Name Mark Greenbaum
Where are you located? Watertown, MA
What is your day job? Graphic Designer / Creative Director
Do you attend a makerspace/fablab/hackerspace? I recently found a place called Hatch makerspace in my home town and they helped me trouble shoot my Ender Pro 3D printer. They have a great little workshop and are super accessible and helpful.
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What kinds of stuff do you make? I have a wide variety of clients and the type of work that I produce for them includes; toy design, games, product design, packaging, animation, character design, logos and marketing materials. I’m the proud co-creator and designer of a toy line called ‘The Bogies’ for which we produced everything from glow in the dark PJ’s to computer games. I made a game with my legendary buddy Bob Camp of Ren n Stimpy fame called ‘Tanks of Fury’.
In my ‘spare time’ I love making stuff out of cardboard, playing around with LEDs and making stuff for public art exhibits. As a Dad of 2 boys, a lot of the stuff I make is for them. If I can whip up a quick cardboard race track and it keeps them busy for a couple hours – it‘s a win. When they get bored with it, I just recycle it! It’s also a great way to exercise my creativity by doing a small project. The cardboard TMNT playset I made is still being played with 3 years later…!
How did you get started making stuff? I grew up hanging out in my Mom’s studio while she designed signs and graphics for local stores, buses and restaurants – she also made all of our halloween costumes (Now that I have 2 kids of my own, I always make our costumes). After college I went to work for a small gift/collectibles company in the UK where I had to wear a lot of hats – I did photography, graphic design, marketing and even promoted our brand by dressing up as a giant Bogie. In hindsight, that experience was so valuable. To be able to work in every aspect of the process, from designing the concept, to unloading the boxes in the warehouse, to marketing the finished product. It gave me a ‘big picture’ mindset and inspired me to go freelance.
Wayne White was a big influence on my cardboard making. I challenge any makers to watch his documentary ‘Beauty is Embarrassing’ and resist making massive cardboard heads afterwards. He was the set designer for Pee Wee’s playhouse among other things and does some fantastic things with cardboard.
What is something that you’ve made that you’re really proud of? I recently made a really fun 3D boardgame with my super talented friend Jude Pullen, called ‘Goats Vs Llamas’. We found each other on LinkedIn during lockdown in 2020 and bonded as creatives and Dads. We designed the game for the Mojo Nation pitch event in which we presented it to big toy and game companies. We had some great feedback and had a few follow up meetings – but it wasn’t picked up. Despite being turned down we decided to push the concept a little further and released it as a free, open source game. We made it so you can actually print out the graphics on your home printer and build it using your left over cardboard boxes.
Boardgames are a great source of family time and with this game we’ve been able to involve our kids in the actual building of the game board as well as having them help us to customize the gameplay. Building it with my son was as rewarding as playing the game with him afterwards – he was really invested in the process (I think I have a future maker on my hands). It’s one of our missions to help parents do more creative, fun stuff with their kiddos. This game ticked so many boxes, it is affordable, uses sustainable materials, creates great family time and stays fresh with customizable gameplay. It was recognized by Instructables.com and won the grand prize – you can view, download and build it here –
What is next on your project list? I‘m juggling a few projects right now – I’m making a couple face filters, designing characters and products for an Esports company, doing branding for a CBD company and working up some new toy and game concepts to pitch. I think we’ve only just scratched the surface of DIY games that you can build at home using sustainable materials. 3D printers are becoming much more affordable and they really open up the possibilities for creating your own fun games and toys.
what is something you’d like to work with but you haven’t yet? My maker friend Jesse Salucci introduced me to customizable LEDs which has been a lot of fun and I’d like to mix them with mediums I haven’t used much like wood and metalwork. I’m really hungry to do some more public art pieces and play on a bigger scale. I just need a massive workshop and a bag of money!
Any advice for people reading this? Do a little bit of everything! Explore new areas and techniques to find out what you enjoy. I was told for years that ‘you should do one thing and do it well’. I’m not saying that’s bad advice – but for me, the variety of work really keeps me engaged and challenges me. Now I’m able to oversee bigger projects and understand enough about each element to steer it in the right direction. Also, if you’re doing something that isn’t challenging you – you’re not really learning. I try and work outside of my comfort zone as often as I can because this is where the real progress happens. Get comfortable with failing! It is the only way to improve. It helps to be humble and have an open mind in order to see new opportunities and ideas. One last nugget that will help you achieve more. Collaborate! It’s much easier to get things done when there is a deadline and someone else to answer too. Your combined ideas and skills can take a project so much further.
I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. You can find me on twitter at @calebkraft
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