Creativity has always been at the forefront of my life. Growing up I would draw cars for hours on end and embraced toys that had an element of design and building. From Legos to plastic scaled models, the only thing I did, besides play sports, was create, and the only computer I had access to was in my middle school days and onward.
I come from a background where my family focused on the craft of a tradesman. They came to this country with skills when, during the era of industrialism, the mason reigned. Growing up with my Poppop, he would spend hours showing me the use of tools and what one can create with one's hands. At that time, I made custom jewelry boxes out of scrap wood from behind his workshop. I remember the feeling when I was finished; there was just an intense sense of completion and self-expression after hours of shaping, painting, and decorating. I discovered also a primitive element; a sense that something was waiting to be exposed from a hidden chamber in our DNA hundreds of centuries ago when we needed to find our food, fashion weapons, and build our dwellings. We used our hands.
"Before I knew it, creativity done digitally just became the only form of creation."
Once I was in high school, I began using my Mac to play with the elements of design: learning the applications, what they can do, and how to get them to translate what I was thinking in my head. The feeling of creation was happening on a pixel by pixel level . There was tons of joy when I was creating a project, the visuals were to my perfectionist liking and the clients were ecstatic to see the results. Soon followed years of crafting campaigns, revamping brands completely, or simply giving start-ups the visual firepower they needed to make a splash. Sure I was creating, perfecting my craft and countlessly tackling more and more projects. Before I knew it, creativity done digitally just became the only form of creation. But while all of this was happening, I had purchased a house. Soon home ownership began to set the stage outside of work and I started to embrace do-it-yourself projects again.
I have an amazing reclaimed wood table in my kitchen that was in need of sanding and coating of polyurethane. This required a call to my Poppop to make sure I had all the tools needed to complete such a task correctly. Then it was off to Lowe's for multiple sandpaper grits, matte polyurethane, and a few tac clothes. Once again, that innate childhood feeling came over me and I time-warped to my past. The more I sanded, I noticed myself starting to drift away while staring at the wood. The grooves, the pores, the knots... it was if I was enlightened on what its like to be a true craftsman.
I was instantly obsessed going from 120 grit, to 180, 220, 320 and then applying layer after layer of poly, waiting for it to dry and sand. Dry. Sand. Repeat. As each morning came, I would slide my hand across the table feeling all contours and smiled as I suddenly realized the importance of creating in the physical realm. After the 5th coat of poly and the last ultra high-gloss sanding the table was complete, revealing a stunning coating on a table that looked like only an old-school craftsman could ever produce. Physically creating something by hand is just simply rewarding. Sure enough, I began proudly telling any house visitor, "Hey... touch my table!"
"As someone who had been working digitally for so long it was refreshing to have a creative process that was less immediate and more tactile. " - Cole Hanley
Tactile creation was something I realized I need to do more often; the feeling is just intoxicating and the results communicate time, sweat and energy. No, I am not going leave my gig as Creative Director at Hook & Loop, but I will be more cognizant of the joy of creating something physical with my own hands. So here's to more DIY at my house and a quick recap on why you should step away from your luscious high-resolution display, get off that ergonomic desk chair, and break out the Dewalt Saw.