Monday, February 23, 2015
Some people collect stamps, some collect records. I collect clothing.
I collect work wear type clothing otherwise known as Heritage clothing.
It's really a subculture like punk rock was a subculture, the difference is, instead of making music, they make clothing.
It's strange, right? I could go into a deep explanation of this subculture but this isn't really about what I do in my spare time. In all honesty, I've been trying to explain it to my girl for the last 2 years, so I highly doubt I would be able to paint a picture for you all in a few paragraphs.
What it does come down to is...I made a new type of hanger.
Whoop-de-fuckin'-doo you say, and I can fully embrace your reaction, but in my defense, this little chunk of metal gave me 50% more closet space.
There's a man who I've been doing a lot of work for lately. His name is Otis Gibson and he owns a advertising agency called GERTRUDE.
Otis isn't just a client. Otis is a friend.
Otis is the type of man who sits at boardroom tables with executives who write checks ending in more zeros then you or I will ever be depositing in our ATM, so when I showed him this little gem, Otis said "Brian, can I give you some free advice?" and he put his fore finger to his lips and said "SHHHHHHHHHHH".
What he meant was that I was on to something and I should shut the fuck up until I could get a patent and attorneys and a 3rd party manufacturer.
I thought about it...every minute of every day since that conversation happened.
I did the math.
After working all the numbers and dissecting the equation, the final answer I came up with was...fuck that.
If Otis had hair he would be pulling it out right now. One of his favorite things to say to me is "what's wrong with you, don't you like MONEY?"
The truth of the matter is, by time I paid for technical drawings, a patent attorney, patent fees, a licensing attorney, a 3rd party manufacturer, marketing, graphic and packaging design and god knows what else...I'd only be a couple hundred grand in the hole.
I decided to take the dirt road as opposed to the nice paved tollway.
I'm gonna make them myself. Retailers or individuals can buy them from me and know that it came from my hand, one at a time.
Someone will eventually knock them off, have them made from plastic in China, make a zillion dollars, and the reality of our world is...that's just the way the fuckin' cookie crumbles.
I'd be delusional to think that my cookie would stay intact.
Bottom line is...I make shit by hand...one at a time...you either want that or you don't.
Here's my selling point though, for a retailer...If you're selling denim in the 2 to $400 range, why would you display them on a piece of shit hanger? I know the retailers margin, and lets just say that there is some room to jazz things up a little.
For the individual...you work hard, you spend good money on your clothing, why not gain some closet space and have something that compliments your investment in your clothing?
The final selling point is...they just look cool.
You wouldn't put regular gas in a Bugatti, or fill a million dollar home with IKEA furniture, right?
I've said it before and I'll say it again...I NEVER lose.
Even if I don't sell one, not one single one....I still have more room in my closet, and a jump on next Christmas's gift giving.
Monday, February 16, 2015
He brought it down to the shop so that he'd have something to eat his lunch off of.
It was in pretty bad shape. Clearly, an artist in the building was using it as their paint station, and it was a perfect table for that function. The height is just right, it's on wheels....perfect, except for one thing...it was a Herman Miller table from 1976.
That's like wearing a pair of $400 Mister Freedom jeans to go dig a septic tank under a cabin in the woods.
We actually have this giant Herman Miller table in the shop that is broken, and I was looking at the base of that table and comparing the two. They were exactly the same (except one is smaller and on wheels).
I "reclaimed" the table from Zack. I cleaned up the base, and removed the top and added a new old growth top. I also made a handle for the little guy. I did so because I could imagine that artist who probably used that table for years, had thought on more than one occasion..."man, I wish this table had a handle."
The second table is going to be a freestanding kitchen island.
The base is super heavy and can be bolted to a floor.
I had the grand idea of mortising the top of the base into the surface top. Lets just say that I'll never get those 2 hours back. It was a lot of work to hide the top of the base, but it was really worth it because now it looks like this giant top is balancing on a pole.
It's funny because all weekend I was thinking about how I was going to offer my 2 cents about self discovery and inspiration with these 2 pieces.
I mean, they're nice pieces, I'm quite happy with them, but I didn't really have any enlightening moments with them....until just now.
As I was re reading this post, I stopped for a second at the Mister Freedom part.
Mister Freedom makes clothing (www.misterfreedom.com)
I think that I became interested in what he was doing because when you look at his work, he truly does not give a fuck.
Actually I'm sure he gives a very large fuck about his work, just not about what peoples opinions are about it.
I don't have to explain to anyone why I put a rustic top with a handle on a $500 Herman Miller base, I don't have to explain why I made a 250lb. kitchen island with railroad spike heads jutting out.
Freedom is where the beauty hides in the things that are beautiful.
A narrow mind will look at something and say "oh, that's stupid", or "who would buy THAT?"
For me, when I see something a little different, a little funky, or just makes me raise an eyebrow...well, whatever it is that I'm looking at just commanded all my attention, and the artist or maker or whoever... just won.
