• JP Taxman

Why I love building and designing

I’m quite concerned, I might be addicted to frustration. Well, I suppose it’s not actually the frustration I’m addicted to, it's the solution that cures the frustration, but it’s like Pavlov’s dog, ring the bell and the dog salivates. There are times when you get so frustrated with a problem while making something that you want to throw it at the wall, then burn it with kerosene in a bonfire, and to top it off by dumping the ashes in a porta-potty at a Grateful Dead concert. However, once you calm down and think through the problem, then come up with a viable solution that works, you become filled with a euphoria only gods typically get to experience. Thus, addiction.


Designing and building are what I love to do. I’ll watch youtube videos for hours of people simply making stuff. It could be as simple as how to make a floating shelf or a giant door lock, but my favourites are jigs and organizers for shops. New, better ways to store and access things really rev’s my engine. 


It all started when I was a kid. I would make my own worlds to fight bad guys or save the princess from evil. I would construct forts that would stay up for weeks at a time. What great parents I had, allowing me to explore and put up with the ordered mess of forts protecting me from wizards and enemy infantry. I remember one year we got a new fridge which came in the mecca of boxes! It was huge, and I got to turn it into a headquarters. I put my tv and game cube in there wich would function as the control unit and connected the refrigerator box to my bunk bed where I hung blankets over the railings to add extra rooms. I remember having nerf wars with friends and plenty of fun with that build for a few months. I had a pretty phenomenal childhood.  


Designing first had the possibility of becoming a passion early on in my life around the age of 12 when a friend downloaded photoshop onto my computer. I would play around with it on my laptop during long drives to Denver, I wasn’t any good at the time, but doing that taught me how to teach myself how to use pro-level software. I was also lucky enough to go to a middle school where graphic design was taught as an elective. I thoroughly enjoyed that class, as well as jewellery, photography, and architecture (only a high school elective). It’s funny that those were electives, they should have been my whole highschool curriculum, I would have probably been a straight ‘A’ student. These classes always felt like a relief from the day, an escape from the drudgy and pressure of normal school. Yet, it wasn’t, and I despised going to school every day. 


However, eventually, I grew up and in high school forgot about my love for building and making. I got into track and athletics, as well as partying and women. I wandered aimlessly thinking athletics was what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t until I left college that I realized building and making was where my passions lie. 


Soon after college, I started designing websites, logos, and building apps. I loved the nature of design and the process of creating something beautiful yet functional. I’ve also always been an enormous fan of technology and learning more about it, like coding or what makes a piece of software intuitive and easy to use. User experience design became tremendously valuable to me in my life’s journey. However, developing software wasn’t all I wanted to do, even though I'll always have to do it no matter what business I choose to build. I discovered through intense souls searching it’s not what I wanted to focus on. 

Yet, it still took me about 5-6 years after college before I rediscovered my love for making physical things. It started mainly with little frustrations around my apartment. I’d get fed up and either 1) not want to pay for the ready-made solution, or 2) there was no ready-made solution available for my particular frustration. So, as is my nature, I took random materials lying around my apartment and fabricated my own solutions. For instance, my cats would (and still do) scratch my couch.


So I thought maybe, just maybe, if I gave them an area on the couch to scratch on they would stop scratching the actual couch. Thus, I made a custom fit scratcher for the arm of the couch. I had some 1’’ plywood laying around which I think I got cut down at Home Depot again because I didn’t have saw at the time. I then acquired some carpet squares for maybe a dollar apiece at Habitat for Humanity and boom, a new couch cat scratcher was born. They use it, I still have it on my couch, but They also still love scratching the rest of the couch, so I suppose it was a half solution! 


I then got a gig helping a friend build his escape room/immersive role-play experience/d&d game. Working on this remarkable and amazing project gave me a bunch of new skill sets in a rapid amount of time. Such as learning how to use power tools, how to use a laser cutter at a production level, and how to spray paint stuff correctly, just to name a few. That’s when my feathers really started to show, I started to realize how much I love to build. Making puzzles and working with some of the smartest most amazing people was so miraculous, something I definitely needed in my life at the time, it was nice to work closely with a team. Check out Hunters Of Avalon if you get a chance, it’s well worth it.




There’s just something about getting lost in the work. You start with an idea and then map it out, prototype it, see if it worked, then make adjustments until it does. I found that I could work 8-12 hours non-stop without thinking about it, which was unique for me. It’s where I find my “state of flow.” I also love learning about the properties of materials, such as what each one is and isn’t good for or what kind of adhesives connect which materials. The best, however, is learning a new tool that can improve my workflow tenfold. Each new tool you learn how to use gives you new access to making, it’s like levelling up in a video game. Another part of my pull towards making is that I’m also really attracted to more generalist types of activities. Entrepreneurship, making, design, architecture, MMA ect... 


Anyhow, eventually I decided to start uprelief with the custom product development portion. Now to be clear, I “started” up relief with what I now call ‘Phase 2.’ Which I’m not going to get into now, but uprelief’s grand vision happens to be a way to ambitions three-phase plan. Nonetheless, I’m glad I started where I did, I love to design and build, and have already had the opportunity to make some neat products for tremendous clients. I can’t wait to see what else I get the opportunity to create for new clients in the future. Making is definitely what I’ll be doing until I die.



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