“Who could guess that a jug of beads would change my life?”. Comedian Sam Reece afforded herself some much-needed creative freedom and respite through the simple, silly (I use this word with the utmost seriousness) art of crafting. In her new book titled after the club, Shitty Craft Club, Sam not only uses her trademark humour to talk you through several crafting activities but to share personal anecdotes and highlight the problematic nature of perfectionism.
Sam Reece 6.jpg
Given that Google appears to confuse you with Ex on the Beach’s Sam Reece, could you please introduce yourself and what it is you do to our readers?
If reality star/model/salon owner/my internet rival Sam Reece is reading this, hi! Your hair looks great.
To everyone else, hi I’m Sam Reece, the comedy writer/actor/author/woman who glues beads to trash on the internet! I grew up in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New Jersey, which means I’m from New York City. I very gracefully (I’m in therapy) navigate between the three passions I turned into careers—writing comedy, TV acting, and internet videos about shitty crafts.
Is that a good intro? Here are some fun facts you can use just in case:
- Ummm.
- I’m very bad at wearing good shoes.
- That’s not a fun fact wait here’s one.
- My cat’s name is Emma Stone (they have the same eyes!!!!).
- Oh but that’s about my cat…a fun fact about ME…
- I tried surfing last summer and didn’t like it!! (More on that later).
Your interdimensional brainchild Shitty Craft Club began in 2019 as a meeting of friends in a community space, but the number of members jumped considerably when you took the club to TikTok in 2020 with the Shitty Craft Club account now having over 170k followers! What do you think it is about the club that so many people, especially young people, resonate with?
(Interdimensional brainchild is such a good phrase! I’m renting it from you!!! Let me know how much to Venmo.)
I think the club resonates with a lot of people simply because making art is really fucking fun. And whether you’re a professional artist or someone in a career that’s very far from art (like fixing printers??? What are jobs??), shitty crafts are a great way to reconnect with your inner child and find the joy in making art again!
Sometimes I’ll post a video and the comments are like ‘that’s not shitty!’, and while I appreciate the compliment @hotstink420, that’s not the point! To me, the ~*shitty*~ in Shitty Craft Club is all about taking away the pressure of creating Perfect Art™. Gather the supplies you have around you—cardboard, markers, old pasta, hair ties from the floor—and make something weird! The finished product isn’t the point —the point is making something with your own hands and loving it unconditionally because you made it! Your shitty craft is an extension of you in that moment, which I think is my favourite part. I get a lot of messages from Shitty Craft Clubbers sharing their experience, and 99% of the time they share how shitty crafts helped them out of a dark place, work through anxiety, artist’s block, breakups etc. So, I guess my answer is that, overall, shitty crafts are a silly and beautiful way to reconnect with yourself.
I feel the pandemic really highlighted the true importance of art, especially during times of crises. You do a really great job of spreading joyful art as well as promoting art as something that is accessible to everyone both to view and make themselves! When did you realise you were, in fact, an artist?
You know what’s funny? At first, I interpreted this question as “when did you allow yourself to start using the label of ARTIST?”, but as I started writing this long-winded answer about how I still struggle with using that label and how I’m being perceived as an artist by other artists, I realised that the question was actually asking when did I realise (internally) that I was an artist. Immediately I was like, oh wait, I’ve known my whole life!!!! Ever since my brain downloaded the ‘self-awareness’ software as a kid I had the sense that I would grow up to be some type of artist.
For a long time, I intensely pursued musical theatre—went to a very serious conservatory, moved to NYC to try being on BrOadWaY, and auditioned. But very quickly, my creativity felt stifled by the structure of theatre and I knew I needed more creative freedom. I started taking sketch comedy writing and improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade, and for the past ten years, I was super focused on TV writing and musical comedy with my best friend Becky. (Hi Becky, I love you) It wasn’t until I started Shitty Craft Club that I realised I was craving even MORE creative freedom. I love trying new things, learning new art styles, taking classes, and most of all experimenting with how I can blend my experiences of theatre, comedy, and art.
I’ve been practicing a lot of self-compassion this year (brand new concept!!), and a piece of that has been allowing myself to say ‘I’m Sam. I’m an artist in 100 different ways. And I actually think that’s really friccin cool!!!’
Could you explain what crafting is and means to you?
There are a billion articles about art versus crafting and their definitions, and how the label of craft is often assigned to women while men get to be THE ARTISTS. I talk a little about this in the book and how I agree that the distinctions are largely based in misogyny and white supremacy. Even when I read the ‘official’ definitions, I still feel that the line between the two was drawn to establish power and satisfy patriarchal ego :-)
Anyway!!!! For me, crafting is an ongoing exploration in authenticity, identity, queerness, and joy. Even now (four years in) I continue to uncover my most authentic self through Shitty Craft Club. That’s been an invaluable experience. Who could guess that a jug of beads would change my life????
Where or perhaps how do you gain inspiration for your craft ideas?
So much of my inspiration is pulled from what I loved as a kid—Limited Too, Claire’s, ‘90s and early ‘00s prints and colors, everyone’s problematic fav Lisa Frank, Betsey Johnson prom dresses… the list goes on! I also love recreating food and random objects with craft supplies. Like, I had a vision of a regulation size basketball made from beads and I’ve been working on it for weeks. Even with fashion I feel like I’m inspired by what I loved as a kid. My creative energy is very devoted to honouring my inner child!
