Victorian homages to my YouTube inspirations

I recently purchased a font bundle from Heritage Type Co. and began designing some new images for DIVA and for myself just for fun. Needing more inspiration on where to apply this newly learned design process I went to the most recent batch of inspirations in my life: YouTube.

In the autumn of 2016 I was recuperating from an unexpected surgery. The recovery lasted much longer than expected. Instead of the few weeks I was told it could last, it stretched into 3 months. I had a lot of time on my hands and my mind. As a creative type, with very little to do except lie in bed for the first stretch of this time, my mind was beginning to wither away at a much faster rate than whatever atrophy could possibly begin to erode whatever amount of physical attributes my middle aged body could have ever laid claim to in the first place. I needed something(s) to occupy mind. I found those things on YouTube. I have found/assembled a broad group of creators and thinkers that are still scratching my itch of curiosity and creativity today.  This blog entry will attempt to draw a path from one creator to another and hopefully, draw some sort of conclusion by the time this ends.

Adam Savage’s Tested – Mr. Savage had been in my life from the time Mythbusters debuted. Anything science related will always interest me and Adam’s special effects background in the world of film were things that spoke to me. Adam, as I have learned over the last few years, shares a lot of the attributes I find worthy in my friends. The more he shares of himself through his videos and social media posts, the more I like him. I was came across a video on his YT channel in which Frank Ippolito of Tested and Thingergy, was showing Norm Chan how to make a silicone mold of a lightsaber. Having no knowledge of mold making or working with silicone, I was blown away. And the rabbit hole that YouTube is, that video led me to another and so on and so on, eventually leading me to Evil Ted.

Evil Ted – Ted Smith(also with a special effects background in film) was showing Norm Chan(Tested co-founder) how to make a helmet out of foam floormat material. WHAT?! Just basic foam floormat material that is used in exercise rooms/gyms and for reducing fatigue for people standing in place for long periods of time? Yes…that floormat material. Ted draws up a pattern on the foam, cuts it out, shapes it, glues it up, and BAM! The dude was wearing a helmet made out of floormats. I couldn’t conceive of something so outlandish. I actually made a couple of those helmets myself. What a rewarding experience that was. I owe Ted a debt of gratitude for getting my hands back into the act of creation. Somewhere in there, I found a video of Ted working with Bill Doran.

Punished Props Academy – Bill Doran comes across as one of the sweetest humans I think I could ever hope to meet. What a genuinely nice person Bill must be to know and call your friend. Punished Props is run by Bill and his wife Brittany. PP has grown from modest beginnings to quite the polished operation. Publishing books along the way, sharing and teaching their prop making abilities with all of us would be cosplayers and fans. The level of detail Bill brings to each and every build, with knowledge he has earned from one project to the next is nothing short of motion picture/private collection worthy. Somehow, though I cannot recall exactly and it may have just been because he popped up in the suggested videos, Bill led me to Peter Brown.

Shop Time – Peter Brown’s interests, creativity, and overall style as a YouTuber is a wonderful blend of charm and I’m-going-to-do-this-just-because-I-think-it-sounds-fun. His projects may contain one or more of the following: wood, Jolly Ranchers, crayons, epoxy, bacon, steel, gummy bears, paint shavings, Jawbreakers, strobe lights, dandelions, tissue paper, artichokes, dead mosquitoes, coffee beans, cotton balls, bread, Legos, mustard, Kool-Aid, his left foot and/or candy sprinkles. Peter has a good soul and he makes me laugh. And always be on the lookout for those rare times when Mr. Brown graces his audience with his silky smooth baritone vocals. Maybe one day we can get Peter to create something themed around Don Quixote…but perhaps that’s just an impossible dream. Peter’s woodworking/lathe work eventually wound me to find Bob Clagett.

I Like to Make Stuff – Bob Clagett is my kind of guy. He’s kind and careful with his words, he’s super creative, and he likes toys from the 80’s. Bob is one of the good guys. Bob’s channel has grown to include a whole team at ILTMS. Mainly a woodworking/DIY channel but it’s always fun to see what Bob has in store for you. It could be making a ravioli rolling pin, a life size Star Wars action figure, or even a guitar out of an old rusty shovel. When you discover someone new on YT you never know at what point in their channel’s lifespan it will be. With Bob, I found him and his channel at the point where he had recently quit his “real” job and began making YouTube his full time hustle. How scary that must’ve been. At this point woodworking began to creep into so many of my interests and goals. I didn’t know it at the time but Bob had/has a podcast(Making It) with a couple of other content creators: David Piciutto and Jimmy DiResta.

Make Something – David Picciuto has a lot experience from which to draw when it comes to his content: music, photography and a great innate sense of creativity. A woodworking channel that will throw in some out-of-left-field stuff pretty routinely. Picture frames? Sure. A workbench? Of course. Rehousing an 8 bit Nintendo Entertainment System with wood? Hell yeah! Go-Karts??? David: stand in the place where you live, bro. 😉 A midwest dude who’s with quick a joke or to re-saw some oak, David has to be a blast to hang out with. Who still by the way, has an open invitation to join us at a performance of the Department of Improv…just saying.

