Why Do You Make?


Why do you make?

I’ve spent most of the last 10 years studying why we believe. What is it that secures our faith in the unknowable, how we can believe different things and share so many convictions, why what we believe seeps into the cracks of every aspect of life.

As my study matured, I began to understand that faith is not merely a reflection of our religion or spirituality but an undeniable relationship we have with the simplest act.

Which is why I find the study of art & craft so fascinating.

What drives us to create? How do we deny the easy – pick-me-one-up-at-Target – and embrace the challenge to manifest (quite literally) what we really want?

Just as religious people have been found to be happier and more able to deal with life’s ups & downs, I’ve noticed that makers are happier than consumers.

Whether you’re making art or consuming art.
Making craft or consuming it.
Making words or consuming them.
Making your career or consuming it.
Making love or consuming it.

So help me out with some research as I continue studying this fundamental trait we share.

Why do you make?

Leave your response below or post it on your own blog & leave your link in the comments.

{ archival photo print of painted cut paper by Elly MacKay }

54 thoughts on “Why Do You Make?

  1. I make because I have a deeper connection with things when I make them.

    Like today, instead of running to the store to get some new pjs, which would have taken half an hour, I used my fabric stash to make some which took 3 hours. But every time I see my creation I am transported back to the time and I remember fact that I was able to make them.

    For me, sometimes, there is no greater feeling than when I’m making something that I designed come to life. Like I surprise my self with my own abilities.

  2. Why do you make?

    I make because it’s very therapeutic to me. It allows me to do “whatever” I want. I can channel my energy through my work. The ideas and thoughts never stop going through my head and now I have a place to make those come to life.

    Thanks for asking!

  3. I make because I love to be creative. I also love taking what someone wants and turning it into a reality. custom orders are my favourite. I have made “things” for friends and family for years and there is no feeling like seeing someone moved by a creation of yours – lovely xx bunny xx

  4. I have an inexplicable drive to make things. My boyfriend is constantly like, “honey, why don’t you just buy one? It’d be so much easier.”

    But without fail I think of something I need – and inspiration always hits me out of nowhere – and I am completely restless until I can get to work on it. I always have 1000 projects of things I want to make, and I’m completely depressed if I don’t have any and will invariably make one up.

    So aside from it being this innate need for me, it’s also incredibly fulfilling. I am proud when I finish something, and I feel connected with it like Danielle said. It’s truly mine and something I practically “gave birth to.”

    I think I get it from my dad. He’s the original “maker” in my book, although more often than not it was out of necessity. I remember painting the shed with him when I was probably only 4 years old. Building a staircase on Thanksgiving morning a few years ago. And those are the times I cherish most with him :-)

  5. I make because it keeps me sane. My fingers start to twitch and my brain won’t stop so I pick up a paintbrush, needle and thread or pencil and channel that energy into sometime creative and ultimately more productive. It’s survivalist, to be sure.

  6. it’s really very mysterious, for the reasons you suggest. i need to do it; it makes me happy, the doing; it makes me happy, the giving; it makes me happy, the wearing/using. but it’s a need, and i can’t way why. i’m grateful for it, because i’m never bored. if i wake up at 3am i get up, because i can have that time to myself, to make things….

    i think it’s an expression of my self (not myself). trees leaf, the earth peoples, i make.

  7. I HAVE to make things. It’s when I’m the most focused and content. I love the mental challenge of trying to figure out how to make new things. I want to keep learning and it’s a craving that I’ve never been able to get rid of.

  8. Some things I make because I can make them for less than if I bought them.

    Many things I make because I am very particular and cannot find exactly what I want.

    Often, those two things combine where the closest thing I can find to what I want is incredibly expensive, so I make it myself for less.

    Then, there are things that I make because otherwise they will bounce around in my head and make my fingers itch.

  9. I make as a major form of self expression as I often don’t have the words. There is a lot of pain in my soul and confusion ~ making items or doing my photographic work helps to emote in a positive, creative and nourishing way.

  10. Good question!

    This question got me to thinking about the answer. I’ve never really thought much about it before because I’ve always made. I mean, always – it’s in my DNA. My mom always made stuff and so did my grandmother. My grandfather was a dairy farmer, and my Dad was an engineer. I guess he designed stuff and then made it.

    As a child, I actually thought everyone was a maker, too. When I grew up, I found that wasn’t the case, but that’s okay. Those I know who are not makers do other cool stuff like bookeeping and teaching. In some ways, maybe that is what they make.

    So, Tara, I guess this is my answer: I just make. I’m not sure how to do {be} otherwise. It’s just who I am.

  11. Hi, Tara.

    First, I have to say: TheaterCloud’s work is breathtaking, isn’t it?

