When people think about YouTube, woodworking and hand crafted art probably don't come to mind. But the woodworking community is blossoming on YouTube, despite the fact that wood is considered an old form of art and online video is one of the newest. But how can something seemingly antiquated survive society's incessant need for things to be faster, easier, and swipeable?
Jon Peters is a professional artist and craftsman. He's also a YouTuber. Before taking to online video, Peters had been creating specialized handmade furniture and commissioned artwork for almost 20 years. Throughout his time designing and building, Peters saw a disconnect between the craft itself and the access to woodworking, "There's always been a lot of secrecy in the art world about how art is made and what happens in the 'inner circles' of artists and art collectors."
This untouchable circle of artists and collectors was creating a divide. The costs and difficulty associated with custom furniture and handcrafted art and the gap between high end designer pieces and the average household's furniture was pretty much the size of an Ikea. When PBS television shows like The New Yankee Workshop and This Old House really took off and DIY gurus like the powerhouse that was Martha Stewart came along in 2005, a new interest for at-home projects was sparked. But having access to the information that was required to build and create was still scarce and difficult to follow for mass audiences, especially with a 24-minute air time and no ability to pause or rewind, unless you had a collection of blank VHS tapes. Although there were books, manuals, and plenty of magazines, going to libraries and bookstores was becoming outdated for the younger generation.
Jon Peters and a few craftsmen like him saw this gap and took advantage of an opportunity, not only to help their fellow artists, but to find inspiration and connect with the community on a different level than the previous 'inner circles' provided. Peters saw how YouTube was becoming the destination for everything and created Jon Peters Art & Home. Think of his channel as a modern, less annoying iteration of Tool Time.
With his how-to videos, Peters is granting access to the world of custom building and hand-made art. YouTube is allowing the woodworking and art community to connect on inspiration, assistance, and education. Instead of having to read through manuals and guess what the abstract line illustrations are demonstrating, at-home artists are able to watch and rewatch at will. As Peters tells it, "If you're struggling with a project or just need inspiration, you can use YouTube as a guide and watch at your leisure. Plus, you can comment, ask questions and interact with you favorite YouTube creators and other viewers."
Jon Peters' channel is not just attracting creators who are already highly engaged in woodworking, "The goal is get viewers of all ages inspired to make things. Whether it's their first painting, making a simple frame, or an in-depth furniture project. It's great to see how many young people are tuning in to my videos and using them as a starting point."
Despite the uphill battle of today's generation's short attention span and Twitter/Instagam addictions, Jon believes that woodworking and furniture creation is far from a lost art. He has designed his YouTube channel to be approachable for anyone and any budget. Having a trained and experienced professional on hand to educate is changing the way people learn and explore art. As Jon tells it, "The comment section is an open forum and the engagement and transparency is unparalleled on YouTube".
The comment section and viewer interactions is also helping Jon to find new value in his work, "Comments are hugely important to me...the interactive nature of YouTube helps validate my work as a creator, and allows followers to share their thoughts and suggestions." Not only are the mentors able to be online cheerleaders to their internet based 'class', they are able to watch their students grow to be better at their craft.
Channels like Jon's have adapted to meet the needs of the present, and through this virtual evolution of woodworking, the craft is kept alive.
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