It’s easy to grab the trendy new thing online or at a big-box store without thinking about where it came from or who made it.
Thomas Sawyer wants to change that. The photographer and videographer shines a light on small businesses and the process of how things get made with Artisans. Sawyer’s YouTube series uses music, black-and-white, extreme close-ups and other documentary-style film techniques to offer a gritty look at local makers at work.
“I liked the idea of portraying the fact that the people make art,” Sawyer says. “But also how them making it [is] art itself.”
The videos serve as a sort of live action flipbook showing an entire day’s work in two or three minutes. While he’s made episodes featuring handbag maker Blair Ritchey and woodworker Freddy Hill, Sawyer hasn’t constrained himself to crafters of a certain sort. A video of tattoo artist Jake Romero is set to frenetic music while another showing Mason’s Creamery co-owner Jesse Mason making ice cream is an unexpected delight.
“I wanted conventional and unconventional,” Sawyer says, noting that ice cream is not normally considered art. “But the way [Mason] makes it — he is so hands-on, and there is so much skill to it.”
Sawyer looks for two things when deciding who to film: Does that maker, crafter or creator have an interesting process, and are they part of Cleveland’s small business scene?
“I love the small business camaraderie that Cleveland has,” Sawyer says. “There are so many people doing great things here, so I want to be able to put them on a platform and show more people what’s happening.”
More info: sirthomas.co