As the title says, 2015's finished, it's done, it's over and never coming back. This is a bit of a long ramble of a post. It's really early on New Years Eve and everyones sleeping, it's dark and I have nothing else to do.
It was a pretty good year for me/us. It feels weird saying 'us' it's as though I'm saying 'us' as in a company. There's not really an us, its just me and a good guy named Lewis who helps me at nights and weekends. Saying 'us' sounds like I walk the shop floor with a big fat cigar and gold chains like a darts player telling my workers to hurry up and get back to work, maybe even saying it like "get back ta woyk" in a New York/Brooklyn accent for dramatic effect.
When I say 'us' I really mean 'Me, Gemma and the boys'. Pretty much anything I'm doing work wise affects us. Theres no weekly or monthly wage hitting the bank account, theres no guarantee of work coming in and theres no massive trust fund that daddy left for us to live off while we work out life. What we've got is a workshop filled with all sorts of tools that I've collected over the past 10 plus years, some knowledge (always growing) on how to make stuff and the internet. With that we've been able to keep a family in a house with plenty food to eat and we have a pretty nice way of life.
The Whisky Barrel Longboards and Skateboards It's not all champagne and roses in this line of work though, times can be tight. The tight times aren't helped when I have the crazy idea to turn down well paying jobs to focus on making a skateboard from old whisky barrels. Yip, I took two/three months from my usual projects to perfect the whisky barrel longboards and cruiser boards. In those few months I took in about £1000 in total from smaller jobs that took a day here or a day there, I had some smaller things that I sold too if I remember but I didn't really make any money in those months.
Most of the money spent in those two months was to take meetings with people, I like people and I like meeting people but not all meetings were as I imagined. Most of them were with folks who thought they were onto something and thought they could maybe make some quick money from me and the boards. (I HAD A BIG BIT WROTE, EXAMPLES ETC BUT NO ONE WANTS TO READ THAT NEGATIVE STUFF SO WE'LL JUMP TO THE END) then it'd just fizzle out because all they want is free stuff to make them look cool, the hunt for likes is strong with these types folks.
These attitudes never work out though, the skateboards and longboards are a hard sell, they're expensive, there a wee niche type of product and it's Scotland man, it rains 85% of the time, cruising about on a longboard or skateboard isn't a big deal for people. We're not selling malteasers and beer so theres a bit of work to get them out into the world, they're selling now and people love them, I've done naked photo shoots so it's true, sex, must sell. A lot of my meetings were a waste of time and I'd have been as well staying in my bed eating boxes cadbury heroes. I did have some great meetings though and met some cool people, people that I'll work with for a long time I think, even if we don't work together we'll still keep in touch and talk about all sorts of shit,
I had limit of boards that I'd planned to give away for free and I passed it by about £200 maybe £300. It was kind of a plan I had and it worked to some extent, I think it worked pretty well in fact, it got some interest in other stuff I do too and it's brought me in some good projects for 2016. I managed to get over to LA with them too, California's always a good idea. It's funny because I've done some really nice work, expensive and architecturally proportioned rooms, really nice woodwork and not really much notice but you knock together a skateboard from old whisky barrels and you get to meet people in the movies as well as other cool people in popular culture. Funny world!
Selling Handmade Stuff And Surviving The way it is now with everyone being online and putting out offers and sales, furniture being mass produced and available really cheaply, trying to sell handmade stuff can be a bit of a tough gig. Not everyone wants something made from locally sourced timber or materials reclaimed from this building or that building. A lot of people want cheap and thats fine. It's a weird world though, people have no problems with spending £500 on a phone thats done and in the bin in 18 months but find it hard to bite the bullet and pay a few thousand for a dining table that they can keep in the family for years, and years and years and years to come. I don't get bitter though, I don't really care what people do with their money, I have people that come to me who know the value in something and like the story behind it, that's good enough for me. It's still a tough gig though and people who do this for a living know the struggle. What's the other option though - getting up and commuting to work, clocking in and watching the clock until you can leave then driving home unfulfilled with what you're doing. That might be extreme but for people who make stuff with their hands theres not really that many well paying jobs out there that allow them to still make stuff each day.