    To answer your question:

    Making comes naturally to me. Whether it’s writing or art or crafting…it’s just something that’s always been a part of me. It makes me incredibly happy. I can’t imagine being any other way.

    There was a time when I would’ve argued quite stubbornly and confident in my argument that I wasn’t an artist. No way, no how. I didn’t see myself particularly skilled at it. But even then, looking back at that period in my life, I made so much art it was kind of ridiculous. Doodles, I called them back then. Playing around. Not “real art”. But art nonetheless. Which made me, regardless of whether or not I took the title, an artist.

    I think just like some people are born athletes, some people are born makers.

    And thank God, because, oh, how the makers make this world a much more beautiful, fun, dreamy place to exist.

  12. I make because it’s so much more meaningful. There’s love put into gifts that I make and it’s so gratifying to give handmade. There’s a feeling of accomplishment that comes with the end product, but also the joy of creating, of figuring out, making it work, trying new things. My most treasured possessions are handmade things from others. They’re priceless and the memories of loved ones go on through their handiwork.

  13. There are many reasons why I make, but mainly it is because, it’s just who I am. Designer by day (at work) and night (for freelance), the lines tend to blur as I take my work to heart and really feel it is a part of me. I know that I view my career much differently than most people, it’s not just a job, my work defines me.

    I love that you mentioned faith, as I base my life on that, believing that each opportunity (or letdown) is taking me on the path right where I should be. It’s crazy to look back and realize how things truly worked out as they should. Like, I had that horrible job where I cried every day because it taught me life lessons, and gave me the experience to be where I am today.

    Always the artist wanting to express myself, I got a tattoo with the symbol of faith at age 18. Now, older (and I’d like to think wiser) I added to my collection this year the saying “Aspire to Inspire”, to remind myself of why I create; to make the world better, one piece of artwork at a time. And as Mary Ellen mentioned, not everyone is a maker, at least in the form of arts/crafts, but they do make in their own ways. And that’s ok, in fact, that’s great. It wouldn’t be as special if we were all makers in the same way. :)

  14. I think one of the reasons I make is to interact with the world. I made a lot of art in college and focused on sculpture because it wasn’t just capturing and image of the world or expressing something on a piece of paper, but it was creating something that I could also interact with.

    Now I sew a lot and make lots of food from scratch and I make things because I want to understand how they are made and I want to contribute in a positive way to all the things that we have in the world, I like the challenge of making something instead of buying it. I think that creating is such a part of who I am that is has to be part of how I make my way in the world and understand it. Its really difficult to exactly articulate my reasons for making….

  15. I make because I have to. I started making many years ago because my mother, aunt, cousin and grandmother all ‘made’ – they sewed, baked, cooked… they were all producing things of their own. It came quite naturally to me, and while the need to make has ebbed and flowed over the years, I feel my most comfortable when I’m making something.

    I want to make more in my life and become more of a self-produced person (and family), almost to thumb my nose at the locals who won’t buy anything that isn’t in stock at Wal-Mart by the dozens.

  16. If I don’t sit down with my pens and ink every day, I get cranky, uptight, and feel like the world is passing me by. I create because I must. I create because it gives the greatest sense of pleasure to me every time. And, lastly, I create because I feel like I am doing a small part to make this world a more beautiful, connected place.

  17. I agree, Tara, making is so much more satisfactory than buying (I’ve never heard of creator’s remorse…)

    I love creating for the same reasons as people in comments above – making something is therapeutic, moral boosting, fun and, above all, a tangible achievement at the end of the day (unlike tidy kitchen or a pile of ironed clothes that just gets messy and wrinkled all over again).

    Creating something myself (sewing, repairing, renewing,…) is also something I’ve learned from my parents and intend to pass on to my children – the feeling is even stronger in our times when we are surrounded by cheap, low quality products that don’t last more than one season.
    At the same time I do buy things that I could probbably make myself but don’t have the time or inspiration (I am thrilled to have found Etsy where I can find creative people to buy amazing handmade stuff from).

    I also support exchange of creativity, offering a skill in return for another skill (I teach you how to sew, speak Italian,…, you make a birthday cake for my son, repair my bike,…).

    Everybody is creative in one way or another, people are just to shy to explore their true gift or are told too many times that buying store made things is better – at this time of year I am constantly amazed at the amount of garbage that is sold (and eventually gets bought) in shops and at the price people are willing to pay for, lets say, a kitchy, glittering, plastic Christmas ornament instead of paying the same money or even less to a local wood carving artist or potter for a unique, handmade heirloom ornament…

    Happy handmade holidays, everyone!

  18. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction, the fact that I have actually created something myself is fulfilling.
    Also knowing that someone else loves my handmade things is just wonderful, gives me a great sense of appreciation and happiness.

    What one of us creative people does not look at the things around us and not want to have a go at doing it ourselves?

