Making has removed the fear to try. I’m not afraid to fail because failing is learning. I’ve taken apart electronics, small engines, and my car, and after that you learn that the only thing stopping you from fixing whatever you want is unfounded fear.
I started a hackerspace with some soon-to-be friends about 5 years ago. We went on to run a video game company together, which led to us creating the largest non-profit representing game companies in Chicago, and personally, my teaching game development at DePaul University. …I now teach classes on programming and, soon, creating custom game controllers and consoles. All from creating a hackerspace and learning from other really smart members there. Quite the leap!
My own creative interests bring me into contact with some remarkably talented, incredibly inspiring people. That is probably the greatest benefit of all.
My creative work keeps me grounded. It helps me relax and forget about work-related problems. My knitting group is better than group therapy, and spending an evening with them gives me energy that I can bring to work the next day. I have often found that focusing on a creative project clears my mind so that I can then focus on a work-related issue in a new way.
Seeing my lifelong interest in crafting with fabric and fiber in the context of the maker movement has been liberating. I am more aware of the process of creation, and more willing to try new things. In turn, I think this has helped me think more creatively about how to approach work situations. Instead of seeing one “right” way of getting something done, I am more willing to explore a variety of paths to get to the desired destination.
My personal life makes my work life. There is a constant overlap in my interests, skills, abilities, and passions. At work, I’m simply a focused version of myself, and that focus moves to what our customers bring to the table. These could be napkin sketches of products, or hundred page binders of market research and ID renderings, but I have to design and make prototypes. My skills in my professional life come from my personal life, and both build off one another every day.
Ultimately my personal experiences help me to develop skills and confidence that can be applied to my professional work. I work for a museum and run a program the helps students build skills and confidence through making and inventing. Most of our workshop time is spent supporting the students think, make, improve, and show their own inventions and projects. Most of my projects are prototypes to be used to teach concepts and skills to the students.
I’ve worked in a custom fabrication shop for quite a while which gives me skills in productivity. I get to play with design in my spare time which I feel helps with problem solving in the production side. Many products that are produced take a great deal of problem solving before production can begin to maintain a productive flow.
In my own case, I have learned that I need to view everything I do from every side, measuring twice and cutting once, and keeping the tools sharp and ready. What can seem like a slow start can actually be a fast and efficient conclusion with no need to stop and restart, or fix errors, or duplicate effort.