September 04, 2020

Macey Dickerson: Maker Spotlight!

snake earrings laser cut wood

By Kris Hurst

Macey Dickerson has been coming to Ignite Studio since January of 2020. She frequently uses Ignite’s laser engraver to create designs for her Etsy shop and uses the AV studio to take photographs of her work. Macey was kind enough to answer some questions about her experience as a maker and what drew her to Ignite.

When did you first become interested in making things?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in making things! I think it is part of my blueprint. I know I showed some talent at a young age, but it was the meaning and value I found in the creative process that motivated me to work to develop actual skill as I got older.

Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?

Growing up, I was always enrolled in art classes through school as well as extracurricularly at places like the Indianapolis Art Center. I studied painting during my time at Franklin College. All my life I have had the privilege of taking classes formally and combined that with learning things through experimentation and using tutorial videos online.

What kinds of things do you currently make/favorite types of things to make?

Lately the mediums I have been using most are painting and jewelry. I create herb-infused jewelry using resin and laser-cut wood designs.

From where do you draw your inspiration?

Inspiration usually comes when and where I least expect it. I know that the beauty I take in is directly linked to the beauty that I put out. I try to take in as many beautiful experiences I can by going on walks, traveling, reading, even just sitting and contemplating nature. I don’t do it with the mission of, “I need to find inspiration,” but rather with the intention of wholeheartedly enjoying the experience of being alive. It seems to be in that state of gratitude when I am most open to noticing inspiring things.

How long has it taken you to feel confident in your making abilities?

moon earrings laser cut wood

I am not sure that I will ever feel completely confident in my making abilities. I think that’s okay, every new project is both humbling and empowering experience. There’s always a point during a project where the gap between what it is, and what I want it to be, feels insurmountable. At this point the internal dialogue can easily turn into a stream of self-doubt: “This is never going to work, this is terrible, why did I think I could pull this off, I can never show this to anyone, who do I think I am?” etc. As a younger artist, I thought this challenging part of the process and the emotional discomfort it triggered were an indication that I should give up and abandon that project. With more experience I know this low point can be expected. I now recognize the internal resistance as evidence that I am expanding my capabilities. Instead of letting my self-defeating thoughts spiral, I choose a different, more empowering narrative: “I’m learning, I’m figuring it out, I can try again.” Caving into the doubts just reinforces them—working through them lessens their power. This discomfort is part of the creative process, and the only way out is through. During my laser certification class at Ignite, Garen said, “FAIL= First Attempt In Learning.” This really stuck with me and I draw on it often! I’m still building confidence in my artistic skill, but I feel very confident in my willingness to work hard and problem solve.

When did you decide to turn “making” into a business?

I started my Etsy shop [Macey Dickerson Arts] when I was still in college. I would get assignments in my art classes and make them with the intention of putting them in my Etsy shop for extra money. I never had a grand scheme to build a business so it’s been amazing to participate in its unfolding!

What is the business side of art making like?

Since my art is my main source of income, my livelihood hinges on how many people like things I have created. Naturally in the past I succumbed to the temptation of making certain things, not because they excited me, but because I thought other people would like them. The irony is that people never connected with those designs. It makes perfect sense that what people connect to most is authentic, soulful expressions. Business does best when I get out of the way and let the art make itself through me.

Indiana necklace wood cut resin

What drew you to the Ignite Studio?

At the beginning of 2020 I set an intention that seemed unrealistic. I remember telling a friend, “This year I am going to have access to a large studio space with tools and equipment that will expand my capabilities. I want access to learn how to use a laser….and I want all of this to be free.” I remember my friend looking at me like I was crazy because it seemed like an impossible wish. The next day I was looking for information on how to get a library card, and I stumbled upon Ignite for the first time. I cried!

How has the Ignite Studio helped you further your goals in art and making?

Ignite has been a huge part in furthering my art! In the past, I would draw designs on my iPad and send them to a company in Texas who would laser cut them into wood. This process was expensive and very slow. Now, if I have an idea, I can go to Ignite and make it come to fruition that same day!

How easy or hard was it to learn the equipment you use in Ignite?

Learning the equipment and software is definitely challenging but very worth it. The certification course was amazing and the Ignite team members are so helpful.

Any advice for those interested in making things?

This is the advice I give myself: Work diligently to let your art and life be a pure expression of your most authentic self! It’s good to look at other people’s art to learn from their technique and perspective, but ultimately your own unique synthesis of ideas is your gift to the world. I believe, collectively, our passions and abilities all interlock and intertwine like a giant cosmic puzzle. The more deeply we each lean into our own unique gifts, talents, and curiosities, the better we are as a whole.

You can find Macey on Etsy at Macey Dickerson Arts.