YouTube’s Close-Knit Community of Makers

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YouTube’s Close-Knit Community of Makers

I spend a lot of time watching how-to and other maker-related videos on YouTube, in search of best-in-show for covering here. One thing I’ve noticed in the last year or two is the growing closeness and collaborative efforts of many top YouTube video makers. Watch Jimmy DiResta, Tim Sway, April Wilkerson, Giaco Whatever, Laura Kampf, Nick Ferry, and many others in the maker category for any length of time and you’re likely to hear mentions of the others, see the stickers, hats, T-shirts, and other swag that they’ve exchanged between them, and see them on each other’s shows. Collaborative projects for charity are common, too, like this chess set put together by Sean Rubino and contributed to by five makers.

In this video, YouTube maker phenom April Wilkerson gets a mallet from fellow ‘Tuber Ty Moser as a “shop buddy” gift. On her way to World Maker Faire to meet up with some of her other shop besties, she decides to make them all gorgeous shop mallets to present as gifts.

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Exchanging objects that they’ve made, especially shop essentials, like mallets, seems to be a growing custom. We’ve covered DiResta’s ice pick and Greg Porter’s twisted Sharpie. Those have become coveted “shop buddy” gifts.

Some coveted DiResta and Greg's Garage swag from my own collection.
Some coveted DiResta and Greg’s Garage swag from my own collection.

And, being makers, the recipients are often not content to leave the gifted objects alone. They frequently create a derivative designs or add an accessory. After Giaco Whatever received his April Wilkerson mallet, he made a little holder for it in his shop. And then there are the rude things that were done to the Jimmy DiResta action figure.


A Maker Faire is many things. One of those is a place for well-known YouTubers to meet each other for the first time, to see each other again, and to meet their devoted viewers. At this year’s World Maker Faire, on Saturday, we ran a panel, “Makers on YouTube,” with Jimmy DiResta, April Wilkerson, Laura Kampf, Giaco Whatever, and Dave Waelder. It drew a huge crowd and with the photo-taking, autograph-signing (no, really), and seeing the T-shirts, hats, and other swag from these YouTubers that people were wearing, you really got a sense of how enthusiastic their fans are. The thing I find most heartening, though, is not how bug-eyed people are over them, but how open, enthused, and humble these makers are in navigating all of this attention and adoration. covered the day’s activities. You can see their panel discussion here (it starts at 05:40:50).

Most of these folks also made vlogs documenting their trips to the fair and hanging out with each other. Here’s Jimmy’s:

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Laura Kampf came all the way from Cologne, Germany. Here is her trip travelogue. In it, she covers the flight to NYC, visiting Jimmy’s class at the School of Visual Arts, her and a number of the YouTube makers at World Maker Faire, flea market shopping with the group, and their trip to Jimmy’s farm in upstate NY.

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This community of YouTubers also has each other’s backs. When Giaco Whatever got flamed on YouTube for making a USB hub out of concrete, fellow makers launched a concrete USB Hub Challenge in response. In the end, 18 concrete USB hub projects were submitted in an impressive show of solidarity. Look for a follow-up post on this challenge after a winner has been declared.

Concrete USB Hub by Dan the Maker Man.
Concrete USB Hub by Dan the Maker Man.

communityMake: first contacted Jimmy DiResta to talk about doing videos for us after spotting his “I Make” license plate on his Discovery show, Dirty Money. That plate has become somewhat iconic, so it’s no surprise that other makers in other states are claiming the “I Make” vanity plate. Jimmy showed off this picture on his Instagram feed of his New York plate and plates from Sean Farbolin (@makeronthemove) and Nick Ryan (@njrworkshop). A bunch of other states are now taken, too. There’s even a hashtag, #imakecarclub, if you get one for your state.

In so many other businesses, in media and entertainment, in other walks of life, you might expect a lot of swelling egos in a growing area like this, and video makers who want to protect their turf, hoard their discoveries in the shop, and be suspicious and catty of the “competition.” One of the many wonderful things that characterizes the maker movement is a spirit of education, info sharing, and open source technologies. This community ethos seems to have carried over well into the world of YouTube maker shows. As this space continues to expand, these makers go full-pro, with the pressures of sponsorships, book deals, offers from mainstream media, and the like, hopefully this spirit of community, collaboration, and friendship will remain intact.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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