SEARCY, Ark. – Over the past few years, Searcy has been going through a cultural renaissance with more and more new artists and crafters popping up and moving to town. While it’s easy to see the evidence of this in Searcy’s many new public murals, DIY workshops, studios, and music showcases, most of the people creating them remain behind the scenes. “The Build Guild” podcast is working to introduce those makers and creators to the public.
The podcast is a one-hour show hosted by three unique, local makers; jack-of-all-trades Ben Myers, art teacher Brian Hickey, and woodworker Coty Skinner.
Their unusual recording space (usually either a workshop or a garage) paired with the conversational flow of the podcast lend to the laid-back vibe that the creators were looking for.
Listening to “The Build Guild” is like sitting in the room with the hosts themselves. Instead of asking a set list of questions, they draw listeners in with jokes, trade secrets, and stories about themselves and each other.
“We just want to shine a light on the creative side of Searcy,” said Myers.
The idea for the podcast came from Myers, an exterminator by day whose creativity and talent in the woodshop unexpectedly brought him internet fame in 2017. Today, his multiple Myers Woodshop accounts have almost 40,000 followers. His experience combining online work and one-of-a-kind woodshop creations inspired him to start “The Build Guild.”
“I knew after finding Coty and other people, that Searcy had more people in a creative space than anybody really realized,” Myers said, “ I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get all the makers from different facets, different mediums together and share their stories.’”
Myers reached out to Skinner and Hickey to serve as co-hosts, and the two were delighted by the idea.
Coty Skinner is the “the full-timer” of the group, lending his experience in using creativity to turn a profit to the show. After spending nearly a decade in the military he came to Searcy and eventually started ARganic Woodwork. Last year Coty’s life changed forever when he was chosen as one of the six small businesses featured on Small Business Revolution. Skinner supports his family from his woodworking business making custom furniture.
Brian Hickey’s smooth voice adds a calming tone to the show. The traditional artist of the group, Hickey originally planned to be an artist in Fayetteville but returned to Searcy because of his love for the small-town vibe. When he is not in his classroom teaching 5th and 6th graders to appreciate art, he is doing anything he can to get his creative fix, be it doodling, painting, or crafting.
As the show’s tagline — ‘A professionally unprofessional podcast for makers’ – suggests, the three hosts’ voices aren’t the only ones you’ll hear. Each episode includes one of Searcy’s many local makers to share their story. The guest list started with people close to the hosts and expanded over time with suggestions from friends and listeners.
“Each time we find somebody new it leads us to all of these other people. It’s definitely a snowball effect.” Myers said, “There has been no shortage of people yet!”
The makers featured on “The Build Guild” are just as diverse as the creators of the podcast; Jeweler Rick Castleman, college student and painter Meredith Palmer, journalist Sha Johnson, and graffiti artist Jason White, just to name a few.
“We’re not partial to any certain medium,” said Skinner, “We want to support it all.”
One topic that always comes up during “The Build Guild” interviews is how the featured maker got started. While answers range anywhere from hobby-gone-career to lifelong passion, all of the featured makers have one thing in common; they had to get started somewhere.
“…there’s a process that everybody goes through, and it’s really nice to see that no matter what you’re doing there’s still that process,” said Skinner.
While the podcast is centered around art, the hosts want listeners to feel like they’re part of a community. By bringing the listening public into a casual space with local artists, they have more than achieved their goal.