Tent booths, clear blue sky, green grass—everything’s as it should be at the Farmers Market at Pioneer Park in Provo. Sellers try to ply their wares to wandering people who may or may not be interested.
On the south side of the market, one booth stands out from the rest for two reasons: one, it doesn’t have a tent booth. Two, a TV sits on a nightstand proudly displaying the sign “Yes! There are fish inside.”
- Andrew Magleby mans his booth and stands next to his TV turned fish tank during the Provo Farmer’s Market at Pioneer Park on Saturday morning
Needless to say, that’s usually enough to get the average passerby to stop. Well, that, and the fact that the TV has been converted to a fish tank.
Andrew Magleby, creator of the TV fish tank, has set up shop at the Farmers Market for his inventing business Technadeck, though he’s also gone digital with his website technadeck.blogspot.com. His goal is to make the awesome out of the worthless, no matter how long it takes him. The company motto is “We Make Awesome Happen.”
Making things awesome doesn’t always come easy, but it’s something Magleby has come to accept and even expect. Every project he designs and builds originates with what any ordinary person would consider junk, often cannibalized from classified ads posted on KSL.com. Whether it’s a TV destined for a new life as a fish tank or old pallets reconstituted into custom designed hammock chairs, it always takes more than one shot to get it right.
“Usually my first time I’m making something I fail horribly,” he said, laughing. “It’s like a disaster. I’m like, ‘why in the world am I trying to make this?’ But then the second or third time it turns out well.”
For the 28-year-old BYU alumnus, making something just for the sake of making it isn’t enough. Everything he builds he puts a personalized twist on. When he started to build a cat tree, he wasn’t satisfied with the standard issue design that could be bought at a Pet Smart. Instead, Magleby designed it to disassemble and fit together as a box to make for an easy move. However, he refuses to take all the credit for himself.
“I say ‘we make awesome happen’ because it’s not really just me,” he said. “I can’t claim any right to any of my projects, really. A lot of times I’ll actually talk online with another friend from Portland for a long time just about how to work things out with projects and stuff like that, if something’s not working.”
When he originally came to Provo, Magleby had his heart set on BYU’s animation program. After applying for a year and a half straight with no success, however, he had to face the truth that he wasn’t getting in and needed to move on to something else. So instead of animation, he graduated in psychology.
“It was my second choice, but it worked out pretty well, I guess,” he said. “I got to work with people still, which is what I like to do.”
That’s how Magleby ended up spending a year and a half working at mental hospitals before moving on to the United States Census Bureau for the 2010 Census. Once the census ended at the end of the summer, he found himself out of a job and in need of money. He’d already begun work on one project for a friend by that point, and things snowballed from there.
Building things didn’t start with a TV fish tank for Magleby, though. Creating something, be it a sketch or three dimensional art, has always been on his mind. In his final year of high school, his class voted him ‘most artistic.’
“He has a passion for wonder,” said Gayla Buyukas, who taught him in graphic design and metal work classes his final two years of high school. “He creates his own interests.”
Ardis Bitner, his grandmother, certainly agrees. She still remembers being amazed at how he learned to play the piano on his own, but she’s come to chalk it up to his personality.
“He doesn’t let other people influence him,” she said.
Joe Turner (Techno Joe to his friends, so dubbed because of his love of techno music) helped Magleby set up Technadeck, where he has continued using his artist’s eye to make things happen for other people. When Drew first talked to Techno Joe about starting a business, he wanted to make a company where people came to him with problems that he could fix.
“He’s the kind of guy that makes things right,” Techno Joe said. “He goes out of his way to make sure people have what they need. He always offers to fix any problems with the stuff he sells, free of charge.”
When comes down to the actual creative process, Magleby is not the type to shut himself in a closet and wait for inspiration to come down from on high.
“A lot of my projects aren’t really my idea,” he admitted. “I just figure out how to make it happen. The TV fish tank took about five different people to make that.”
What keeps Magleby going with Technadeck and the junk improvement business (as opposed to hunting down a job with his psychology degree) is how much he enjoys the three dimensional creative process.
“I consider Technadeck more like a hobby that pays for itself,” he said. “It’s just fun. If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it. I mean, who has a hobby that pays for itself?”
To his friends, Magleby leads the ideal life.
“I would quit my job at any time to do what he does,” Techno Joe said. “He gets to set his own schedule and build and sell something he put his heart and soul into.”