Living with today’s technology, it’s almost hard to fathom that for most of the history of mankind, we built everything ourselves. Tools were forged by fire and empires were laid one carved stone at a time. Most people were skilled in multiple trade professions and a community relied on one another to provide the services and skills necessary for daily life.
Now, in the age of 3-D printers, smart machines, and online shopping we rarely know how the goods we consume are created or what they are made with. We have become complacent with the idea of auto-manufacturing and, as a result, the discounted price that comes along with it. This can be a very hard climate for a company such as Upcycle Hawaiʻi, emphasizing our unique, artistic and handmade quality while competing with larger mass-produced markets and their subsequent low prices.
As a lifelong creative and innovator, I know the capabilities of human hands and what amazing things can be made as a result of elbow grease and experimentation. Unfortunately, a lot of people in the world have not been given the opportunity to find what their natural skill or craft is, let alone actually create something on their own. When you have never made anything it’s harder to imagine that someone else has. On a dozen occasions, I have been looked straight in the eye with pure amazement and been asked: “You seriously made that?” And, although it feels great to be recognized for my work, I always reply by telling the person that we used to make everything with our hands and there is a hidden talent within each of us.
When I look around our world of smartphones, I feel as though we are in a battle with touch screens to put human hands back into creative uses. By infusing our lives with these interactive devices, we have unintentionally taken millions of human hands away from productivity and kept them simply distracted. What I see are infinite missed opportunities to bring value and innovation into our world through art, creation and music. These are also missed opportunities to bring value back into each individual’s daily life.
I have already had the good fortune to help another person create their own art and there is such a feeling of joy that comes from seeing someone look at their work and say “I made that” proudly. There is research that shows that the act of creating something increases mood and self-esteem while lowering stress levels. There is also research that shows simply being in the presence of creativity and art can have similar positive benefits. In other words, using our hands and brains to create art in any form can help improve our lives and the lives of the people around us. It can also give us perspective about our material world and the time and effort required to create quality goods of any kind.
I urge you to take a closer look at the items and materials in your life – from the concrete that you walk on, the windows that you look through and even the paper that you write your grocery list on. Who were these things made by and whose hard work and fine-tuned craft and skill did it take to create such a thing? How many trials by error did it take to get to this finished product? I can tell you that my father was a concrete mason and so I see my dad in every concrete foundation. I always stop and wonder whose work of art I am appreciating every time I walk along a paved sidewalk. Can you find the same meaning in at least one everyday material in your life? I challenge you to find your craft and then hopefully you can see the hidden value in overlooked materials and find even more appreciation for those items that are still made with the touch of human hands.
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