Who likes to do it? Some like to do it alone. Some like to do it in groups, but lately everyone is talking about doing it yourself. So much, in fact, that the Salem Art Association is holding a workshop and panel on Do It Yourself Culture with a panel. The focus: artist entrepreneurship.
Jessica Ramey was inspired after teaching a collage class at Clockworks Café and Cultural Center. She liked teaching so much that she decided to open her own studio and focus on creating and teaching. In true DIY form, Ramey turned one bay of her three-car garage into an artist-gone-teacher’s dream. “I just so enjoyed teaching that I decided to transform my garage into a studio,” she said.
The neighborhood studio is only five blocks from downtown and classes average $25 each. Taking art and a business into her own hands, Ramey is ready to teach a little of everything. Crafty items. Gardening. Jewelry. Participants don’t need to worry about a long list of supplies; she makes sure everything is ready to go when the students arrive. “A lot of my participants have never taken classes before. I just have everything ready and we do a lot of sharing. It really has a community space focus,” Ramey said.
“We have been open for about two months and so far the feedback has been great,” Ramey said. So far, most of her classes have been full. With small class sizes of about eight people, everyone gets to learn.
It’s not just adults who enjoy learning how to make holiday decorations and crafty items; Ramey offers birthday parties as well. “I am surprised by the different learning styles between adults and kids. Adults are more critical of their work. But both adults and kids get excited about their finished product,” she said.
She had to make a few changes when working with the youngest of her students. “I learned that with children, there are certain things, developmentally, that they can’t do. I tried to have one group make a mobile. It involved a lot of wire, and I overestimated their capability,” Ramey laughed.
Ramey believes that the economy has jump-started the “DIY” craze. “I think people are more willing to jump in and learn to grout their own bathroom. People live very stressful lives and it is nice to get out from behind a desk and make something. Buying something is fine, but the joy of ‘making,’ I feel, is coming back.”
Learning isn’t without failing. In fact, Ramey agrees that sometimes you just have to toss a project and start again, but either way, you are going to learn something.
It’s not only the economy, Ramey feels; it appears to be the joy of the process that keeps the DIY momentum going as well. “It is really rewarding. People put in a lot of heart into these projects, and when they do that, they start holding more value. Even earrings, once you start making decisions like why these beads, choosing which goes where, looking at balance, you hold them to a higher standard than if we just go out and buy something.”
DIY is also MIW (making it work) for Ramey. With a son in kindergarten, her studio is her art studio by day, and a classroom on the weekends. She has a successful Etsy store, and a creative eye that everyone wants to “learn.”
Ramey doesn’t get creative blocks. “I find my muse in different ways,” she said. “I listen to music, I read books, I am typically all go. I do so in many different mediums. So if I am burned out on one project, then I move on to something else. The more we can make art integrated into our lives, the more happy and integrated we feel.”
Luckily for Ramey, her husband was willing to give up a bay in the garage for an office space inside the house. He likes to write. “We did a total flip of man versus woman roles, and we think that’s great,” Ramey said. “There is so much I can share and I am glad that the studio has opened up that communication. I enjoy it, and I think I learn more than my students do,” she said.
Interested in DIY Entrepreneurship?
DIY Culture Panel Discussion
When: Saturday, Dec 4th at 7 p.m.
Where: Bush Barn Art Center, 600 Mission St. SE
Call: 503-581-2228 for more information.
For more information on Ramey’s DIY Studio, visit her site at diystudio.net.