Saturday, November 5, 2011

ReadyMade: DIY RIP

For those of you who know me well, you know that the day I discovered ReadyMade magazine was the day I turned into one of the people in the audience during a taping of Oprah's Favorite Things. An entire magazine written for people like me? Are you kidding? I couldn't believe my eyes. As I flipped through the issue, my mind began to reel at the thought of entire culture that enjoyed making things out of stuff as much as I did. Up until this point, I hadn't ever met anyone with a hobby such as mine. Most of my friends, being the good, midwestern boys that they are, were into hunting, fishing and sports. They enjoyed turning a coat hanger into a lampshade about as much as I enjoyed cheering on a homerun touchdown on a hockey court. A magazine like ReadyMade meant that there were enough people out there that thought the way I did to justify hiring writers, editors, designers, etc. to put a bi-monthly publication together. These were MY people!

Through the years I tackled a number of projects printed in the pages of ReadyMade. Always adding my own little twist, as I'm sure most ReadyMakers do. I also entered and won two MacGyver Challenges, a competition in which readers are given an object (such as old ties or pots and pans) and challenged to make something new out of them. A win meant a free year subscription and seeing your name and project featured in the magazine... guaranteed to be seen by an incredible design community.

This one time... at design camp... (yes, really, design camp) I got to not only meet, but sit and chat with a ReadyMade editor. She wasn't a celebrity by any means, but she could just as well have been Julia Roberts to me. She was part of something that had essentially changed my life. That sounds a bit dramatic, but ReadyMade made me look at something I had been doing without much thought my entire life as a special contribution to society. Making things out of stuff didn't have to be just a hobby, it could be a whole way of life.

Below is something that I find very interesting. It is part of the ReadyMade Mini-Manifesto and it says something really wonderful...

Furthermore I swear as a ReadyMade contributor to refrain from creating a "finished work," as a heigntened awareness of process is the whole point.

For me, it is never the finished product that is the reward. It is the experimenting, creative problem solving and uncharted path that is the reward. There is something so exciting about knowing that you might be the first person to consider making a chandelier out of cake pans or a lamp out of washing machine parts. Who cares what it looks like at the end. At least you got out of the box and gave it a shot. Now you can take what learned from this project and apply it to the next and the next and the next. Creativity doesn't just appear. It comes from the sum of life's experiences, both successes and failures.

Now that I have shown you all how much ReadyMade meant to me, you will understand why it upsets me so to learn that it will be no more. ReadyMade has succumbed to the continued pressure of print media trying to survive in a digital world. Although they did make a valiant effort! With their blogs and tweets, it almost seemed as if they would be able to survive without a printed version of the magazine, but apparently that is not the case.

Thank you ReadyMade for all you taught us and shared with us. I am very sad to see you go, but losing you has inspired me to do more with fishmods. You are leaving a very large hole in the DIY community and it will be up to the rest of us to fill it in with everyday objects. Hopefully, I will see you around again someday.


  1. Thank you for sharing! Keep doing what you're doing and I'm confident RM will appear in one form or another soon. Maybe not as RM but as perhaps something even more strong and even more of a contributor to society. Keep your eyes peeled. There are great things to come!

  2. Great to hear! Thanks for the comment Andrew!

  3. I <3 ReadyMade too! Sad to see it go, but maybe fishmods needs a publication of it's own someday...