Jimmy DiResta – Jimmy lived a past life as a unicorn, I think. Of all the people on this list, Jimmy is the one who would have the best stories to tell. Such a varied life journey that one way or another, DiResta always seems to be the most creative guy in the room in any room in which he could stand. Seeing engineering and artistry come together is something unique. Using his powers for good, instilling creativity in those around him and those who seek him out, Jimmy comes across as the guy who when you call him at 2 in the morning(he’s probably working in his shop at that time anyway) and you say, “I have a problem…” he would respond with, “How can I help?” Jimmy DiResta is a wonderful combination of adult wisdom and youthful creativity and playfulness. It may have been Jimmy’s engineering prowess that led me to Frank Howarth.

Frank Howarth – Frank is a soft spoken builder/designer/artist of all things wood. A humble soul whose capacity for successfully executing some of the most complex builds and processes I’ve seen on YouTube is perhaps only bested by his ability to laugh gently at himself as he narrates what he calls a mistake while a lot of us are still trying to figure out how to keep from burning toast. I like Frank a lot. Frank is operating on a different level than most. To use the word “hobby” to describe his woodworking would be a massive understatement. His video editing and animations are nothing short of professional. Still in the woodworking world, I found Steve Ramsey.

Woodworking for Mere Mortals – Steve Ramsey was cut from the same dry and sardonic cloth that me and so many of my friends were. Steve is just a pleasure to watch. A sweet man who demonstrates, at least to me, he understands how big and wonderful this world can be and his place in it. His practical approach to his builds and his outreach to show how much less scary the woodworking world can be for novices gives us a window into the man he is outside of his shop.

The Wood Whisperer – Mark Spagnuolo is the guy I wish I was friends with. His woodworking projects are so professionally immaculate, it’s obvious this isn’t just some guy with a table saw and an iPhone. When was I hooked on his channel and I knew he was a good dude? When I saw the “Re-Elect Mayor Goldie Wilson” poster on his wall – that’s when. An even keeled man who seems to have a good handle on life. Mark’s temperament is something to which a lot of us should aspire.

Mark Rober – I probably found this channel from a crossover with Bob at I Like to Make Stuff. Mark is the kind of guy that would be easy to hate if he wasn’t so charming. He’s good looking, he’s crazy smart, and at times gets to hang out with Jimmy Kimmel. So he’s got that going for him….which is nice. Mr. Rober has set himself on a path of using his knowledge to better the world and bring us closer together. Whether it be from showing us a scale model of the Solar System or filling a swimming pool with Jello, Mark is part of the solution on this crazy ride of life.

Smarter Every Day – Destin Sandlin is a hoot. You want to watch someone really show you how in love they are with learning? Watch any of Destin’s videos. I don’t know if I could explain this man any simpler or detailed than that. Destin loves to learn. There was a video of his that caused me to break up with him for a while. It contained some content to which I(at the time) thought was a deal breaker for me. Over time, I realized that was the wrong approach. His choice in that instance was not something that defines him. His choice was/is just a part of him. In this moment I realized I was judging him on a 1% level. On the whole, I asked myself: what’s in his heart? Goodness. This was a transformative moment for me. It showed me how I can accept someone who doesn’t share everything in common with me, which of course that’s not even possible. This moment helped me to understand better to embrace differences with people in my world. Are there deal breakers to be had? Of course…but not with Destin.

Veritasium – I found Derek Muller in a crossover with Smarter Every Day. Does water really drain both clockwise and/or counter-clockwise depending on which hemisphere of the Earth you are standing? Derek and Destin proved it – ON THE INTERNET!!!! – so it must be true. There are a lot of cold hard scientific facts Derek brings us in all of his videos but it’s his humility that stands out to me. Of his place in the world, of his education…so much about Derek is about showing you how grateful he is for the life of science he gets to live and share with us. A globe trotting man of science who seems to be equally setting out to bring kindness and love to the world.


From the beginning of my post-surgery bedridden recovery days four years ago to just the other day when I watched David Picciuto show me how to quickly rust metal, YouTube has become a part of my life. On those occasional days when I’m feeling low, these YouTubers are sometimes the thing I need to right my step and clear my head. These people have shown me a lot of things I didn’t even know existed and taught me a lot about myself and the person I want to be and become:

  • the value of having a broad approach to life.
  • our quirkiness is something people will love about us not cause them to run away.
  • the importance of sharing knowledge.
  • to not keep my creativity to myself.
  • the world still has caring people in it no matter how much of a nightmare you might be living or experiencing if even for a short period of time.
  • be kind…and that will take care of most things in life.

So to all of you, I say thank you. For giving me some direction and a renewed sense of hope.

 



Andy has interests varying from painting and singing, to photography and prop making.  Pretty much anything that has a creative element.  Amateur status in all endeavors, he finds art everywhere he looks.  Always seeking his next inspiration.


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