  19. Making isn’t the right word; I consider it “creating”. Whether it’s knitting, gardening, cooking or other things I enjoy doing. It’s the process of seeing and unlocking the promise and expressing the potential; yarn into a garment, a seed into a plant, simple ingredients into a meal. There’s a special enjoyment and satisfaction when completing and sharing the finished project. For me, it’s as important as breathing and it makes me feel more connected to the world. I’m happy when I creating; unhappy when I’m not. Buying something from a mass retailer just doesn’t provide the same type of postive energy.

  20. I make because I can, and because I like the challenge of “I think I can make it” and with each challenge comes the reward of fulfillment. “I did it” and then the “I did it well or I can do it better”. And I give because of the joy of the sparkle of appreciation of “You made this?”

    For me I want to know as much as possible. I feel like a big sponge for the knowledge of making. I just want to suck it all up. I want to know how to do everything. Because the more I learn then I can apply that to many things and it spreads in my ability to create and create better.

    I also think that for a lot of us it is in our blood from ancient times and making and crafting is how we survived the world of “tribes”. The “art of making”. It wasn’t is a choice if you wanted you had to create it. Some of us still operate in that mode and enjoy. Oh how I wish I could barter my goods more in everyday life.

  21. I make because I have a need to take bits and pieces and see something new come from them. Whether I use thread and beads to tat snowflakes or yarn and a knitting loom to make a scarf; I enjoy the process and the final result.

  22. I make because I have to. It’s my comfort zone, my happy place, it when I feel the most “me”. It’s one part self-expression and one part self-discovery.

    Beyond that, I make because I know I can – I like finishing a project and feeling a sense of accomplishment because my hands made it.

  23. Like so many folks up above, making is part of who I am. When I’ve gone awhile without making, I am a MISERABLE person to be around! Some of my best work is literally exploded out of me – when I have an idea, it swirls around my head, getting louder and louder (because I’ve usually got so much on my plate that I don’t have time to make it when i first have the idea) until I turn to the hubby and say, if I don’t make ______ now, I’m gonna explode! We’ve both learned that when I say this, I mean it! :-)

  24. I make because it’s my creative outlet and my escape from the boring 9-5 life. I don’t have to answer to anyone. I can make something silly or something serious, something dark or something bright. I get such satisfaction from creating a work of wearable art that is worn around for the world to see. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing someone where my jewelry and absolutely love it as much as I loved making it. It’s rewarding to make it yourself!

  25. I make because of the immense satisfaction I get when I complete a piece. Knowing that I made my own workbenches makes me feel good about myself and I was able to make them the way that I wanted them to be. It also helps me keep my brain sharp when I have to problem solve when something doesn’t work out the way I thought. Thinking this way helps keep my mind off of other things that are bothering me that I have no control over.

    I also make (specifically my metalwork) because I feel that it is what I’m meant to be doing. I had an actual moment where I was hammering and I knew that this is what I was meant to be doing for the rest of my life. I feel crappy when I can’t get into the studio. I feel better when I’m working and finishing pieces. The bigger or more complicated the piece, the better I feel when I’m able to make it work out.

  26. I agree with some others in that I create because I have to. I started as a child, I suppose like all children, but by the time I was thirteen and unhappy at school, I realized I was happy only when creating: sewing, drawing, sculpting, whatever. The act of creating, in all its stages, is soothing, and takes me into a world of my own.

  27. Is there any other way?
    To make, to create is the only way to live for me.
    When I focus on a project nothing else matters. It keeps me grounded, while my hands keep busy, my mind wonders to create the next project.

  28. I make for several reason. But these 4 mostly…

    1. nature AND nurture – Like so many others, I was born with creative tendencies, evident from a very young age. My parents were makers…my dad made our furniture, my mom made my clothes. My grandparents were makers….my grandfather a medical photographer and my grandmother a graphic designer/illustrator (She is now 87 years old and I love that we have this in common, especially with of all the technology differences)

    2. its the best medicine/therapy I know of – trust me, I’ve tried it all

    3. expression – I am not naturally an outgoing person. I have definite shy tendencies. Making gives me the platform to go where I would normally be too afraid to venture.

    4. connection – I went through several really lonely and really scary years. Then I started sharing some of the things I made online. Being a maker has connected me to a larger purpose and a larger community than I ever dreamed could be possible.

    I am so grateful to be a maker. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  29. I know that my “soul” purpose in life is to share happiness and joy with every single person I can reach. For me, that outlet is creating uplifting and encouraging artwork. Making is meditative. I channel whatever comes through and allow it to flow from within to paper…

    I love reading these comments. Thank you so much for question :)

  30. I make because before I made, I thought, and that didn’t make me deeply happy.

    Working in academic fields has its own rewards – but it’s completely different to being able to sit back and *look* at a real, tangible thing that you have brought into being. Amazing. And then to send it out into the world, where other people will love and treasure it – for it to exist even after I am gone.

