By: James G. Carlson
It is an inarguable fact that as human beings we presently live in an overly materialistic society where the mainstream corporate machines endlessly spew forth mass-produced products designed specifically to excite the various youth cultures and subcultures of the world. It's a game of effective marketing propaganda. It's a race to erect mom n' pop store-eating Walmarts which monopolize trade and services in general. It's the clamoring for popular goods from sleepers and followers intent on riding the latest trend onward to the next to pop up. Supply and demand is kept alive and well, making the rich substantially richer and the poor ever poorer. It's disgusting profit margins. It's cut-throat business practices and zero ethics at its worst. And there's definitely no sign of it getting any better any time soon.
Still, in the underground there are still independent craftsmen and women and sellers of fair-priced DIY goods. The truth is, it's a pretty cool thing to have an underground market as an alternative to the mainstream. Most of these DIY craftsmen and women and sellers have practices logded firmly in punk beliefs and ethics. Their products are oftentimes unique and limited in availability, handmade, homemade, and full of heart and soul. Certainly a most welcome alternative.
One such artist is the very lovely and talented Kathleen Harkins, whose duct tape accessories -- purses, backpacks, wallets, journals, card holders, and so on -- are exactly the type of unique, handmade, homemade goods I'm talking about. With quite a few years experience coupled with an abundance of natural artistic skill and vision, Kathleen, whose underground market moniker is The Ducktapediva, has fashioned purses and wallets and other items with little more than her simply found materials and her hands, using painstaking detail and patience.
Over the course of the two-plus years that I have known Kathleen I have seen her make items with impressive designs. For a time she fashioned items based on bands she favors, like Mischief Brew, Flogging Molly, and so on. I have seen her make items with agreeable pop culture images, like Betty Page, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Lucy, Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and others of the sort. And I have witnessed her create basic themes such as pirate flag skull and crossbones, Hunter S. Thompson's well-known raised fist, Alice in Wonderland, classic horror figures, Halloween, autumnal, music notes, and various others.
Having seen Kathleen do her thing for some time now, and having seen peoples' reactions to it in general, as well as her admirable business practices, I decided to write this little piece on both she and her endeavor when she told me she was thinking of advertising with Punk Globe.
This isn't just a plug for Kat's goods, but a plea for all of you to keep your purchases with the small business people, with the DIY'ers, with the undergrounders and punks and the non-corporate and anti-capitalist craftsmen and women and sellers. Keep it theirs, and keep it yours.