Adam Savage, the host of Discovery Channel's "Savage Builds" and former co-host of "Mythbusters," is known for his epic builds and multidimensional cosplay creations. He started to get paid for his projects at a very young age, although his first gig was far from the $15,000 space suit from 'the move "Alien" or a working Iron Man suit.
Savage got his start close to home. "The very first thing I ever got paid to do was to assemble dollhouse furniture for one of my parents' close friends, who was a semi-famous dollhouse object maker," he tells CNBC Make It.
Savage was hired to assemble miniature Tiffany shopping bags by taking a printed out design and folding it repeatedly to build a three-dimensional shape, similar to how you would build a paper airplane or a paper origami animal. "I think I got paid $6 an hour for about seven hours of work," Savage says.
"When I finished, she was like, 'Oh, I'll pay you. But that really should have taken you about two hours,'" Savage says, laughing. But he adds that, in his defense, he was just 12 years old, a "youngin.'"
Over the years, Savage estimates he has worked over 25 jobs in completely different industries. "Public access cable programmer, library page, paper boy, graphic designer, stack camera operator, type spec, theater rigger, carpenter, painter, costume designer, prop maker, set builder, public speaker, author," Savage recounts, not to mention TV host.
"I often describe myself as a serial skill collector," Savage writes in his recent book, "Every Tool's a Hammer: Life is What You Make It." All of those different jobs and career paths have yielded a vast skill set, as well as some hard-learned lessons.
"If I had one piece of advice that I would pass on to young makers, to my sons, to any young maker interested in exploring, it's to get good at listening — to your collaborators, your co-workers, your employees, your employers," Savage says.
Beyond listening to others, Savage says you need to pay attention to the project itself. "Nothing you ever set out to build is going to end up being exactly what you thought it was — and that's the point, that's why we do it," he says.
And when selecting your projects, listen to those "weird thoughts and proclivities that sort of scratch at the back of your head," Savage says. Maybe you want to dress up as a character from an anime film, even if you don't know why.
That's OK, Savage says: "I'm here to tell you I don't know why you're compelled to either, but it's really important that you explore that thing."
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