Friday, June 17, 2011

The He(art) of DIY

So, I'm going to spill my guts for a quick second. But first, go ahead and laugh, that was me and my pal Rachel, the year we graduated from Film school.

So here it is. As you know, I have my BFA is film production, and spent a good five years of my life living and breathing everything film. From 16mm to HD, I spent 20 hours a day totally engulfed in it, I usually dreamed about it too. And coming from not very much money, everything I did was DIY. I made or thrifted all of the props, got grants for all my equipment, had a ridiculous amount of bake sales and learned as I went.
My films were probably not great, but I loved them. I loved making films. I am sad that old my computer had a complete meltdown and the only photos I have from film school are from my friends' facebook pages. (All of the photos of my thesis film were taken by Michaela Pentacoff during production) And my greatest memories are staying awake all night building paper mache pterodactyls and printing out fliers for casting calls, sewing costumes, baking sweets for bake sales, decorating props and dying dresses to fit our production design. I made movies for kids while I was in school, so everything I did was loud, colorful and fun, which I think is still reflected in my artwork.

Lately I have noticed a trend in artists losing a bit of that DIY passion though. It's almost as if you don't have a fancy dslr, business cards from a printing press, an over the top website and some kind of shock value, you aren't considered an innovator, or even an artist. I appreciate all the incredible work that printers do, and website designers, and photographers. But I am tired of seeing people make fun of other artists for what they are attempting to do. It may not be the "best" or the most innovative, or the cutest, but it is an attempt at keeping art alive, and keeping the passion strong for a diy lifestyle.

I don't make films anymore, but I still work in an incredibly artistic field, and also an incredibly competitive field. I am not the best pastry chef, and for the most part, I get orders for pretty traditional stuff. I don't get too much of an opportunity to expand my horizons, although I try to put a little of myself into each cake/pie/cupcake/cookie that I make.
AND damnit, I have a hell of a lot of fun doing what I do. I know I don't always make the hippest cake, or the coolest, most unique cookies, but I am 100% self taught/learn-under-fire kind of pastry chef. I've had a lot of jobs in my life, like teaching this kid how to be awesome and draw pictures of my old 79 Ford truck:
Making moccasins and constantly sticking awls into the fleshy part of my hand in a pretty horrible way:
My first pastry job, eventually leading to my first Bakery manager position:
I am proud of my work. In all the work I have done, whether it be teaching art to kids, making mocs, runing a bakery and of course, making films. In everything I have done, at the heart of it is DIY. Learn under fire, read books, learn from masters, and make hundreds of mistakes. I have been made to cry at work, belittled, made fun of, but here I am, still wading through the swamp, pushing past the smog of negativity. I still have to face a brick wall on a daily basis, due to my age, my looks, my gender, my decoratibg style, my writing, etc. (which has definitely inspired this post,) But that is what being an artist is all about. Yes, I print out our biz cards and stickers on my printer at home. I learned how to make buttercream roses from youtube, and I have the scars of mistakes all over my hands from every job I have ever held.
BUT I will never stop doing it myself. And I hope you don't stop either. Don't worry if you can't afford to pay someone to design your website yet, or if you don't have the dopest camera, keep doing what you're doing and be proud of your work. I know a lot of people who are starting up their biz/blog/career but don't think it's legit because they don't have ridiculously expensive business cards, don't have the funds to dump into a start up idea, or keep working their day job! I think all you need is love and commitment to be successful and the endurance to push through the crowd of people who don't believe in you and do your best to surround yourself with positivity and self confidence! I believe in you, and I believe in me!
Thanks for indulging me in this mini-rant. I hope you liked seeing all the photos of my past-lives. I would love to hear any stories you have of preservation, DIY, and learning to be confident in yourself in the beginnning stages of your biz/blog/career/life.



  1. I love this post, the idea behind it, and you! You are an amazing person and so supportive of DIYers big and small.

  2. hah, so the title thing, totally thought it was going to be a post about your man.

    truth; this was better. well, i can't say that, i don't know him. but i liked this, a lot. and i agree.

  3. Douglas is a big reason why I posted this. We have been talking a lot about the way artists treat each other and how being public artists and putting your art out there can change your life, in good ways and bad ways. Its overwhelming sometimes. My brain is kind of all over the place right now, but yeah. He was apart of this post.

  4. Really love this post! It is so where I'm at right now.

    I don't have a fancy camera, fancy craft or baking gear so pretty often I feel left in the dark and like it's not worth putting out what I've done because it's not up to standard. It's hard not to get intimidated and put off of what you want to do when you compare it to some of the bigger blogs.

  5. Dang girl, this is AWESOME. It made me feel ten times better, because I usually feel like I can't be like the other kids in the industry because I'm still just starting out and don't have an awesome camera yet, and I drew all my own business cards. Glad DIY supporters still exist! I sure am one :)

  6. Here, here! Well, said! (film school dropout speaking)

  7. great post. it's clear you put a lot of time and effort into it which makes me enjoy it more.

    it's funny a friend and i were talking about this just yesterday (sort of this). she was saying the same type of stuff about all the photographers that have suddenly popped up with their blogs and websites stagers's great but it does make it harder for people who have spent years and years honing their skill and building a client database.

  8. Patience, it does make it harder, but I think that it is a fair playing ground. There will always be competition and those who really work hard and believe in themselves, will persevere.
    There are many people who I know who are incredible photographers and use a point and shoot, and some who are not so great, but are considered pros because they have 5000 dollar camera + equip. It's all relative. people shouldn't be discouraged to start small and stick with their dreams. I have looked back to some of my favorite etsy sellers/bloggers/artits, and they were not who they are now. it takes time and it's okay to diy everything you can!
    My only real point it that it is sad to see people just give up, or lose fifth because there are so many judgements floating around...
    oh, and we should be more supportive of anyone dabbling in the arts. that is all. thanks for the conversation.

  9. I love this "rant!" I can completely sympthaize. I am currently a freelance-writer who dreams of writing children's books and running a small bakery complete with sidewalk-chalk-drawn advertisements. I am also a completely self-taught crochet(er) who makes stuffed animals and dreams of selling them on Etsy. I will admit to being intimidated by the Etsy rockstars out there.

  10. Erin, there really is no reason you cant do all of those things! I know its hard to see them as realities, but in the past year alone, I feel like we have taken 100 steps closer to fulfilling our dreams which makes me believe that everyone else can too!
    (your bakery idea sounds really sweet, what about a bakery/book shop full of children's books and stuffies! Sound heavenly!!)

  11. I believe in you!! You rock my socks off and I wish you could make the pastries for my one day future wedding :) And the sunglasses. And attend. you know.

  12. OH!! PS!! Love the blog makeover!! You are so talented!