To tease inklings of past and future collaborations, we sat down with the Made By We team (virtually) to unwrap everything they’re working for and towards. We also discussed their latest art collaboration for our favourite Terra Pack Collection. The team's members; Hafiz, Vanessa, Mada, Kene and Natasha brought each of their representations to light in a way we know you’ll appreciate.
What is Made By We?
It's basically a space where we can create individually but together. The original thought process behind Made By We was the idea that everything is made by we, in terms of everything is created in the world globally. Nothing is made by one person, everything is made by a group of people. I, [Hafiz] hear a lot about Nike and people talking about Phil Knight, but a majority of [Knight’s] book is him talking about all the people that made it what it is. We put this great emphasis on individual excellence, but in reality, most individual excellence wouldn’t exist without some sort of collective approach. For me, nothing is an original thought. With MBW, we like focusing on celebrating collective creation, because nothing is made by me, everything is made by we.
How did Made By We come together?
We were all friends and we would hang out and just talk about what is culturally relevant and interesting to us. We would discuss our thoughts on what we’d seen being made, what we'd want to see, what we'd want to make. We were already doing it informally before. We’re all creative people, and we were sharing those creations with the group, so we were like, you know, maybe we can just have this “creative agency” umbrella that we can all do these like various interests under.
What does working on a project look like?
It’s just chaos. Because we all like each other and we're friends so that hangout line gets blurred a lot for us. It's really, you know, digging in. Everyone has a different work process. If we have an idea we throw it out and just say ‘hey guys, I thought of this does anyone have anything to add to it?’. Most of it is just like tweeting when we put ideas out in our group chat. We just throw it into the vacuum and hope to hear something. And then if we hear nothing, we’re like, ‘I'm gonna do this shit regardless’. But yeah, everyone works very differently, but it all ends up working out.
How do each of your art forms and inspirations come together to influence each other?
There was a show that we talk about all the time, called Terrace House. Due to recent tragedy, we can no longer stan the show, but there was a character that Vanessa, Natasha and I, [Mada] were all obsessed with. And something he shared on the show was this idea that even though it feels like we all have to work at one thing and be a master at one thing, he just wanted to do everything. And he's like ‘maybe I want to model, do this, do that’. He just didn’t look at a career as something you should master but something that should supplement your life and that you should enjoy. And I was thinking about how that's just kind of how I feel, I'm not super talented at one thing. So I ended up liking so many different things and they're all equally important to me. I think that's the way that our art influences other art. We like clothes, because we like art, because we like reading. So, again, it all meshes together like we all have. We all land on different parts of the spectrum of interest in various forms of art. Our experiences are all so different from each other, but we all share a common interest in cool shit.
What is Made By We working towards?
One of our common goals as Made By We is to fill the gap. When we think of it, Made By We's goal, it's just to make the cool shit that we're not seeing, that we think needs to get made. We definitely want to be more of a community thing too. Especially, all of us as Black folk, we really don't feel that there's a space for us in our own creative scene a lot of the time. Which is quite unfortunate for the city, but there are like really cool people here [in Vancouver] and there are really cool spaces. It can be cliquey here, it's hard to connect at times. Our collaborative goals are just to bring a bunch of cool people together. A big part of the goal is for us to be able to say something because we feel like a lot of people are just saying nothing. People are just seeing words, and we’re tired of this fog of words that often mean nothing. A lot of the time, we really want to see something, we really want to have any impact on people when you see stuff that we make.
Tell me about the Made By We x TAIKAN shoot.
The idea for the shoot was actually based on how they're a vessel, [something] to carry our personal items. In a way, that's a connection between your items as a creator. Thinking about the space between our items and things that matter to us was kind of the idea for the shoot. So we all picked a bunch of maybe personal, maybe-not-so personal [items].
Mada: I added a book that I really enjoyed this year, which was ‘Design as Art’, and it's by this Italian guy in the 70s. It was about when design was not really considered an art form. It was so focused on user experience where it wasn't seen as something creative. The guy talks about how it is and how you can go against design to create art. It's really interesting and shows us how far we've come. In terms of creativity, not being elitist, especially when it comes to fine art. I have a puzzle cuz I feel like I've always liked puzzles and that side of my brain. It's important to me and important to my childhood. I have some Chinese snacks, because it's again really nostalgic to flavors in my childhood that I don't necessarily have a lot of the time anymore. And I have a perfume that I really love called Jazz Club by Margiela, and it’s my favorite smell. I have my sketchbook because I don't journal or do things like that but I just sketch in my sketchbook and it feels like a journal to me. And a pipe because I love marijuana. It's a big part of me.
