Inktober may be over, but the events focused on art and creativity continue. This upcoming weekend Barnes & Noble stores across the US will host simultaneously host their own “Mini Maker Faire.” When I saw the event, I had no idea what a Maker Faire was, but I’d been hearing the word “Maker” thrown around more and more frequently.
My local library opened a newly dubbed “Maker space,” a renovated section with glass doors that I would walk by slowly to get a better glimpse of what was inside.
There were “Maker Faire” events on Facebook and now at Barnes & Noble. It turns out I’m late to this phenomenon, dubbed the “Maker Movement.” This year will be Barnes & Noble’s third annual Maker Faire, and my first Google search revealed articles about the Maker Movement going back to 2013.
But if I’d never heard of this thing until recently, I figure there are others like me who don’t live in hip, always up-to-date places.
What is the Maker Movement?
The Maker Movement has been called anything from a DIY revolution to a revival of Home-EC to America’s salvation. That one certainly caught my eye. Was this just click bait or is there something about the Maker Movement I’m missing?
“Maker” is a creative movement. And a maker is defined simply as anyone who makes things. This definition includes everyone, which appears to be the point. Anyone can be a Maker. Anyone can join the movement.
Although I’m discussing the Maker in the context of visual arts, it’s far more expansive than what we might traditionally define as “creative” pursuits. The Maker Movement includes the arts, sure, but it also brings attention to projects within science, technology, and computer science. A glance through the Maker website reveals guides on 3D printing projects, drone recommendations, and articles on how to build your own furniture.
Maker Faires take place around the world. In the same weekend that Barnes & Noble will hold their event, there will be full-blown Maker Faires taking place in Germany, Argentina, and Thailand. It’s kind of a big deal.
The Maker Movement, along with Maker Faires and Maker spaces are about getting people to create and learn to become more self-sustaining. It encourages people to play, tinker, and actually use their hands to create something. It sounds like a nice movement, but for the most part, I’m still left confused.
What Can You Expect from a Maker Faire?
I’ve read articles, watched videos, and listened to people describe their experiences at Maker Faires. I could create a passable image for you by mashing the information from these articles, videos, and accounts together. But with a Maker Faire coming to town – even a mini one held in a retail chain – the best course of action seems to go attend one myself.
From what I’ve gleaned, the idea of a Maker Movement seems admirable. I’m all for encouraging people to be creative and make things. But I wonder how sustainable the idea is. The attempt to encompass every kind of “making” and include everyone also has me doubtful. While everyone can be a “maker,” the things made in Maker spaces seem skewed toward technology and robotics, which doesn’t sound particularly interesting to me. So off I go, a little skeptical, but sufficiently curious.