilize a vision board for this, while others use creative affirmations daily.

So is maker culture for you?

There are many reasons people want to join the maker culture, including the simple satisfaction of working with your hands and creating products from your heart. If you think this lifestyle is something you’d enjoy, then use your imagination and creative abilities to find a product that can appeal to others.

And once you’ve mastered your craft, go enjoy your new role as a maker!

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old tools lined up on brick sidewalk for article on maker culture