There are small boxes with little music notes and aeroplanes painted on them tucked away in my wardrobe somewhere. Picture frames sit on the ground by my door and a new, yet to be used, jewellery stand, that was gifted to me months ago, collects dust on my dresser. I could go on listing all the projects in my life that have gone unfinished, with this very article being almost one of them.
When my mother questions these random objects, I tell her not to worry, I have big plans for them all. I explain saying “the small boxes are going to be like 3D paintings. I’ve painted the inside of the boxes and at some point, I’m going to hot glue these little figurines inside as well.” She doesn’t look very amused, so I move on to the next unfinished project.
“And the frames, they’re just so plain. I’m going to paint vines around them, bring them to life a little,” I continue. Still there was no amusement.
“As for the jewellery stand, I want to reorganise all of my jewellery and maybe I’ll paint the stand,” I say. I decided to stop there and listen instead to the forthcoming lecture. I don’t blame her, I often give myself the same lecture.
I’m not sure exactly what drives my need to paint everything I own but I do know I am easily excited and restless. This means that no matter how much I like my current project, if I stumble upon something even cooler I will make a dangerous U-turn. I also know this sickness is getting worse. The more I think about it, the more it starts to make sense. Aren’t we all constantly bombarded with the creative creations of all kinds of people from all over the world?
Personally, I know my own obsession with DIY skyrocketed with my discovery of Pinterest. Whether you, like me, scroll through Pinterest habitually or believe it to be an outlet for bored middle-aged women, you’ve got to admit it sparked a DIY madness of some sorts. If you’ve ever sat through an art class in the last few years, you would have been encouraged to create your mood boards on Pinterest.
Although Pinterest remains the DIY king amongst social media apps, other platforms have tried to catch on. The majority of my Instagram feed has gradually become a series of short clips on how to transform broken teacups into wall art, or use bubble wrap to create texture in your next painting. I’m sure that the biggest reason for why this has happened is because I’m an art nerd and the algorithm gods are exploiting my obsessions grossly.
However, there is clearly a growing number of artists and DIY fanatics using social media to showcase their work and skills. For a person like me, who is artistic but also impulsive and easily distracted, this DIY movement on social media has been both a blessing and a curse. More recently it has been almost entirely a curse. I’m sure most of us that started university right after college, experienced the dramatic difference in lifestyle. Two years ago (during my youthful days), the likelihood that I would finish something like a vinyl painting, or a wall collage was far greater. Now, I am a drained uni student working two jobs and trying to figure out how on earth people “network.” It is needless to say that at a time like this, Instagram’s insistence on showing me projects I like, is just a cruel and vicious joke. It also fills me with a unique sense of guilt that I no longer have the time to be the same weird art kid I once was.
It also means that every now and then I will decide life is too short, and I simply cannot spend it glued to my laptop, so I get out all my crafts and decide to commit to a DIY project. Not surprisingly, my commitment is short lived. This revelation usually coincides with seeing an online creator not only make the coolest piece of artwork, but they also do it with complete ease and comfort, or so it seems. The short clips I see on Instagram or any other platform are only a small window into the process. Even if it is a DIY walkthrough, as it’s only a few seconds or minutes long, you only see a fraction of the process. This might seem obvious but I think there is a part of our brains, most likely somewhere in our subconscious, that slowly starts to believe these projects are doable in the miniscule amount of free time we get.
In a way, this is no different to any other subliminal trick that social media plays on us. This is not to say that you should avoid getting inspiration from artists on social media. Just remember that your capabilities and capacities are not the same as everyone else, and be sure not to find yourself being catfished by seemingly “easy”and “quick” DIY projects.