“I make; therefore, I am a maker.”
Like many makers, Bibi has a lot of creative irons in the fire. A professional graphic designer, artist, writer, and entrepreneur, she’s always been moved to work with her hands. Her artwork ranges from drawing to sewing and crafting to book-making—and more.
“I’ve always known my greatest desire was to make things,” says Bibi. “I only recently adopted the title of ‘maker.’ However, I embrace it, as it best describes this simple desire I’ve never lost.”
“Making is a natural state.”
Bibi’s earliest maker memory is from third grade, when her mother enrolled her and her sister in cheerleading. “My sister was thrilled,” she recalls. “I was not.” Bibi made a deal that allowed her to support the squad while remaining in her blue jeans and baseball cap on the bleachers: She would produce posters and banners for them instead.
Grade-school graphics eventually became the layouts and logos of a commercial art career. “Design was the one degree that fulfilled both my creative goals and my parents’ desire for promising career potential,” Bibi says. When the design field shifted from hand skills to computer skills, Bibi’s natural aptitude allowed her to keep pace, but she felt the loss of the “immense satisfaction of making things with my hands.”
“Sketches and concepts I would love to explore.”
Bibi has since followed her curiosity to many creative destinations, including authoring an award-winning book of poems, The Ella Zoo, as well as repurposing old furniture, creating costumes for her kids, and keeping up a family tradition of hand-stitched commemorative tablecloths. Her journal is also bursting with ideas she’d like to tackle, given tools, space, and access to technical expertise.
That’s where MIXXER comes in. MIXXER, says Bibi, could help her bring her concepts off the journal pages and into reality. Skills she definitely wants to learn? Woodworking and metalworking. “I have an idea that would be great in metal. Who knows where it might go—but I’d like to try,” she says. “I also sketched a boat-like sculptural piece over 20 years ago. I’d really like to give that one a go.”
More About Bibi
Where do you do your work?
An office and a spare room. But with four different makers in the family, everyone seems to prefer the dining room table, where we can make, listen to music, and still be surrounded by family.
What traits and skills serve you best as a maker?
My determination and attention to process and detail. Design school stressed the importance of “craft.” I’m thankful for such strong foundational training. A focus on craft has proved invaluable for all my work, whether handmade, written, coded, or machine-stitched.
Were there any obstacles to your becoming a maker? How did you overcome them?
I faced questions; moments of self-doubt; lack of tools, space, and materials; and more. My desire to make persists. If there’s anything that defines me as a maker, it’s that I always find my way back to a work table.
Do you have any habits that help you in your work?
I’ve had the professional opportunity to take ideas from concept to completion and even large-scale production. The confidence I gained from this is invaluable as I explore new skills and techniques. I may have little specific expertise, but I have ample interest, curiosity, and a solid design process. A space, a mentor, and tools are all I need to accomplish almost any project.
What’s the main thing being a maker has taught you?
My husband and I met in Chicago. Perhaps the most serious early gesture of true love was his offer to share his studio with him. That studio was, and remains, my ideal. My best creative self grew there. Ideas are still generating from the experience, which taught me how, with space and support, a maker can become immensely prolific in ways that impact her work well past the terms of any lease.
What’s the most frustrating thing about being a maker? How do you overcome that frustration?
Finding the time. Whenever I sit down to work, I’ll be at work for hours. I’m not someone who can work in short bursts. I fall into a deep, consuming focus. I have to schedule and protect a block of time to make things.
What’s next for you in your work as a maker?
I’m working on two projects. One is a book, and the other is a series of umbrellas.
If you had to start over again as a maker, what would you do differently?
I’d tell my younger self, “You’re an explorer. Explore, shape, craft, and refine your way through life, and you’ll make your ideal life.” I’d encourage my younger self to make whatever you want, wherever you can, with whatever you can, for the experience and joy of doing it.
Photos courtesy of Bibi Coyne