    For all these reasons and many more.

  31. i make because it is as imperative as breathing or eating or exercising. if i deny myself the act of creating, i feel the pressure build and build within me until i just burst and can deny it no longer. it’s also the most fulfilling thing i can do with my life. when i’m stressed, or unhappy, or tired, or overwhelmed, i create. afterward, i can sleep again, i have newfound clarity, and a renewed energy to face whatever lies ahead. when i’m happy, and excited, and inspired, i create! afterward, i am even more sure about the meaning of my life. i love to create for me, for that part within that needs to create to be happy. but i also create for loved ones, for my spiritual growth, for bringing awareness to those in need, to give voices to those who are unheard. i feel creating is a gift given me from the universe, an honor to perform, and my duty to make the world a better place.

    thanks for this! i hadn’t ever REALLY stopped to think this through and it was a very special opportunity to remind myself of why i make.

  32. I make because I can’t sit still. I cannot just sit and watch TV, I need to keep my hands busy.

    I love the feeling of making a meal and realizing that it is the best thing I have ever tasted or of making a new design and realizing that it is gorgeous.

    I make because i like the feeling of accomplishment and the feeling of knowing that I did it all myself.

  33. I create because I love trying to capture the beautiful world around me.

    I create so I can gift the people I love with things that will make them smile.

    I create because there are other worlds than this one and I want to explore them.

  34. I love the challenge of making something out of nothing. I was raised that way and am so grateful. The satisfaction of self-sufficiency is addicting. Oh…but don’t get me wrong…I do love to get stuff…but stuff that is beautiful and practical…always practical…at least in my mind!

  35. I love to create, I have done so since I was a child. I will be very honest, I had my innocence taken from me as a 7 year old, & because of this I inevitably became a shy introverted child who stayed at home and made the most of my time doing things to entertain myself, such as draw, knit, sew, paint & so much more. I obviously blocked out everything with my creative energy whilst I was young, which was good for me. My Parents used to take some of my drawings to work with them, when they came home I would get such remarks as ‘Your Daughter has talent, she should do something with it’ said my Mums boss. So I adore craft, I have a mad stash of paper, fabric, pens, glues, sequins, all sorts & more, & in every place possible, cupboard or drawer. And I love it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m in my 40’s now and feel a little saddened that I didn’t do something with it whilst I was a lot younger, but this is my time now & just at the minute I have my kitchen surfaces and the living room floor heaving with stuff. Breakfast, dinner or tea up the breakfast bar has become a thing of the past, as I have no more room left for such things. Half made cushions and door hangers sit where my plates used to belong and as for my living room, my art has taken over, pictures I have to finish are strewn across it waiting for the bit that tells me I have something else to add. It is my wonderful sanctuary of craft.

  36. I cannot rest if I don’t make. My brain whirs and my fingers twitch. The project must be done! It must be done right! And then it is done and I can sleep until I realize something isn’t perfect and then I make again!

  37. I make because I enjoy sharing my creativity with everyone that wants to see it. I am constantly thinking about what to design or make, and seeing others’ creations inspire me to try making new things as well, making the cycle never ending! I feel accomplished after finishing something, and when I see that people appreciate what I make, it just makes it worth it.

    Before I started designing and getting into the whole world of crafting I was a uninspired, looking for my purpose type of person. Now I feel like I have a purpose and feel more inspired than I have in years!

  38. I have asked myself this question and come up with many answers like: because I love to make, I love the process, I love the result, the way making expresses what I can’t in any other form…and none of these completely get it. I concluded for me that I don’t have to have a reason. Making is as much a part of me as breathing and to not make is to not fully be myself. As I have embraced not having a clear answer to why, I have found myself more free to create and I love that!

  39. I make because I know nothing else—my life would be meaningless without the ability to pour out the good things that fill me up inside. I make because it’s the way I was created to not only navigate the world around me but also to interact with it. I communicate better visually. I learn better by doing. It’s a two-way street for me, or at least a stream that I do best by flowing with instead of fighting against.

  40. I make because I have to. Lonely things call to me, asking to be touched and remembered. Because I cannot be still, without a purpose. Sometimes I draw, at times I make jewelry, or write poetry… There is always something to be rearranged, mixed up, and looked at in a different light. For me, being a woman has made me feel that I am a creative being if only by physical attributes… However, I am beginning to understand that there is a direct connection to the womb and the cycle of creation and re-creation, birth and re-birth…I never feel alone when I am ‘making’, there are whispers all around!

  41. I make because my vision won’t be denied. Ideas haunt my dreams and seep into my daily life until I give them their due. Breathing life into what was once merely a spark (making) quickens my pulse as I am both exhilarated and satisfied.

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