Since the dawn of time, humans have had the capacity, yearning, and need to create. From the original carvers and rudimentary tool makers, the maker movement was born.
It’s evolved over time, but never disappeared, and the movement today looks like none before it. What’s the difference? Technology.
What Is the Maker Movement?
As defined by AdWeek, “The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers.
A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine, Make, as well as hands-on Maker Faires that are catnip for DIYers who used to toil in solitude.
Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design, and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers.
The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in-China merchandise.”
Technically makers are anyone who creates and produces, especially through tinkering and innovation. Those who sew, weave, make candles, or maintain a homestead are makers.
Some define it by the fact that a person makes something rather than consuming something.
However, the movement is tightly engrained with technology and is often defined by such, meaning that many in the Movement describe makers as those who use computerized programs to aid in their work.
The truth is, a Maker is anyone who makes something of any type, with or without tools. The Makers of today simply have a lot more tools at their disposal, as you’ll see in the following discussion.
How the Maker Movement Got Its Start
Most sources credit Dale Dougherty, the father of Make Magazine, with coining the term Maker Movement when the magazine launched in 2005.
The purpose of the magazine was and is to bring together like-minded creators interested in learning, sharing, and working collaboratively.
Who Is Considered a Maker?
Throughout the years, the phrase has been used to drive home an idea in many sectors of DIY land.
Martha Stewart considers herself a Maker and a supporter of the Maker Movement, saying, “All across America, millions of artisans, craftsmen, small business entrepreneurs, and innovators are fueling a ‘third-wave industrial revolution.’
I am thrilled by the success of this ‘Maker Movement,’ which celebrates the values of self-reliance, skilled labor, and creative expression that l learned as a child growing up in Nutley, N.J.”
Similarly, inventors, scientists, engineers, small business owners, developers, designers, programmers, woodworkers, metal workers, hobbyists, artists, and countless others have earned the label of Maker.
In a sense, we’re all makers, whether that means making a garden, a scrapbook, an electric bike, a software program, a table, a ceramic pot, or bread. As a member of the DoItYourself community, you’re almost certainly a maker.
Why the Maker Movement Is Important
As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of all invention.” Inasmuch, we are constantly on the lookout for ways to make our lives easier--at work, at play, and in our everyday lives.
Innovation is sewn into our very genetic makeup. We innovate to solve problems. We design and redesign for aesthetic appeal. We look to use resources more efficiently, create smaller, lighter products, and find ways to increase profits.
Whatever the goal, a Maker is there to create a solution.
Makers are the path to the future.
The key that unlocks those innovations and solutions to humanity’s problems lies in the fact that the tools are so readily available. They are accessible to a larger number of people and to those who may not have had the opportunity of exposure previously.
Take, for example, a mechanic. Once upon a time, an interested party would have to job shadow a professional, be taught by a parent, or go to mechanic school.
Today, anyone can look up engine schematics on the internet, watch YouTube videos, and tap into the newest available technologies.
The same holds true for software engineers, furniture designers, or product makers. With 3D printers, laser cutters, CAD software, open source data, and computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines, anyone with an interest can become a maker.
That feeds into an entire generation of makers, like soldiers for the future.
Many Makers are simply hobbyists, people interested in learning more about something they enjoy in their free time.
However, a growing number of these hobbyists are now making money on their designs or even starting small businesses as a result.
Collaborative workspaces began popping up with the original Maker Movement, giving citizens of many communities a place to tinker and toil.
Called makerspaces, these community workspaces were, and are, set up to support anyone wanting to create. They are often equipped with materials, educational materials, and even volunteers eager to share information.
These spaces provide the resources many people wouldn’t otherwise be able to access due to space or monetary constraints.
In many countries, including the United States, the need to invest in the future of product development and manufacturing has guided education.
In an effort to increase interest in the studies related to innovations, the government, schools, and parents have taken a renewed interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.
Students at all levels have an unprecedented opportunity to venture into these classes where they can not only be taught, but be allowed to experiment.
Other Contributing Resources
In addition to the internet and maker spaces, there are a vast number of ways the technology of today is offering support to blossoming Makers.
There are many resources that provide a better understanding of the Movement and how to get involved. Look for magazines, conventions, video channels, and Web-based marketplaces.
When it comes to finding out about products or selling goods online, social media has provided a new, and lucrative income stream opportunity. Content creators at all levels can now tap into audiences in ways that weren’t available to prior generations.
Here are some ways you can become a part of the Maker Movement.
1. Buy New Equipment
Technological innovations are time consuming and expensive to bring to market. But technology moves quickly, allowing advancements and lower prices to follow. Those devices that were financially out of reach just a few years ago might be just what you need to delve into a new hobby or interest today.
Look into getting your own 3D printer, CAD software, laser printer, or other specialized tools.