Natasha: I have a picture of my grandmother, the most important person in my life, and then I have melatonin in there because I'm an insomniac and I can never sleep, not that melatonin helps. And then I have a little bottle of hot sauce, which we got at Joe Fortes on Hafiz and Vanessa's birthday. I thought it was super cute. And then I have an ashtray because, you know, marijuana is a very big component of our group. I have an egg, we were trying to go for a camp thing. Trying to make the items a little ridiculous, so I have an egg in there just for the laughs of it. And then I have a crystal, not that I'm a big crystal person but I just thought it was cute. Then I have shot glass, because who doesn't like to drink.
Hafiz: I put Haribos there cause I love Haribos and they’ve consistently been in my life since like year 7. Unfortunately, my dentist was like ‘you need to stop eating candy’. So, I'm trying to cut down. I put my phone and laptop cause they are the containers of my life, I ramble a lot and my notes app is a stream of consciousness/reminder/journal place where I put everything, so I don’t forget important shit and ideas. I think they keep me sane. If for some reason my devices got wiped and I lost all my data, I would cry every night for three weeks. I also put an issue of the Economist, I used to read them as a kid cause my dad had a subscription and the graphics always looked super cool and would draw me in. I also put ‘Things Fall Apart’, I read the book when I was much younger, I think in grade 8, and I enjoyed it but I didn't get it. I was like ‘Why did this guy win a Nobel Prize?’. This year I started rereading books that I read when I was younger to kind of update my memories of them so I reread this and I really get it now, what a great book. Also, I’m begging you to read more books, we’re all too stupid to not read more. ‘The Last of Us 2’ is the best game to release this year, and perhaps the best storyline in a game I've ever played and if you think otherwise, I promise you are wrong. I also played this game with Vanessa so it's important to me. I put grapes because I like fruits. I added suya pepper because I love suya. Oh, lip balm and mints. We should all have lip balm and mints handy.
Vanessa: I also included a book that I enjoyed this year. Probably the book I enjoyed reading the most this year, ‘The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennett. It deals with race, racism, colourism, identity, love, empathy, secrets. Really great read. I have my three passports, Venezuelan passport, which is where I was born, my Canadian passport and my Nigerian passport. I have my phone, because I love my phone. I have my Telfar earrings, because I love these earrings. I haven’t even worn them yet, but they just bring me immense joy. I have some sunglasses that were a great steal, I love a good price. And some Purell because, you know, COVID's no joke. I have my keys on my cool keychain. I realized that for like the past three years I've pretty much been working two to three part time jobs at a time so I always have all these keys to open these various locations. And they’re all totally different spaces, like from a doggy daycare to a youth co-working space. And then I have my lighter because, like the rest of these guys said, we do be smoking.
Kene: I have a magazine that was the Vice Magazine that I’ve had had for two years. The main reason I brought it was because it's a photo magazine so the styles are an inspiration for both photography and my art style. I was like might as well put a little bit of representation. Besides that everything that I have is just weed stuff. I have my grinder, my red grinder. I'll tell you a story about the red grinder, it's a blood grinder. Oh shit, I didn't say it like that. But you know it’s my red grinder so I call it my blood grinder. Then I have a jar of weed. Why that jar of weed meant a lot to me was because it was a lot of weed. The representation of the size kind of shows how I feel. I wanted it to be falling out of the can so that everyone can know I always keep it on me. Also note that people understand that energy. For me I take weed when I’m going to see my friends, people that I care about. So it represented community [to me]. Papers. Zig Zag Papers. The best papers. You might think the Zig Zag papers don’t have a story but they do. They represent equality and peace. I just put things that were very important to me. I wanted to put Hot Wheels but like I couldn't find any. So yeah, I am done.
- Waffles (Mada)
- Chicken & Waffles (Kene)
- Strawberry & Cream Crepes* (Vanessa)
- Oatmeal with sugar and fruit (Natasha)
- Tapioca with fruits and an omelet (Hafiz)