There's things I pick up on while either meeting successful people or working in their homes. Simple things like they're relaxed, they wear quality clothes, they have older cars, their furniture is expensive and well travelled and they have loads of books. The might not have loads of quality clothes but what they have costs a lot and lasts, they know that cheap clothes don't last and they'd be forever buying new cheap clothes. The cars are usually second hand with low mileage and get good fuel consumption, they might have bought it new and keep it until it dies. The furniture has been with them for a while, its moved from house to house or even country to country, it's heavy, it's real wood, it's solid. They read, they've read thousands of pages already, they love their book collection and it's always growing. There are some who buy a new car every year and spend a lot because cars are their thing and they can do it. I like to call this "baller status" and #respect to them. It's these simple things, these traits that bring me into their lives to make stuff for them and this is way up there with the best thing about doing this for a living. It makes you think, it lets you see how successful people live, I'm not just talking about successful in monetary terms, success is different for everyone but I like to mix a bit of my 'hocus pocus spiritual, universe is magical, we're all artists' sort of ideas with all these other observations to have the life that I hold as successful. I'm telling you what man - relaxed, calm people who live in big houses with second hand cars and loads of books can teach us all something.
I Joined A New Gang I met some good friends in 2015 too. Sonny my youngest son picked up my external hard drive and threw it about the house, it broke but I knew the guy to fix it. I had been to him in 2013 to fix a hard drive that Caleb broke, funnily enough by doing the same thing Sonny done. Anyway when I was in in 2013 I was heavily stressed and wasn't enjoying my work and blah blah blah so I went in dropped off the broken one and picked up the new fixed hard drive. Said "cool man, catch ye later". I got back in touch with him and he didn't remember me but I went in and we got talking, he eventually remembered me and remembered the work I had shown him in 2013. So he fixed the hard drive and it cost loads to fix, I didn't mind though because I needed the stuff and I usually get charged loads from anyone, I'm used to it. I think when I tell people what work I do they think I'm minted or maybe I look like I'm well off in a rustic/countryside living sort of way. This time when I picked up the hard drive I ended up in the shop for about 2 hours just talking nonsense, turns out the guy, Andy, is into some of the same stuff as I am, stuff like all that "woo hoo spiritual universe has a plan if you're positive" stuff. So we keep in touch a lot and come up with all sorts of plans on world domination. Through him I met loads of other new friends. Any video, pro photo and even how to airplay movies from the macbook to the TV came from the hard drive breaking and the people met through that tragic incident. They're all good guys and it's nice to know them. In 2016 we are planning on doing a podcast on the way we do what we do and still manage to make money without working for the MAN, we'll probably have all these guys on as guests at some point. I'll put up links here when it's all live for anyone who might be interested in listening to us ramble on about everything.
What's Happening In 2016 I've got some really nice projects already lined up for 2016, probably the first time in years that I've had work through the Christmas and New Year holidays, it's pretty nice.
I want to design and build some of my own furniture, I'll be able to spend a couple of months or so on that sort of stuff, mainly because I have some nice projects to do and once they're finished it will allow me some time to myself, I'm really really grateful and fortunate to be able to do that. It's amazing that it's an option for me so thanks to anyone who's ever bought anything or got me to work in their house.
Other thing's that I'll be doing in 2016 is more videos, I made my first video for the YouTube channel this year and ended up doing about 10 so far I think. I started to enjoy the actual making and editing of the video, the videos weren't groundbreaking cinema, mainly just of me making stuff, I speeded them up so they weren't an epic watch and the boys ended up in a few of them too, it's kinda nice that I'll have the videos of them in the workshop when they were young, if the world doesn't end I'll continue to do the videos as long as I'm making stuff, it's a nice record of the projects I'm making and the boys are growing in each one, also the dancing I do should eventually get picked up by Hollywood.
I have penciled in a few videos with Chief too, he made the last video and his stuff comes out great, my plan is to do a few films with him throughout the year and infill them with my crudely edited ones. I'm hoping it works out well, or at least the way I have it panned out in my brain. If you have some spare time you can check out the YouTube channel by clicking the button at the top right of this page, it should be next to the Facebook/Twitter and Instagram buttons. Subscribes, likes and shares are always welcome, they're good for the dopamine levels.
So thats that, enjoy it man, it's the only life we've got until we're blasted off into the universe to find out whats really going on here.
Over and out