2. Facebook Marketplace
If you’ve already started making products, look for a place to post them for sale. The Facebook Marketplace is a popular choice, with a vast audience of active consumers who might be looking for exactly what you have to offer.
While it’s lost some steam due to scammers, Craigslist used to be the premiere listing marketplace, and it still holds cred as such. Categories are easy to find, listings are easy to make, and the filters help shoppers find what you’re selling.
If you have a handmade product, Etsy is the place to promote it. Customers come to Etsy because they want to support Makers just like you. They are looking for bespoke options and would rather get a one-of-a-kind product than one from Amazon or a box store.
Take advantage of the platform to get in touch with customers from around the world.
It’s been around forever, and it’s still a popular way to connect people globally. With a long-standing, tried and true platform, selling on eBay is easy to manage.
Social media holds a nearly incomprehensible power as a marketing tool. If you’ve got started on Tiktok reels you might know how addictive they can be.
Contributing your own Tiktoks might be just the advertising tool you need to bring attention to a product.
Remember Tiktokkers want to be entertained, so bring humor to your clips. Also make sure all your product and contact information are easy to find.
7. Insta Reels
Get active on Instagram as a business marketing tool. It’s an incredibly popular platform and a space where people look for products.
If your Instagram account meets criteria, you’ll be invited to join Insta Reels, where you can also provide video content that pays you.
8. Subscribe to Make Magazine
Credited as where it all began, it only makes sense to keep up with what’s new in the Maker’s world via a subscription to Make Magazine. Find inspiration, information, and education all in one place.
The online website offers videos, projects, gift ideas, recipes, upcycling prompts, product recommendations, organizational tools, and much, much more.
It’s a database of information and collaboration where you can learn, teach, explore, participate, and shop.
9. Attend a Faire
The magazine that started it all wants to engage audiences at all levels. Thus it sponsors the Maker Faire, an in-person convention for creative and curious people.
“From tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers, Maker Faire is where novices and experts of all ages come together to show what they’ve made and share what they’ve learned. A community built on curiosity, collaboration, and resourcefulness.” Maker Faire
Faires take place domestically everywhere from Idaho and Wisconsin to California and Mississippi. Internationally, you can attend a faire in countless countries as well.
10. Start Your Own Faire
If you don’t have a Maker Faire in your region, you can develop one for your community or school with support from the Maker Faire organization to make planning and implementation easier.
Highlight the efforts of community members or school-aged children to drive interest and understanding about the Maker Movement.
11. Listen to Podcasts
Countless podcasts tap into different forms of DIY tasks. Run a search for your topic of choice on your favorite podcast platform. You’ll hear interviews, tips and tricks, and techniques to guide you on your way.
Also look into general Maker podcasts such as:
The Modern Maker Podcast by Michael Montgomery
The Maker’s Playbook
Maker Made Podcast by Tyler Westfall & Bryan Luke
12. Scour DoItYourself.com
Of course, you have a comprehensive knowledge base at your fingertips right here on DoItYourself.com. We are an exhaustive resource for all things DIY, so if you’re dabbling in the Maker Movement, we’ve got you covered.
From crafts to cooking to woodworking, automotive, building a tiny home or shed, or constructing a house, you can make what you want and we’re here to support you.
13. See it, Make it
One of the foundational elements of the Maker Movement is curiosity. It’s that inspiration that makes you ask, “What if” and the motivation to try it for yourself.
When you see a tortilla in the package, ask how it’s made and find recipes.
When you have an idea for a shelf or magazine rack, grab some lumber and find a plan online.
If you have a 3D printer but no ideas, head to one of the many online resources with free downloadable software.
If you like a curtain design but hate the fabric, make your own with a fabric you prefer.
The idea is to be inquisitive about everything around you. Ask the question, “Can I make that?” Better yet, be determined and ask, “How can I make that?”.
Get in touch with your inner artist and creator. Remember, we used to make everything by hand before the industrial revolution. See yourself as a problem solver. Then get to work.
14. Take a Class
Whether your interests center around working in a shop, a craft room, a kitchen, or a computer, there’s a class that can help you learn new skills. You can delve into material in an online session or attend class in person at a local store, community college, or senior center.
Learn technical skills so you can better understand computer-aided design or how a 3D printer works. Dig into laser cutting so you can make unique metal signs, wooden key chains, trivets, puzzles, ornaments, and coasters.
Learn to use an engraver and start an engraving business. Take an electronic circuitry class to better understand currents so you can build your own electronic devices.
The Maker Movement is a grassroots movement. It’s meant to be a community and you’re part of it. Get involved in one of the many ways listed above and see where it takes you.
DoItYourself.com has a variety of articles to whet your curious palette. Check out Computer Software for Designing a Bathroom, look at these 8 Affordable 3D Printers, and check out How to Build a Log Dresser to get you started.