What are your top crafting tips for our readers?
If you’re intrigued by the art of Shitty Crafting, here are my tips:
Everything you make is perfect.
Hot glue and skin are not friends!!!
Embrace that earnest energy and let yourself go full-cringe. As the internet says, “To be cringe is to be free.”
Sam Reece 7.jpg
Your book Shitty Craft Club was released just last week! As a comedy writer, conceptualising Shitty Craft Club as a book seems only natural. What do you think is important when writing humour?
I feel that knowing yourself really well is essential to a great comedic point of view. Here’s a weird example! For a LOT of my childhood I fantasised about being a surfer girl??? I threw around surf brands like they were my best friends! (Hi Billabong and Roxy!!) I loved surfing movies! My AIM screen name was SRSurfer! And yet! I had never surfed a single day in my life!!!! BUT it was my entire personality for at least four years.
As an adult, I never ever ever ever shared this information. Until. I tried surfing for the first time last summer and fuckiiiing HATED it. Then I wrote an entire song about it with a matching powerpoint presentation that I perform at live shows. The point of view is so deeply personal that it’s somehow incredibly relatable. I love to find that spot and live in it.
…I’m also a big fan of writing jokes that won’t hurt anyone’s feelings!!!
Could you talk us through your writing process, from conception to completion?
Realistically my writing process for the book looked a lot like this: Start 700 Google docs for each potential chapter, write a bunch of ideas for those anywhere but the docs I started for them to make sure everything is really hard to find, watch Grey’s Anatomy from start to finish (again), glue beads to stuff for hours and hours so I can ‘think’, go to a cafe to ‘write’ (drink $5 coffee), buy a cute notebook to keep my ideas in one place even though I have plenty of notebooks, write three chapters all in a single hour, sleep for two days, and then do that over and over again for six months until there’s a book!!!
For comedy, the process is a little different because my best friend (Hi Becky!!!!) is my writing partner. We use a lot of improv throughout our process to find the voices of our characters. And usually as soon as we finish a draft we really like, it’s time to rip it apart and start over so we can create the version we LOVE. After starting over three to four times, we start to really refine the structure, punch up the jokes, and ensure the wants and needs of the characters are super clear.
Overall, I love to make sure that every single word, phrase, and joke are there intentionally. I’m a Virgo, after all :)
In the book’s introduction, you mention you struggle with being a perfectionist. How has crafting this book (as well as silly crafts) helped you with this?
Writing a book focused on breaking out of perfectionism and then focusing on making sure the book is perfect? A CRAFT FOR SURE. I could’ve edited that book forever, but I knew that at a certain point I had to put it down and say, I’m proud of what I made here! Shitty crafts have been such a great practice for recognising the accomplishment of making something instead of criticising it. It takes practice! But the more I make shitty crafts, the more I’m able to give myself room to be a beginner in other areas of my life.
The book celebrates the joy of creating for yourself and for fun, the importance of ‘bad art’ that’s not really bad at all. Do you have a favourite piece of ‘bad art’ that a follower has shown you?
The first thing that comes to mind is a squatty potty that someone covered in beads. It was so funny and absolutely stunning. Really brought a new meaning to shitty crafts. Every day, people tag me in the shitty crafts they make and I’m obsessed with all of them.
I also noticed you are about to embark on a book tour (everybody pack your hot glue guns)! What can we expect from these events?
Oh, don’t worry, I’ve packed PLENTY of glue guns for all of us!!!! I could probably start a glue gun museum at this point. Ok, so there are two types of events on the tour: An In-Craftersation and the classic Shitty Craft Club craft event.
The In-Craftersation is, you guessed it, a craft and a conversation between me and a special guest. TV writer Chelsea Devantez was my first guest and it was such a ding dang blast. We glued stuff to a tiny trash can (in honour of her hit podcast, Glamorous Trash) and talked about everything from middle school diaries to weird jobs we’ve had to pay rent.
A ticket to the classic craft event gets you a slime green Shitty Craft Club tote bag to craft on, all the rhinestones, beads, and supplies you could ever need, 2-3 hours of crafting, snacks, and in some cases photos from a professional photographer. Oh, and memories. And new friends. And rhinestones stuck to your shoes probably. My next craft event is in NYC with my buds at the indie puzzle company Le Puzz, followed by an In-Craftersation at the Moxy Hotel in Williamsburg with comedian Jo Firestone. You should come!!!!
Tour Dates Link.
Finally, what else do you have in store for us to look forward to?
Now that the book is out there and the TikTok videos are… on the internet forever… I’m really excited to pursue how I can merge TV writing and Shitty Craft Club >insert sly emoji here< ALSO. I’m constantly dreaming of what a Shitty Craft Club workshop space and store would be like. This community is so special and inspiring, and I would love to create a safe and welcoming space where we can all be little art freaks together. Stay incredibly tuned!!!!!!
Sam Reece 2.jpg
Sam Reece 3.jpg
Sam Reece 4.jpg
Sam Reece 5.jpg