Luke O'Neill asks whether the current trend in 'hipster'-bashing has gone a step too far
The notion of a 'hipster' is certainly not a new phenomenon. Think of the cool cats who hung around Warhol's factory, or more recently the 'Shoreditch twats' so hilariously ridiculed in the series Nathan Barley.
Deriding these individuals has become a favoured pastime of designers, creative sorts and those 'in-the-know'. Funnily enough these are the same professions that many of these hip young things either work in or aspire to work in, and the above attitude of exclusivity is exactly what many people love to rail against. Ironic really.
As fun as it may be to poke fun at people who choose to wear their hair in the style of Morrissey, and have a penchant for thick rimmed glasses and dicky-bows, have we gone a step too far when we apply the same attitude to actual design work?
A Tumblr called "Hipster Branding" has been doing the rounds on the Twittersphere, which has seemingly had some people in fits of laughter, others a bit bemused and this particular onlooker a little annoyed. If anything, the blog would have been better named "Cliched Branding" or better still "Aesthetic trends within Lifestyle branding" as that is essentially what is being shown.
It manages to identify a couple of specific graphic devices that are particularly prevalent at the moment such as the "X" device, but all it does as a whole is identify a trend in heritage or faux authenticity within graphic design and branding as a whole, and this is certainly not the sole domain of these so-called 'hipsters'.
Are we playing a dangerous game by pigeonholing work in the same way that we might casually do to individuals or people who simply choose to dress differently? We could be in danger of limiting the options and freedoms that we have as designers for fear of being deemed too 'hip" or, worse still, damage the industry by making our work seem frivolous or simply stylistically driven.
In issue 149 of Computer Arts, Luke Prowse says: "I once read somewhere that the only thing found in pigeonholes is pigeon shit', which is something we should all bear in mind when being too eager to label and box things off. Besides, there are enough people out there devaluing the work that designers do without us doing so ourselves.