I adore Bryan Schutmaat’s photography. His eye for documenting people and places in America reminds me of William Egglston’s great body of work and of course of Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places.

In 1974, Dominican immigrant Don Antonio Martinez started a small shop in New York City selling hand rolled cigars. Thirty-eight years later his son, Jesus, carries on the tradition. The shop combines craftsmanship with community, mixing equal parts work and play. It is the focus of the fourth installment in the Made by Hand series. Perhaps my favorite part of making this film is the way it expands the maker experience outward; it’s not just about the artifact, but about the people you make things with and for.

Last week, I released The Beekeper, the third film in the Made by Hand series. Local urban farmer Megan Paska has witnessed beekeeping as it morphed from an illegal (and possibly crazy) habit to a sustainable, community-supported skill. Mirroring beekeeping’s own ascendance, she found more than just a living: “This is the first time in my life when I’ve just felt absolutely on the right path.”

 

 

Earlier this week, I released The Knife Maker, the second film in the Made by Hand series. This time we pointed our camera at writer turned knife maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn. He talks about the human element of craft, and the potential for a skill to mature into an art. And in sharing his story, he alights on the real meaning of handmade — a movement whose riches are measured in people, not cash. I can’t express enough gratitude for the inspiration, candor and friendship I’ve received from Joel.

Thursday evening, we debuted our first film — on the Breuckelen Distilling Company — at Studiomates, the collaborative workspace in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Since so much of the inspiration behind Made by Hand has come from the creative community in Brooklyn, this was a special opportunity for us. We’re exceedingly grateful to the people of Studiomates — and the makers in Brooklyn and elsewhere who inspire us every day.

We’re pleased now to release our first film into the world; go and watch it now. Brad Estabrooke’s tale is one of knowing you could fail, and moving ahead anyway — perhaps the most important ethos of the handmade spirit. We’re thankful to Brad for also joining us last night and sharing his gin and company.

Our next film — on local knife maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn — is in production now. Joel talks about finding himself at the intersection of the handmade and food movements (“I hit the jackpot,” he says) and more.

And as we head into the Fall, we’re talking to more makers in Brooklyn and nearby as we seek out subjects for subsequent films. Our hope is that you find these portraits as inspiring as we do.

Best,
Keef

I just happened upon the work of Rennie Ellis, an Austrailian photographer whose work I had not previously been aware of. His unique brand of photo journalism spans from the 1960s until his death in 2003. Its probably best to use the following line from his site to describe his work.

Rennie Ellis was attracted to the unusual and eccentric, the bizarre and the erotic. His photographs can be confronting as a head-butt or infused with subtle and enigmatic nuances that pose more questions than they answer.