Monday, November 29, 2010

Khader Humied of Metaform Studio

I decided to begin my series of interviews with an easy subject - designer/maker and green architect, Khader Humied, who also happens to be a longtime friend, whom I met when I was debuting my own eco-friendly products at the Design Show in Chicago.

Khader and his wife Chris Randolph started Metaform Studio in 2001, and quickly drew media attention for their clever handmade designs from reclaimed materials. For years they worked and lived in a large studio space an hour north of Manhattan, but recently they chose to move to a smaller space in Nyack, NY. Chris is an artist and full-time art therapist, and Khader has been working part-time for architectural firms, and teaching design at local schools. Khader continues to make Metaform products in between gigs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DIY Trunk Show

This past Saturday I had time before class to drop into a hotbed of craftiness, where well over 100 people were displaying their hand-made wares. As is often the case at tradeshows, some makers were sharing a space with others (I remember doing the same at ICFF in 2004).

The Chicago Craft Mafia has been holding the DIY Trunk Show for several years now, and the energy and crowd at the event - considering it's far from the only craft fair this season - is quite impressive.

After chatting with a couple people I knew, such as Stephanie Keller, I mustered the courage to finally chat up someone new, and as it turned out, it was Cinnamon Cooper, one of the Mafia founders. She pointed me in the direction of Rebeca Mojica and Beth Cummings, and told me I needed to have words with Gapers Block, who was sitting there next to the DJ on stage.

To my great surprise, none of them bit my nose off, nor shooshed me away. In fact, they seemed eager to be interviewed for my research, and each got one of my 12 tiny business cards that I churned out an hour before arriving.

I clearly needed about ten times as many.

My Favorite Mirror

Here's an interview in Craft Mag with a couple that have been able to support themselves entirely on the things they handmake. At the time of this article, they had set up shop in Northern Indiana, and had quit their jobs to be full-time touring makers.

Since then, they've started a new venture, called Overdue Industries, making items from used books, and they have moved back to New Jersey. I'm hoping to set up an interview with them, and maybe we'll find out what they've been up to lately.

Monday, November 15, 2010

“Etsy saved my life”

That's what Yokoo Gibran says, now that she has quit her job in a copy center to pursue her Etsy-driven career of making knit scarves and accessories. But it's been alot of work: 13-hour shifts, and 50+ customer contacts a day. “this is the hardest job I’ve ever had.”

And she's not the only one busting her hump to make it on Etsy. Here's the scoop:

This article from last year is a good examination of the Etsy miracle and myth.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Make 4A Living is a research project, where I'll post what I learn from interviews with people who do - or aspire to - make for a living, as well as related articles, books, video and anything else I can dig up.

Why do this? Because we were made to make. It's woven into our genes. Sure, some of us can develop elaborate, complex products, but that is not the majority of making humanity has always engaged in. Basic necessities were the things everyone made, and got gratification from doing. Few of us make even basic items anymore. Mass production, specialization, and division of labor has taken that simple pleasure away from the majority of us.

Currently, a relative handful of 'professional creatives' get paid to develop the products that end up in our lives, sucking up the vast majority of invention and craft that should belong to all of us.
The increasing availability of cheap equipment, design tools, materials and space to make your own products has led to many entrepreneur makers doing their own thing. These are the daring souls I hope to glean wisdom from. Some of the first questions that come to mind are:
Who qualifies as an Indie Maker?
What do these people need to become self-sufficient?
What is hardest to get as an Indie Maker?

This blog will journal the process of becoming a self-sufficient maker, and isolate the obstacles and invaluable resources to making it as a maker.

Hope you can join me on the journey!