An Interview with Jennifer Causey
Words by Julie Pointer Photographs by Alice Gao
Jen Causey, creator of the Makers Project, talks about its inception and the intense pull she feels toward the artisans and crafters she meets.
What inspired you to begin the Makers Project and how long has it been going on? Was it a natural transition to turn the project into a book?
I started the project almost two years ago. It began out of curiosity. I have always been drawn to people who make things with their hands and I loved the idea of getting a closer look through documenting them. It was also a way for me to grow a bit as a photographer and to explore things I was not currently doing in my professional life. My primary focus at the time was more objects-based, shooting food and still-life, mostly in a studio. The project has allowed me to mix things up and photograph more people—real people—with objects, in their natural environments. This has bled over into my professional life and I am now shooting more lifestyle work, which I love!
When I was approached by my editor to turn the project into a book, it was something I’d thought about before, but not seriously. I’m really happy that the photos will have a permanent, tangible home together in a book.
Where do you think your fascination with making and makers stems from? Have you come from a long line of hands-on doers and makers?
Growing up, my mom was always baking, gardening and crafting, and my dad was always building something. Creativity and making were always encouraged, but never thought of as a career path. I think this is why I became so interested in this rise of people making things for a living that was happening around me in Brooklyn.
A maker’s workshop can be a very personal space. Can you think of any favorite or intriguing details that you’ve learned about someone just by being invited into their workplace?
By visiting these studios and workshops, I have seen the hard work and dedication that goes into hand-making things. It is exhilarating to listen to makers talk passionately about what they are doing. One of my favorite things about the visits is looking around the studios, searching for unique trinkets and hidden treasures. When I was photographing the Saipua flower studio, the first shoot of this project, I remember seeing a jar of everyday rubber bands sitting on a shelf next to two tiny vases. It was a perfect little work of art living on the shelf. I love when an object is both beautiful and useful. This has since become one of my favorite photos from the shoot.
What is the most rewarding part of the Makers Project for you?
I love seeing the growth in the makers I have photographed. It is amazing to see them get more public recognition and to see their work get better and better. Another reward is wearing something from makers I have photographed, or enjoying foods or drinks made by them. I get a sense of pride when I get compliments on my Odette necklace or my Fay Andrada bracelet. I love recommending Makers’ products to people, as I know firsthand what went into making it.
Has there been a favorite feature you’ve done out of all the people you’ve interviewed? Or a favorite space to photograph?
I have loved photographing each and every maker! They have all been so generous in letting me into their worlds. That being said, I really loved photographing Erin Considine’s jewelry studio. I love the way she mixes metal and textiles, hand dyeing all her fibers using natural dyes. She is doing such original work with such history and integrity behind it. And her studio gets amazing light!