John English and his creation, the Sound Puddle.EXPAND
John English and his creation, the Sound Puddle.
Courtesy of Colorado Maker Hub

100 Colorado Creatives 4.0: Elise VanDyne

#72: Elise VanDyne

Elise VanDyne, who gave up a successful corporate career to become executive director of the Colorado Maker Hub, is a true believer in all creative industries, from independent crafters to adventurers in robotics and under-the-radar techies and Burners blending science and art in humongous desert installations. Anyone drawing outside the lines with an eye on a better future is okay with VanDyne, whose Maker Faire Denver returns to town this weekend with an expanded reach and opportunities for attendees to get their hands dirty and their minds expanded. Keep reading as VanDyne shares her passion for supporting makers and creative thinkers by answering the 100CC questionnaire.

Elise VanDyne with Pokey, the fire-breathing dragon.
Elise VanDyne with Pokey, the fire-breathing dragon.
Courtesy of Colorado Maker Hub

Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse? 

Elise VanDyne: I get energized by movement and by community. So when I need a creative boost, I bike to our community makerspaces to interact with our wide range of inventors and tinkerers there.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why? 

Will Ruddick, creator of the Eco-Pesa community currency for Kenya; Sam Bloch, creator of Communitere, bringing mobile makerspaces into disaster or refugee relief zones; and Arieann DeFazio, inventor and founder of Kitables, who is growing the spirit of making. Each of these inventors is pushing the envelope in terms of taking creating and injecting it into solving pressing global problems. When I talk with them, it's like there is an explosion of color and ideas in my head.

What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?

I am frustrated when creatives silo themselves. When I brought the DAM FAST (Denver Art Museum Fiber Artists and Students of Textiles) women into the Denver Maker Faire last year, they looked around and said, "What are we doing here? This isn't a place for fiber artists; it's all tech and sci-fi!” By the end of the day, they came to me and took my hands and said with shining eyes, "Now we see why we are here! Everyone loved getting to know about creating with our peg looms. This is just filled with people who love to create using any medium." We don't need to limit ourselves by labels of how we create. That's what I love about makerspaces —that they bring together people to work in all types of creative endeavors, from woodworking to tech-tinkering, and all share it together.

Robot Resurrection lighting up the night.
Robot Resurrection lighting up the night.
Courtesy of Colorado Maker Hub

Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?

I have never followed trends and wouldn't even know what trends are out there!

You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?

Sailing around the world on the 55-foot catamaran being invented/designed by my husband.

What’s your day job?

I founded a nonprofit growing the maker ecosystem across Colorado. So in addition to putting on Maker Faire Denver, I am working across the state to help bring opportunities for creators. What does that look like? Helping artists find places to create, helping creators bring their ideas to market, working to get workforce training certification, supporting the growth and sustainability of makerspaces, bringing hands-on learning and creativity into schools.

Meet R2D2 at Maker Faire Denver 2017.
Meet R2D2 at Maker Faire Denver 2017.
Courtesy of Colorado Maker Hub

Colorado, love it or leave it? What keeps you here—or makes you want to leave?

Colorado is an incredibly vibrant state that supports the creative industries. Our startup weeks; our creative industries organization, COIN; the universities and community colleges. I feel incredibly fortunate to live in a state that has so many organizations collaborating to support our creatives.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I am really inspired by the work that Andrew Schneider of Fort Collins is doing. He is not only an artist himself, but he also builds community support for the arts and making through a lens of place-making. He is phenomenally effective and a great collaborator.

The Zander Lander on a roll through the Faire.
The Zander Lander on a roll through the Faire.
Courtesy of Colorado Maker Hub

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

Sharing with 10,000 of my closest friends at Maker Faire Denver, launching a new professionally focused makerspace in Denver to bring small-batch manufacturing to life, and hopefully, we will be picked to host the National Conference for the Nation of Makers in Denver this coming spring. We’ll also be growing the arts component of the annual Sparks & Spirits distillery tasting!

Who do you think will get noticed in the local creative community in the coming year?

Meow Wolf is clearly on the forefront of getting noticed this year. They are a great group to collaborate with, and we can't wait to see the arts they are supporting at Maker Faire Denver.

Meet society’s tinkerers, hobbyists and mad scientists at Maker Faire Denver, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15, at the Denver Mart, 451 East 58th Avenue; visit the website for a schedule and admission prices and packages, ranging from $12 to $36. Learn about the Colorado Maker Hub online.

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