People MAKE Glasgow

Hurrah! It is People MAKE Glasgow launch day!

As well as introducing you to what the book’s about, in this wee film you see one of the Glasgow makers featured in it – talented signwriter Rachel E Millar – creating the book’s cover art on one of the interior walls of the KDD warehouse.

In a book celebrating makers and making, it felt important that what was on the cover of the book should be a made thing as well – and we all love seeing Rachel’s bold signage on the walls of the KDD warehouse!

So what is People MAKE Glasgow, this project that’s been occupying myself, Tom and Sam for much of the past year? You may remember that four years ago Tom and I produced Shetland Oo – a book exploring and celebrating the work of wool in Shetland. One of Tom’s strengths is documentary photography, governed by his abiding interest in illustrating the connections between work, places, and people – and one of my strengths is writing about such connections. Shetland Oo played to both our strengths and it is a book we are very proud of. Tom’s wonderful photography for that project was later shortlisted for the EEF photographic prize.


In many respects, People MAKE Glasgow might be seen as an extension, or companion of this earlier project – a documentary exploration in words and images of the relationships between people, a place (the city of Glasgow) — and the creative activities and communities that define that place’s distinctive character. Glasgow is somewhere that’s very close to our own hearts: as where Tom’s paternal family hails from (in Bridgeton, in the city’s East End) and where our own creative business is located.

From my own perspective as a writer as well as the owner of a small creative business focused on design and manufacturing, this was a project that interested me immensely. What motivated Glasgow’s creative makers? What questions did they ask themselves and what solutions were they developing to problems that they faced? What we discovered was incredibly inspiring.

At this point in time, when ideas of sustainability and slow process have taken on a new urgency in the context of the climate crisis . . .

. . . when global populations have begun to question the viability of continued, untrammelled growth and the excesses of consumer culture . . .

. . . and when every town and city has to ask itself how its high street could and should look in the future . . .

. . we found it heartening to discover that Glasgow’s diverse and enterprising creative communities are full of interesting answers to these pressing contemporary questions.

You’ll find many different approaches to those questions in the essays I’ve written to accompany each maker profile while, in the book’s introduction, I explore Glasgow’s story as a making and made place – from an eighteenth-century imperial entrepôt, financed by plantation slavery – through a century of textiles and heavy industry – to the diverse and thriving atelier economy that enlivens our contemporary city. If you have ever wondered about my own politics; about how my own creative practice fits into that; about how I regard making and makers, social collectives and community enterprises as key to the general thriving of a place, and about why I currently feel rather positive about Scotland’s creative future and its general direction – all of that is suggested in what I’ve written for this book.

Tom, Sam, myself and the rest of the KDD team are proud to play our own role, alongside our creative friends, in Glasgow’s thriving atelier economy. That pride is reflected throughout the pages of People MAKE Glasgow.

There’s a lot more to say about Tom’s wonderful photography and all the amazing people we’ve featured in the book, but I think I’ll just close by saying how very lovely this book is as a made thing – a thing that’s been produced for us by our printers, Bell & Bain – a local creative company making books in Glasgow since 1831.

People MAKE Glasgow is now available!