Will Holman is a Baltimore booster, nonprofit leader, forward thinker and relatively new dad (he and his wife, Amanda, have an 18-month-old daughter). We asked him about building a community of creatives in a city known for its artful spirit.
Q: Tell us about Open Works.
A: We work a lot like a YMCA, but instead of gym equipment we have a full woodshop, metal shop, digital fabrication tools, 3D printers, sewing machines and a computer lab. You can access all of these tools as a member or take a class in how to use them. We also have programs for kids, teens, seniors and support systems for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Q: How did you get into this line of work?
A: I got into this field in a circuitous way. Makerspaces are a pretty new phenomenon, so there’s no prescribed path for folks to work at one. I studied architecture in college and worked as a carpenter, furniture maker, educator, artist assistant, author and designer all over the country before coming back to Baltimore six years ago to start working on this project. I also wrote a book called “Guerilla Furniture Design” that presents more than 30 DIY furniture projects that I created over those nomadic years as a maker.
Q: Makerspaces are really having a moment. Why do you think that is?
A: Makerspaces have been around in a widespread way for about 20 years now. Lots of models have been tried, some have succeeded and some have failed. Where there’s been success, especially in Baltimore, it’s about building a community of makers. Whether at the Station North Tool Library or the Baltimore Jewelry Center or the Digital Harbor Foundation or Open Works, you see people coming together around shared interests and growing together as they learn new skills, build businesses and deepen relationships with one another. Making can be such a lonely pursuit, hidden away in your studio somewhere, that I think people are thirsty for community, collaboration and colleagues.
Q: After work, you obviously don’t head to a makerspace to create something. So what do you do?
A: I do most of our family cooking. It’s great to come home from a long day and spend some time making a good meal for my family and then enjoying it together. I am also (slowly) renovating the basement in our 100-year-old rowhome to make a playroom for our daughter, Annie, so it’s nice to stay engaged working with my hands on that project.
Q: Favorite Baltimore tradition?
A: Crabs, obviously. I love Artscape, though I’ve had to work our table for Open Works the last few years, which can be a little rough in the heat. It’s also been great to see so many good breweries coming back to Baltimore in recent years. We love going to Peabody Heights on Friday nights. We’ll meet up with all of our neighbors who have young kids, and over a brew, watch our kids toddle around.