i-D Magazine

i-d.co is best viewed using a newer browser

We recommend you choose one of the following for the best experience possible. Click to download:

I don't mind. Take me to i-D.co anyway

how to make it in new york

Alicia Keys was on the right track: New York is a concrete jungle where lots of things, not just dreams, are made. NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial, an exhibition spotlighting the diverse creative communities from the Bronx to Breezy Point, opens today at the Museum of Art and Design. NYC Makers pulls together 100 inventive and imaginative artisans, designers, and artists all living and working in the Big Apple, exploring their creative processes. Nominated by a pool of over 300 New York City-based cultural leaders and civic figures, the selected participants are the best of the best. Here are i-D’s five favourite NYC Makers.

Related topics

Text Emily Manning

Connect to i-D's world! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram

  • Rafael de Cárdenas, Architecture at Large

    What do you make and how do you make it?
    I try to make my childhood daydreams out of aluminum foil, gaffer tape, smoke and mirrors.

    What’s the most unconventional material you’ve worked with? Or, what’s something surprising you’ve produced with a common material?
    Gaffer tape is the cornerstone of my practice, it finds its way into almost everything. Fake boxwood hedge is a new simple pleasure. Actually, fake versions of almost anything I like.

    What was the first thing you made that you remember being really proud of?
    I made clothes for my Princess Leia figurine out of aluminum foil, it was a one shoulder toga dress with a matching turban.

    Does New York inform or inspire your work?
    Yes, but not necessarily in a self-aware way.

    If you could go back in time and help produce anything, what would it be?
    Reality TV. It could be better than it is.

    Photo: Courtesy of Rafael de Cárdenas / Architecture at Large

    De Cardenas

  • CONFETTISYSTEM

    What do you make and how do you make it?
    We transform simple materials such as tissue paper, cardboard, and silk into interactive objects that create a point of focus. The idea of celebration is central to our work, our goal is to create memories and spark a spontaneous collaboration with the viewer.

    What’s the most unconventional material you’ve worked with? Or, what’s something surprising you’ve produced with a common material?
    Our geometric metallic pinatas were the first objects we produced using very simple materials. We hope our handmade celebratory objects can influence a few moments in a person's life. It's sort of an offering, putting our energy into transforming materials to create an object that will be destroyed. It seems a bit reckless, but that's what makes it fun!

    What was the first thing you made that you remember being really proud of?
    The New York Times Style Magazine commissioned us to create their ‘T’ a few years back. That was very exciting for us!  We have always admired the artists and designers that have created ‘T’s for their publication.

    Does New York inform or inspire your work?
    Yes! In a very literal sense we have been commissioned to create parts of the New York City Skyline. Our favorite aspects of the city are its surrealism and pleasant incongruity, it's so much fun to witness how much can happen in a single city block. The city itself is a constantly shifting collage of installations, always inspiring.

    If you could go back in time and help produce anything, what would it be?
    If we could go back in time we’d love to create the atmosphere and set pieces for the original Studio 54!

    View of CONFETTISYSTEM's New York Studio, 2012

    ConfettiSystem

  • Marilyn Minter

    What do you make and how do you make it?
    I make photorealistic paintings, painterly photographs and videos, honing in on the moment where clarity becomes abstraction and beauty meets the grotesque.

    What’s the most unconventional material you’ve worked with? Or, what’s something surprising you’ve produced with a common material?
    In my photography shoots, I use aloe vera, glycerine, cake decorating powder, and rubbing alcohol to mimic ephemeral moments and atmospheric phenomena.

    What was the first thing you made that you remember being really proud of?
    I made pretty good fake IDs when I was a teenager!

    Does New York inform or inspire your work?
    I make art from the times and places I live in.

    If you could go back in time and help produce anything, what would it be?
    I don't know about the past, I think it's more important to focus on the future, we're regressing on issues I fought for in the 70s. I sure would like to get these right wing Republicans out of women's health services right now. And equal pay/ equal rights for everyone. 

    Marilyn Minter, Blue Streak, 2012. C-print. 57 × 86 inches (145.00 × 218.00 cm). Courtesy of Salon 94, New York

    Makers 3

  • Eckhaus Latta

    What do you make and how do you make it?
    We, Mike and Zoe, have the fashion line Eckhaus Latta. We make clothes and other objects in many different ways.

    What’s the most unconventional material you’ve worked with? Or, what’s something surprising you’ve produced with a common material?
    Clear leather from the subdermal layer of the cow.

    Does New York inform or inspire your work?
    Not consciously, but of course there's something in the water from the community and energy that has fed into our work. Eckhaus Latta couldn't have happened if it hadn't begun in NY.

    If you could go back in time and help produce anything, what would it be?
    Aside from all the nasty chemicals, it might have been fun to be part of inventing synthetic dyes and pigments, expanding the color spectrum. Honestly though, we'd rather go forward than back. 

    Family: Eckhaus Latta AW13, Fall 2013. Video, 2:30 mins. Director: Alexa Karolinski, director. Photo: Caleb Heller

    Eckhaus

  • Fredericks & Mae

    What do you make and how do you make it?
    We make a series of objects for the home, garden and sky. They are made by hands and machines, with great care.

    What’s the most unconventional material you’ve worked with? Or, what’s something surprising you’ve produced with a common material?
    Our work is mostly driven by interactions with unusual materials - synthetic hair, tinsel, hyacinth macaw feathers have been some pretty exciting finds.

    What was the first thing you made that you remember being really proud of?
    For Gabe, a stuffed pig with a feather boa mohawk. For Jolie, a bow and arrow.

    Does New York inform or inspire your work?
    We started our collaboration in Ohio, where we were making really large installation sculptures, and when we moved to New York our work got really small.  We started working in our living room and so the scale of things shrunk to fit our new environment.

    If you could go back in time and help produce anything, what would it be?
    The wheel? Fire? Numbers? Aeronautics! 

    Arrows, 2014. Wood, feathers, thread, and gold/ silver. Photo: Fredericks & Mae

    Mae