This is an edited version of a post I wrote for the Instructables forum after spending 2 months at their HQ.
Thursday saw the end of two of the most fun filled months of my life. Since the beginning of February I’ve been an artist in residence at Instructables’ office in San Francisco.
First impressions? The office was unlike any I’d ever visited or heard of. An open plan 2nd floor office above a deli and a night club on 2nd street, Instructables’ headquarters is home to a team of 25 young and enthusiastic staff. It’s not like your average software company either, no desk is the same and each is covered in or surrounded by a mix of complete and incomplete projects, or is in itself a project.
Those above mentioned staff are all friendly. The office has the same tight knit community feeling that I have felt part of as a non-staff member using the site.
As an artist in residence I was given no direction other than to be creative and pursue and finish projects that interested me. The environment was hugely beneficial as a maker. At home I feel that I have to explain why I want to make something. “But you can buy that!” I am often told. At Instructables I was surrounded by people who understand that making is a passion, that it’s important and ideas quickly develop and grow as enthusiastic friends chime in with over the top but all too often adopted suggestions to improve projects in progress or create new projects. There doesn’t need to be a reason to create something to amuse, educate or just show off.
While in residence I worked on a bubble machine, a giant chess set to play in Eric and Christy’s kitchen, an improved laser cut jenga pistol, a cupcake decorating stencil, several educational instructables as well as writing Perl to simplify several tedious admin tasks performed by the editors.
My most used tool was the laser cutter. If I had to choose a favourite new skill that I learned, I’d be hard pressed to choose between the skills I developed with a DSLR and lighting, and how to drive a forklift. The best piece of insider information I picked up…. I know who the next artist in residence will be!
Given a chance, I’ll definitely be back. I love the staff, I love the city and the nearby climbing is exceptional!