RVA Makers: What’s In A Name?

If a group of birds is a flock, a group lions is a pride, and a group of whales is a pod, what is a group of small business owners? What if the businesses range from carpenters to screen printers, florists to chocolatiers to artists? What if the group includes enthusiasts, dreamers, and other professionals as well as business owners? What do they have in common? How are they different from other industries and people?

At the heart of it, the thing all these folks have in common is hands-on production of an object that takes up physical space in the world. The modern maker movement has been gaining momentum since the early 2000s with the launching of companies like Etsy, Square, and Kickstarter. These sites provide tools that enable independent small businesses to work outside the traditional market. When we created RVA Makers in early 2013, we wanted to highlight these bootstrap entrepreneurs and enthusiasts. “Makers” was just the word to gather this theoretically disparate group together while tying it into the broader national movement.

Recently we asked folks in the maker community how they define “maker.” Here’s what they told us:

A maker is someone with a specific mindset that allows them to solve problems using what’s around them, and manifest ideas into objects (physical, digital, or otherwise).

One who creates something special from ordinary ideas.

A maker is someone that produces things with their hands, a small piece of themselves that they send out into the world, to be judged and critiqued by the masses.

The work of a maker is conceived in his/ her creative mind and executed with skillful hands. The maker identifies with his/ her work because it it part of him/ her. In comparison a manufacturer is someone who produces what he/ she is told to make.

A maker is a person who has the sexiest, dirtiest, wrinkliest, muscliest hands in the world that are kind of dry and splitting with some chipped nails here and there (sometimes missing a finger), possibly suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and wearing the occasional bandaid to protect a really deep cut that might need stitches but who’s got time for that, and no matter how much they try to wash them there’s still some crap stuck in the cracks of their skin… but DAMN those hands make some cool shit.

Makers have a pathological compulsion to make things.

Do these definitions resonate with you? Are you a maker? Want to hang out with other awesome makers? Join us the third Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 pm to check out a new studio or workshop! All our events are free and open to the public.

Follow RVA Makers on Facebook to keep up with events, and join the RVA Makers Forum on Facebook to be a part of the conversation! And make sure to check out the new RVA Makers website to see more maker definitions and to learn more about the maker community of Richmond. 

CategoriesGeneral, Makers, Work

Johannah Willsey is a visual artist and co-owner of Phoenix Handcraft, a design studio specializing in handmade works in metal, mosaic, & wood. She works to support local makers and artists through her role as a cofounder of RVA Makers and member of the Richmond Craft Mafia. Johannah is passionate about fostering community, exploring outdoor Richmond, and homeschooling her two children.