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The Problem With Maker Culture for Computer Arts M...

The Problem With Maker Culture for Computer Arts Magazine (April 2016 Issue)

More than a Pinterest-inspired weekend craft, DIY is now an approach to life that has millions of people quitting their jobs to actualize their self-made business dreams.

Fueled by passion and driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, this evolution is challenging our industries for the better — but it’s also pissing a lot of people off.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled that more people are becoming business owners (a trend I believe is inevitable), however, the culture that surrounds this phenomenon promotes half-truths and rose-coloured glasses ideals about what it means to be a self-made creative professional, a trend which dilutes and cheapens the industry.

Social media and online publications left and right promote the idea that if you simply “do” and “make”, you’ll become a success — a false truth begging for failure. Creating is a mentality that we should all embrace, not a badge to be worn and the headline-skimming culture we’ve created (supported by overnight insta-fame) not only leads to unfair beliefs based on shallow perceptions, but undermines the hard work of the oodles of creative professionals who paved the way.

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Image above: The clipping of the article | Computer Arts Magazine, Issue 253

From the buzzword language we use, to the way we curate our image, we need to do a better job of revealing the bigger picture. While harmless, this aspirational-quote and 140-character culture we live in romanticizes and simplifies the most serious aspects of our lives and careers, promoting a one-sided impression of what it means to be a creative or self-made professional. The hype is lying by omission: it doesn’t take into account the guts, sleepless nights, strong work ethic, business savvy, time, and professional training it takes to make it in this saturated space — where, even then, success isn’t a guarantee.

I find myself sandwiched between a generation of professionals rolling their eyes at the train-hoppers and young entrepreneurs who want a shot. I champion new creators, but see a lack of respect birthed from maker culture, and on the other hand, I defend the experienced professionals, but witness a “back in my day” attitude.

You cannot work in a silo and expect to make it simply because you have a good attitude and use relevant hashtags (and that’s a really, really good thing), and conversely, scoffing at new blood is tacky unless you’re willing to offer your insight.

We all need to talk more.

For every article giving tips on how to start a creative business, we need to put forth that having a can-do attitude is not always the secret ingredient to a client’s tight deadline. So please, go forth and make something (of) yourself, but do so with respect to those who have paved the way. Break the rules, but only after you’ve done your due-diligence beyond lurking social media. Do yourself a favor and make sure you’re willing to continue your practice, even when you hate it and it hates you, because it would suck if, when the fad fades, those still chugging along in the self-made creative space are left in the dust — tired and undercut.

This article was adapted from this blog post and was published in Computer Arts Magazine, Issue 253