When I think of “Get Hands Dirty” I tend to have visions of crisp clean lines and smart modern design. As you browse around Cristiana Felgueiras’ youtube channel, you’ll see why. She has a complex mix of simplicity and aesthetic concern in her builds that is always pleasing to witness.
At a Glance
Year joined: 2015
Types of projects: Wood primarily
Total channel views: 33,758,359
Does own editing: Yes, as well as music
Cameras: started with a 720p cell phone. Currently using a Panasonic GH5
Based out of the Portuguese city of Porto, her videos are often centered around not only building for relatively tight spaces, but also often building inside them. This concept permeates many of her builds and you’ll find an efficiency of space there that is overwhelmingly pleasing.
We contacted Cristiana and asked her about the history of the channel, and the history of her as a maker.
What came first, making stuff or putting out videos?
I’ve been making since I was a kid. Always made my own gifts for people I love – family and friends – and expressing in a three dimensional way is something very characteristic. I went to regular school and my hobbies included building stuff out of plaster, clay and corrugated cardboard. I joined Arts class in high school and started to be creative in many other materials and got into drawing more seriously. I then graduated in Sculpture in the Fine Arts Faculty of University of Porto, expanding my artistic skills and vision as well as exploring my multissensorial sensitivity. Space and time became the most important matters and to solve my inner problems, ended up using several materials, medias and processes. Ideas were always first and it was my job to find the materials and overall look of the piece in order to share the messages, sensations or feelings the best way I could.
During this cycle of studies, I joined some classes that didn’t belong to Sculpture curriculum, like Introduction to Video, Audio Making, Animation and such. My Works gained shape mixing all kinds of stuff, combining materials in the same works such as fabric, plaster, video projection, live performance playing musical instruments, wood and sound.
I love to learn and dig into different areas of work, which turns me into a multi-faceted artist and the passion for making is not just about woodworking or other materialistic techniques. It was on my last Faculty year that I found 2 or 3 woodworking channels on Youtube and started to absorb more and more content. I got obsessed. I wanted to try these tools, make those jigs, experience the feeling of cutting, smelling, touching that baltic birch plywood panel. I learned learned learned. Two years after graduating and some art exhibitions and performances, I decided to create my own channel after noticing I was always talking in English (Portuguese is my primary language) while working alone on my studio. And so the Get Hands Dirty was born.
How did you get started making videos of your builds?
I didn’t have much money and only had a few tools from being a Sculpture student. All I had I invested on a few more tools and accessories to start making more functional objects. Going from fine arts to design went as a natural path at the time as my priorities changed. Having a good environment around me became a priority, so finding out solutions for physical problems became my menu every day.
Sharing is also something that always came natural to me, so it made total sense to be able to share experiences and allow people to learn from them as I am learning too. It also started to promote activity and problematics in my daily life. The reason I make is because I can’t stand having that many ideas and visual thoughts occupying space in my mind. So I have to put them out, make them happen. Once they are finished, the energy goes immediately into some other idea and the process restarts. I need to get rid of these things (sometimes headaches) and so I have to make them.
The reason I make is because I can’t stand having that many ideas and visual thoughts occupying space in my mind.
Sometimes it feels like a curse but thankfully I have found my way on dealing with endless self-challenges and it promotes self-knowledge which I think is the ultimate purpose of being alive. So making videos of the builds is like storing all the moments that lead into the physical objects final state, and being able to share it all is very gratifying. The video becomes the final object and it is way bigger than the physical object itself, which no one can see in real or touch. The idea of the object and what happened to bring it to life is what matters. Turning it into a good experience is crucial and that’s why I also spend days working on the videos and tweaking them with care and effort as they are the real work exhibited on YouTube’s gallery.
Do you feel that being Portugese or having an audible accent has any effect on you being accepted within the community?
Never thought of that in depth but I don’t think so. I am aware that many people watch my videos from non-English speaking countries and they tell me in the comments that don’t understand English but still come over to watch every time
How much do you plan your videos? Do you storyboard or just start filming?
I don’t storyboard and I don’t plan much regarding the video filming and editing. It’s all made on the go. I love to improvise and I just deal with the moment. Occasionally while I am recording, a specific idea for a moment comes to mind and do my best to reproduce that in the final editing/narration. It could be a silly joke, a sound effect, a musical interlude, specific editing move or something similar. One or two times I had the “moment idea” even before recording (or even make the video as a whole response to that idea (for example “How to Apply Wax // 1st April Fools’) when those are not building related. The builds, on the other hand, I make and remake on my head from start to finish multiple times before. And that’s because of that loop that I have the need to stop it by making it in the real world.
Do you find that the pressure of posting frequently affects your choice of projects to do?
Not much, 90% of the time I post exactly what I want and need for my personal spaces/mind. Just occasionally I do make projects that weren’t that interesting or needed at the time in order to film and have one more piece of content. And more and more I am trying to discard the feeling of pressure for frequency of posting as it doesn’t do any good to me and my health.
Where do you get ideas for things to make videos of?
Part of this answer is somewhere up in here but I’ll try to give you something more. So, most of the things I make come as needs. Right before Loft Bed // Work Space episode 1 was born (and that’s really what that episode intro is all about), I came into the conclusion that I have been doing things the opposite way. I have been working without having a proper organized and equipped space, I have been living without having any kind of physical foundation. Everything was temporary, everything was just floating around, not inviting for myself to be around. And so the big challenge begun: turning the space into something better which would make me better too on the long run. A ton of ideas are still coming from that premise.
How much do you think potential views affect your decision on what project to do?
Not much as I tend to have specific projects on my list and at least for now, I don’t plan to remake a sofa bed just because that one worked for the audience. At least for now, if I don’t need it physically or mentally or wasn’t commissioned, I don’t see myself doing it. I love to go after my own challenges and what feels motivating. I need to enjoy the process to being able to produce valuable content for others.
…what’s most important is the run, the process, the dirt that you’re able to eat and turn into value and what you achieve with the journey. Don’t make it just because it is cool. Don’t make it because it is on fad, because it seems easy or because you think you’ll be rich in your bank account. Make it because you want to be rich in your heart and you love the process.
What is the big “ooooooh aaaaaah” shot for your videos? The one that you know crowds wait for? (like a resin pour for example)
Hummm I’m not sure really, maybe the Porto city shots at the beginning. A lot of people comment about how they are always curious to see what comes up each time. And maybe the more ASMR moments too – when I play with the hand tools in a gentle and satisfactory way.
Negativity is a common thing on youtube. Do you have any advice for dealing with negativity?
What drives people to be mean is their own lack of confidence. I just find it unfortunate when somebody leaves a bad non-constructive or hateful comment on my videos. They think they know better and don’t realize what the subject of criticism actually is. Or don’t understand who they are nor question themselves. I’m not there to answer them all with compassion but I know it is the right way of doing it.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start making videos about making stuff?
My advice would be to find your way of doing it, whatever it is that you’re looking after. It is normal to have influences and accept that they become part of you. You might need to try going other people’s ways in order to find your way, for those who don’t yet know much about themselves. But what’s most important is the run, the process, the dirt that you’re able to eat and turn into value and what you achieve with the journey. Don’t make it just because it is cool. Don’t make it because it is on fad, because it seems easy or because you think you’ll be rich in your bank account. Make it because you want to be rich in your heart and you love the process. Don’t over-fancy the final target. I remember when I was a kid starting to learn music and playing piano – I always started fine and then rushed towards the end which lead me into losing focus and destroying the song for everybody even if it was still mid-way though. Paying attention to the Now and enjoying the process is what builds great things.