In the current age of hyper-consumerism and world wide throw-away culture, it's comforting to know that small scale creators of high quality handmade things not only exist, but seem to be growing.
People who are following their heart, designing and creating in small rooms and studios down side streets and isolated corners of the mainstream get my total respect and admiration.
The world needs more of this, although there was a time when I used to believe the contrary. Instead of more staff, more clients, more profit, all I want these days is less stuff and more quality.
As most of the world lives with the belief that bigger is better, some of us are assigned to the belief that less is more, and the knife maker Joel Bukiewicz is a perfect example.
The guy is a fucking A grade hero in my eyes.
“The difference between my knife, that spends let's say, 15 hours in my hands all the way through the process, and a knife that gets made in Germany by like 10 different robots over like a 15 minute period is all really in the details. There needs to be a human element in the making of these things…” – Joel Bukiewicz
The Knife Maker
I first came across Joel Bukiewicz a few years back while I was searching for something completely unrelated online.
Joel tipifies everything that excites me about art. And although I have told his story before, I wanted to introduce you guys to him again here.
Bukiewicz is a university graduate and holds an MFA in fiction writing. When his first manuscript failed to get published he was hit hard.
He decided to step away from writing completely for a couple of months as a break and re-evaluate his direction.
His creativity needed expression and while away from writing he found himself drawn to making random stuff on a daily basis.
He had somewhat of a fascination with knives and he thought it would be exciting to try make one. So when he wasn't doing random jobs to make money, he was in his parent's shed working on his ideas.
Becoming A Master
He began making hunting knives and before long he was selling his work successfully, with customers willing to wait over a 12 months for a completed piece.
After a while creating hunting knives, he realised that his work invariably ended up on shelves as ornaments. So he thought a kitchen line would be more useful to people.
He thought a kitchen line of knives would be simple, so he set about creating one. It proved to be anything but simple and 2 years later he had completed his first kitchen knife that he could actually be proud of.
About making it, about becoming an expert, Bukiewicz says;
“And so those things are the same with writing and with knife making, it just takes you know, buckets of blood and sweat and fuckin' work to get there, that's it, to get good, to get competent. And then once you become competent maybe you have it in you to become an artist, maybe you don't.”
The Joy & Excitement of Being Creative
I can't imagine anything better than to create something unique with your own hands and watch as others get enjoyment from it.
When there's no ulterior motivation other than to make something great, the door opens to a creative impulse that nothing and no one else can replicate.
Money for many creative people comes second, for some it's not even on the table. But I don't believe that we need to be broke in order to make something great. It should be a natural by product of creativity, unless we block it.
I watched this a Steve Jobs interview from around 1996 recently. In it he explains how he got started and how money was never an important factor for him in making computers.
His driving force was to create something beautiful and valuable for people. He also had a business mindset which meant that he was able to turn that ambition into dollars.
Some believe money and artistic integrity can't occupy the same plane of existence, but I don't. Some would like to believe that in order to maintain integrity creatives can't and shouldn't make more money than they need to survive.
I think that's bullshit, and I would hope at some point in the future to prove my belief right.
Winning The Lottery
I don't believe in simply surviving, I believe everyone can thrive if they do what they love. What stops us is our belief that there is no alternative to the system of society that we currently live.
We fear leaving the familiarity of our current lifestyle and are willing to accept all the negatives that come with that for the sake of so called security.
Joel Bukiewicz says when he found his tribe and his work became validated by the food industry in New York it was like winning the lottery.
That's just awesome.
Making something real, unique, genuine, uncontrived, simply for the sake of it and having the benefit of others obtaining value from it, is everything to me.
I think everyone of us can have this and if it's not what you currently have then it's only a matter of time. I really believe that.
If you can be brave enough to follow your heart then doors will open where there were none before. Opportunities will present themselves that will lead to wonderful things.
It simply has to.
Yeah maybe I'm being unrealistic, but I don't see an alternative for us as a race of people.
Increasing consumption of throw away things, hyper consumerism and the dilution of quality for the sake of quantity is destroying our planet and ourselves.
Given that all hope for personal survival is lost the day we are born, that is to say we're all leaving here the same way, then there is no better reason to start doing what we love and nothing else.