Outside D1A: Johnathon Cramer

A self-taught carpenter with a drive for perfection.

We have a really talented team here at D1A, not just through the work we do for our clients, but each person has a unique set of interests and passions that they pursue outside of the office. This week we are kicking off a new series, Outside D1A, where we tell the stories of our team outside the walls of suite 1201.

Johnathon Cramer is our Director of Integrated Marketing, helping to drive creative programming, partnerships, and strategic development and execution. But John’s other passion is carpentry.

John in his natural habitat.

John has created his own carpentry brand, Cathartic Reindeer, out of a studio in Bed Stuy where he spends his weekends building custom pieces for clients and friends.

A custom antler and birch jewelry stand with engraving. (Cathartic Reindeer)

A self-trained carpenter, John started building after college when he was living at home in Austin, Texas. The therapeutic and creative nature of building drew him in, and a drive for perfection keeps him going today. John started off building small pieces with his dad and quickly became enamored with the process.

“The idea of taking raw lumber and turning it into something that you’ll use for the rest of your life… something that will last longer than I will… made me fall in love with carpentry.”

Through many hours of YouTube tutorials and time in his woodworking shed at home, John began to really develop his skills, taking on more complex projects. When John moved to NYC he knew he wanted to continue his carpentry work so he currently rents out a communal studio in Bed Stuy where he can be found almost every weekend, classical music blasting in the background.

John built his bed frame himself out of both new and reclaimed wood.

The best place to find building materials, John says, is street corners.

“I am known to pick stuff off the side of the street and make use of it…New York City has great stuff sitting on the street — I’ve found gorgeous pieces of hardwood just sitting on the street because people just don’t know what they’re throwing away,”

In addition to repurposing old pieces, he sources repurposed lumber from several different lumber yards in Brooklyn and is working to import torn-down barn wood from a company in Ohio.

John used ‘working splines’ to join this beautiful box- no metal pieces here.

Most of John’s work these days is for clients. Recently, he built a giant set of solid wood bookshelves for a company called PostLight Studios that is now the centerpiece of their podcasting room. It’s this type of large-scale project that challenges both the creative and practical skills; it requires such attention to detail. That’s what keeps John building.

“It feels so good to see a finished piece… It’s not like I ever feel like the piece is truly finished, but I feel that I have put enough time into it that I can walk away.”

John’s Cathartic Reindeer work keeps him busy, but pushing himself to learn new skills and create more innovative pieces makes him not just a better carpenter, but a better member of the D1A team- always striving for interesting and new ways to tell stories.

Check out Cathartic Reindeer on Instagram.

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