Artist, Simon Beck does a lot of walking in the snow to create stunning, intricate pattern illustrations (see below). Another artist named Andres Amador does something quite similar using a rake to create his temporary patterns on beach sand.


This past Spring, I was extremely honored to be interviewed by The Great Discontent -  a journal of interviews with creators of different disciplines and also, one of my favorite projects on the web. A very heart-felt thank you goes out to Tina and Ryan Essmaker for inviting me to take part.

Nadav Kurtz’s short film Paraiso documents the hard work of Mexican immigrants (two brothers and their cousin) who day-in, day-out take huge risks hanging high above the Chicago skyline to clean the windows of the city. They do this with their families in mind. They do this for security and survival. Like many immigrants, they do the work that others don’t want to do.

I discovered Ezra Caldwell when researching local bike makers (in search of a bike for myself). His bikes stood out — they were simple and elegant, but each had a unique personality, and it was clear they were designed to work not merely look good. I was instantly attracted to them. I noticed he had a blog, and I clicked hoping to learn more about him.

But instead of the mechanics of bike making, I discovered something else: Teaching Cancer to Cry stood at the top of the page. Ezra’s tale spanned remission, treatment, diagnosis. Hours went by as I read his posts, working backwards in time. Ezra is gifted at many things, writing among them, and I couldn’t stop reading.

I worked up the nerve to email him and try to persuade him to allow me to make The Bike Maker. To my pleasant surprise, he was interested and invited me to come up to his home in Harlem for coffee. (Ezra makes really fucking good coffee.) We chatted for several hours about everything from politics to the state of manufacturing in the US. Five months later, I was back in his home with a crew. Ezra was a good sport; I’d like to think he was as curious about what we were doing as I was in him. He was generous, brave, and graceful.

So I have a confession: the Made by Hand series is not really about making stuff. Well, at least for me, it isn’t. I started Made by Hand because I wanted to tell personal stories, stories that would give me more perspective about my own work as a filmmaker, and a human. I think Ezra’s story does just that.

A warm thank you goes to Ezra and Hillary.

Photographer Chris Arnade has spent several years documenting the people who live in New York City’s poorest neighborhood and not surprisingly where the best quality of heroin is to be found, Hunt’s Point. His deep commitment to revealing certain truths about the relationship between addiction, abuse and poverty is clear in a large body of work, as we can see his intimate rapport with the subjects. He simply sees them as “human beings,” people in a bad place and in need of help that probably isn’t coming. While most of America spends their Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays with their loved ones, Arnade huddles up in the cold, under highway overpasses with those whose lives are most destitute - 16 year old prostitutes, heroin and crack addicts, those that society would rather not recognize. Accompanying the photos of the flickr page for his Faces of Addiction series, are text entries that provide a greater understanding on the background of each image’s subject. This is some of the best photo-journalism that I’ve seen in a long time. More words and pictures from the series can be found on an accompanying blog. This one particularly poignant entry struck me hard. It gives insight into the creation of a prison class of people, and the design of a process made intentionally difficult to communicate with them.