Everybody is thirsty for the "how" and "why". It's easier to pass judgement when those questions are answered.
I've had people ask me why I've done something, and I'll ask them "what are you going to do with that information if I tell you?" Because once that question is asked, the sale has already vacated and I get to go into full smart ass mode.
The moral of the story is be free. Stop judging. Take a risk. Never explain your art.
Monday, February 9, 2015
The photos here are of projects that I've worked on during a regular work schedule.
The opportunity to do the type of work was provided to me by a man named Joe Cacciatore, who owns Lacuna artist lofts in Chicago.
It took a lot of life navigating to end up where I am.
I've framed houses, renovated hotels all over the country, worked for just about every shady contractor in Chicago, been a hardwood floor installer, been a cabinet installer, worked as a waiter, worked at fucking KINKO's, delivered newspapers, worked as a bouncer, worked for a handyman service, I even worked as the guy who shuts your cable off when you don't pay your bill.
My point is, I don't just sit in a hip-cool shop and re purpose materials into furniture. I work. When I'm not working...I'm still working.
I could most likely do a KICKSTARTER, raise a shit load of cash, and maybe open a store/shop, and then post all kinds of photos of my wonderful life.
I have all the makings for a successful KICKSTARTER, 2200 "LIKES" on Facebook, a blog with 20000 views, I provide unique products, I mean, we're talkin' KICKSTARTER gold right here.
That just ain't me.
I can't knock those that do (as much as that would make for good reading material).
Everyones situations are different. I know some people who have done a KICKSTARTER and they're good hardworking people doing good things, and that's the route they chose and it accelerated their business, Good for them and god bless.
Me...if I take money from someone, I feel like I OWE them. I don't wanna OWE anybody anything, and I sure as hell can't walk around with feeling like I owe somebody...I'd be a mess.
I do shit the hard way, because I'll never lose.
I have a great family, amazing friends, 42 years of knowledge, and ya know what...I'll always survive.
I'll always have my son to kick it with and eat pancakes for dinner, I'll always have my friends, the ones who have known me since I was a booger eatin' punk, and the new ones who are in the same boat as me, I'll have my girl who will always listen and lift me up when I feel beaten down, I'll have my dysfunctional family who's love never flickers.
I started making furniture outside of my kitchen with barely any tools, I found my passion, and I don't really feel the need to ask people to fund my dreams, I'll fund my own fuckin dreams.
No matter if I succeed or fail, I want to be part of a shrinking exclusive club of people who take full responsibility for their lives.
My KICKSTARTER model is this....put your head down and grind, day in and day out.. Fail often, failures are lessons that are going to make you more efficient. Last but not least...Love and be positive. If you love your work and those around you, and you keep your mind in a positive state, it will show in your work.
I don't build for acceptance or accolades, I build because my mind has finally started listening to my heart.
Monday, February 2, 2015
As much as I love how this came out, the beauty of it all comes from the hay trolley base.
The hay trolley base was made in a foundry some 80 years ago by the type of men that I aspire to be.
I mean THEY did all the hard work. I'm just some shithead from the future that built off what THEY created.
At some point during the build this piece stopped being a bench or a table, and became a piece of art.
Sometimes I make furniture and sometimes I make art, but the definition is always dictated by those who are looking at it.
I'm not a welder, but I weld, I'm definitely a carpenter, but not a cabinet maker, I write, but I'm not a writer,an artist...maybe, but that's a subjective title.
There's a secret beauty in this piece. That secret beauty is...this piece made me ask myself "what am I?" Unfortunately, I still don't know, but what I do know is that I don't require a title to define me.
I had someone ask me what type of wood the top is. The answer is...I don't know.
When I was bringing the piece to the shop, I walked past a chunk of wood covered in vines (yes VINES) and crusty mud. I sat the trolley on the work bench and grabbed that slab of wood. Before I even touched the hay trolley, I cleaned the wood.
After I had mocked up the whole piece, I had a week to think about if I was even going to use that nasty wood for a top. The way I see it is...that wood chose that base, I didn't choose it.
One of the things that I like to do with nasty old wood is channel out the rot. What that means is that I dig out the soft rotten wood and leave all these valleys. It creates these natural movements in wood as you can see in the edges on the photo.
Bring the flaws to the front....that is what separates my work from some Restoration Hardware store bought pieces.
Their stuff is perfect. Perfect has it's place. My stuff...a little more hardcore.
I mean, do you want your GUCCI from GUCCI, or maybe you're ok with a bootleg from Chinatown.
Some stuff looks "old and rustic", but my stuff IS "old and rustic".
I kinda hate to see this one go, but I really got a lot out of it in terms of perception and execution. It makes it a little easier to sell a piece that I really like when I'm able to take some knowledge and understanding from a piece.
CHING-CHING to those foundry workers, dead and gone, but you guys did some beautiful work, it was an honor to elaborate on what you created.