What is DIY?

What is DIY?
(From Seattle D.I.Y. [Thanks ya’ll!])

The DIY ethic (do it yourself ethic) refers to the ethic of being self-reliant by completing tasks oneself as opposed to having others who are likely more experienced complete them. The term can indicate “doing” anything from home improvements and repairs to healthcare, from publications to electronics.

DIY questions the supposed uniqueness of the expert’s skills, and promotes the ability of the ordinary person to learn to do more than they thought was possible.

In the punk subculture, the DIY ethic is tied to punk ideology and anticonsumerism, as a rejection of the need to purchase items or use existing systems or processes. Emerging punk bands often perform basement shows in residential homes, rather than at traditional venue, to avoid corporate sponsorship. The DIY punk ethic also applies to everyday living, such as learning bicycle repair rather than taking a bike to a mechanic’s shop, sewing/repairing/modifying clothing rather than buying new clothes, starting vegetable gardens, and reclaiming recyclable products by dumpster diving. Punk impresario David Ferguson’s CD Presents was a DIY concert production, recording studio and record label network.


The term ‘DIY’ or ‘Do-It-Yourself’ is also used to describe:

* Self-publishing books, zines, and alternative comics.
* bands or solo artists releasing their music on self-funded record labels
* creating crafts such as knitting, sewing, handmade jewelry, ceramics, etc.[2]
* creating punk, indie, or hipster musical merchandise through the use of recycling thrift store or discarded materials, usually decorated with logo art applied by silk screen.[3]
* Independent game development and game modding.

DIY as a subculture arguably began with the punk movement of the 1970s[4]. Instead of traditional means of bands reaching their audiences through large music labels, bands began recording themselves, manufacturing albums and merchandise, booking their own tours, and creating opportunities for smaller bands to get wider recognition and gain cult status through repetitive low-cost DIY touring. The burgeoning zine movement took up coverage of and promotion of the underground punk scenes, and significantly altered the way fans interacted with musicians. Zines quickly branched off from being hand-made music magazines to become more personal. Zines quickly became one of the youth culture’s gateways to DIY culture, which lead to tutorial zines showing others how to make their own shirts, posters, zines, books, food, etc.

Political action

With the rise of the modern multi-national corporation, North American and European DIY culture has increasingly become a social and political ideology as well as a hobby and fashion aesthetic. Similar to the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1900s, the modern DIY movement is viewed as a reactionary response on an individual scale to modern industrial society’s reliance on mass-production. In response to the perception and belief that these large multi-national companies exploit labor in developing countries, (such as Gap, Nike, and Coca-Cola), the DIY subculture has increasingly seen its choices as consumers motivated in part to not support such perceived cruelty and abuse. A common sentiment expressed in DIY culture is to “think globally, act locally,” meaning that support of multinational corporations supports exploitative labor and environmental practices, so to purchase goods and services made locally in effect boycotts these organizations. In addition, the making, recycling, or otherwise following a doctrine of “non consumption” as part of DIY subculture lessens the amount of sales taxes one pays, such taxes being viewed as similarly aiding such morally repugnant institutions as governments which wage war. This view of “consuming less as political statement” is not agreed upon in the subcultures it is found in, but is a motivating force for many of its adherents.
DIY culture is not limited to hand-making items such as clothing and housewares, but extends to choices of public transportation such as biking and bike repair, walking, taking public transportation, making electric, hybrid or bio-diesel vehicles and modifying existing vehicles, to avoid supporting traditional car companies, which are perceived to be amoral. Listening to and making community radio, pirate radio, and watching and making community television instead of advertising-filled traditional media is also common.

(From Seattle D.I.Y. [Thanks ya’ll!])


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