Wednesday, September 16, 2009
You may be wondering, "What is this website? How did I get here? What's going on?" I Made You A Beard is an art project started in 2008 by me, Erin Dollar. I started this blog to document the beard-making process, and to highlight other great facial hair related art and craft. So why am I making fake beards? It's my most frequently asked question: why, why, why??
My favorite way to respond to this question is, "Why not?" If you had an opportunity to make something creative and fun for a living, would you take it? My fake beard project was something that snowballed in popularity faster than I had ever thought possible. It offered me a chance to work on art and craft projects full time, and I decided to enjoy that opportunity and learn everything I could from it.
You may have noticed, though, that I avoid answering the question of, "Why beards?" This part of the question is a little more multi-faceted for me. The beard project has resonated with a lot of people, for many different reasons.
I began making fake beards because it seemed like a funny idea, and I had a bunch of felt and yarn leftover from other projects. My friends thought they were really fun and silly, so I began making custom beards to match their hair and personalities. When more and more people started asking me to make them a beard, I decided to put the project online, and offer my beard making services to the world. Thus, I Made You A Beard was born.
I got a lot of positive feedback right from the outset, which was amazing, a real boost of confidence that I am incredibly grateful for. At the same time, I also got a small amount of particularly mean hate mail, which in a strange way, also propelled me forward with the project. I figured if it was evoking such strong reactions, I must be doing something right. Some people read a feminist or political statement into the project, which I can't say was necessarily something I was thinking about when I made my first few beards, but was certainly on my mind as I continued the project. I think there is something interesting about being a female beard maker, tapping into this strictly male domain of growing facial hair, and making this act of showmanship available to anyone. At the same time, I am celebrating beards, and creating technicolor facial hair that draws attention to this oft overlooked stylistic choice.
While there are certainly a lot of different conclusions you can take away from this project, I think the reason I have continued to make the beards is that so many people just enjoy the act of dressing up in the beards. When someone tries on a fake beard, their expression changes, and people around them start to smile and laugh. Through the I Made You A Beard project, I hope to encourage people to not take themselves too seriously; to try on the disguise, and to enjoy the slightly subversive act of having fun with facial hair.
Labels: an explanation