Making something myself is the most rewarding experience I have ever had in my life. If I trace the origins of my obsession with DIY, it probably all starts with the Halloweens of my childhood (I am fortunate to have a mother who didn’t believe in store-bought costumes). In fact, DIY has become such an obsession that by 8 am on November 1st, I am already sketching out my costume for the following year. Because of this, my friends usually don’t see me much from about mid-September right up until Halloween.
The next evolution in my quest to becoming a “maker” was when I decided I would become the next Quentin Tarantino. With very little money to spare for gear or fancy effects, you sort of invent cheap ways to do things. I built camera rigs and figured out how to do (poorly-executed) blood effects. I wanted to film a car chase so badly that I strapped a $2,500 piece of school property onto the hood of a car, drove around at 80km/h with the gate of a mini van wide open, sitting off the tailgate as I held a camera. Ok, so you got me; your first idea isn’t always your best. The point is I learned how to make mistakes and learn from them, something I value more now than most of my successes.
In all honesty, if you are looking for a way to do something quick and cheap, DIY isn’t necessarily for you. It takes a lot of time and effort, and at the end of the day, it could end up being more expensive than one expects. However, the skills I have learned in the process have been absolutely invaluable: soldering, woodworking, basic electronics, and most of all the insatiable need to understand the way the world around me works.
When you DIY you tend to appreciate what you have. We fill our lives with “stuff,” and when that stuff breaks, or you just don’t like it anymore, you buy more stuff. And we form an endless cycle of stuff that fills our homes and our landfills. Sometimes the homes themselves become landfills (see Hoarders). I say nay! Take your old stuff and make it new again, or better yet, someone else’s stuff. You would be surprised how far a paintjob goes. And the stuff you do have to buy, (because no-one has enough time to whittle an entire set of spoons) you are going to appreciate more, because you understand the systems and processes involved in its creation.
DIY can be anything, it doesn’t have to just involve physically building. It gets you thinking and hones your ability to solve problems. With the advent of crowd funding behemoths such as Kickstarter, DIY for some people can be a path to a rewarding career. I can guarantee Nikolai Tesla loved him some DIY, Archimedes was a maker and Alexander Graham Bell was just a dude sick and tired of writing letters. Trust me, DIY is going to make your life better and hey, if you’re nice, I might even lend you some tools to get started.
CC photograph courtesy of gullevek on Flickr.