Why I like making physical things

I really enjoy making things. A meal, a picture, a joke — whatever. What I really love is when the thing you make becomes something physical, something you can point to and say ‘I did that’. It feels good. It’s even better when it’s something you’re proud of. But even the things that disappoint you have value, as stepping stones or pointers towards something better.

Every thing you make gives you more information, and by just being in the world it generates feedback you can use. Ideas that stay in notebooks or in your head don’t.

The other great thing about making tangible things is the joy of handling materials, shaping wood, seeing ink drip, feeling a pencil draw across a coarse sheet of paper. These are the kind of sensations that the film Amélie tapped into, and ones that few films about artists get right, but it’s there in spades in footage of Picasso painting and drawing.

I guess a lot of work I admire has this kind of sensibility — the collages of Ivan Chermayeff and Mattisse, Marion Deuchars’s illustrations and handwriting, the posters of Alan Fletcher, the Sunday sketches of Christoph Niemann, the ink drawings of Carissa Potter. They all exhibit a real sense of enjoyment in their materials — and an incredible lightness of touch in the way they handle them.

Kids have this too. It’s a great joy to see kids draw and make when they’re still at an age where self-consciousness hasn’t yet taken hold. It’s this playful, instinctive way of making that I think we can recapture as adults and it’s capable of doing us enormous good.

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