the original hipster movement

Fout 1 Nina Fout History of Graphic Design Professor Laura Huaracha December 15, 2017 The Original Hipster Movement Throughout the history of design we have seen many trends come and go: some only here for a short time while others endure for years. One of the most important design movements was the Arts & Crafts movement that took root in London during the
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  Fout 1 Nina Fout History of Graphic Design Professor Laura Huaracha December 15, 2017 The Original Hipster Movement   Throughout the history of design we have seen many trends come and go: some only here for a short time while others endure for years. One of the most important design movements was the Arts & Crafts movement that took root in London during the late nineteenth century. The Industrial Revolution that took place shortly before in the mid nineteenth century generated many advancements in technology and cuts to the cost of production; however, those changes caused an overall decline in design quality because of the surplus of machines and mass-production of materials lead to a design process that was cheap and disjointed (Douglas). What the Arts & Crafts movement did was it brought back the human element back into design and turned the discipline of graphic design into a craft. It marked a turning point in design philosophy and elevated the art of design to the same status as that of fine art found in museums. Although the movement did not completely reject mass production and the use of machines; instead it advocated for the mastery of design as a craft, unity from start to finish, and bringing back the organic and “human” element that makes graphic desig n an art. This movement reflects the same kind of attitudes found in the contemporary subculture of the hipster movement that has surged in popularity in recent years. The modern hipster movement is all about the “farm -to- table” mentality that follows a de sign all the way from conception to its completion and advocates for truth in materials.  Fout 2 The hipster movement can be traced to a number of different eras in American culture such as the emergence of the Jazz Age and the rapid social changes that took place during that time to redefine what is “cool,” and the new direction of modernism that favors streamlined functionality over sentimental ornament. Another example would be the hippies of the Vietnam era that popularized underground counterculture to the point where it was embraced by the mainstream. Today we see hipsters as independent thinkers that are sincerely insincere and drenched with irony: hipsters are purposefully “uncool to be cool” (Weeks).   The way that the “farm -to- table” mentality fits into th e hipster ideal is a preoccupation with the ingredients and their source. However, the argument being made by critics of this movement is that an obsession with ingredients is formed at the expense of developing any kind of actual talent in the treatment of those ingredients (Herman). A comparison can be made between modern hipsters and designers of the Arts & Crafts era in the way that they both focused very heavily on the materials being used. They advocated for truth in materials in a way that designers believed that the materials being used were a fundamental facet of the overall design. However, a key difference between the two is that in Arts & Crafts, the treatment of those materials were equally as important as the materials themselves. In contrast with the Industrial era in which Arts & Crafts srcinated, the movement was largely influenced by medieval illuminated manuscripts which were filled with intricate detail and only used the finest materials. Each illuminated manuscripts was made by one person and they were responsible for every aspect of its creation from conception to publication. Due to the costly and time consuming process, illuminated manuscripts were only used to make specialty books, such as the bible, that only the royal and the affluent could  Fout 3 afford. With those same ideals in mind, Arts & Crafts designers held craftsmanship as the ultimate priority and sought to mimic the same process by having each designer stay with their work in the same way that illuminated manuscripts were made; by doing this designers could solve the problem of their designs becoming disjointed as it’s passed to a new person for each step of the process. The designer is able to stay with their design every step of the way and can defend their artistic vision from outside influence. On the other hand, there were some downsides to craftsmanship that is taken to the extreme in instances like the Arts & Crafts and modern day hipster movements: the preoccupation with only using high quality materials to create artisan products drove costs to skyrocket. Comparing products from the Victorian and Arts & Crafts era, products were now fewer and farer inbetween. All the progress made during the Victorian era as far as accessibility of products go had been undone. The Arts & Crafts era returned to an era similar to medieval illuminated manuscripts. During that time bookmaking was such a time consuming, tedious, and expensive process that only the very privileged royal and affluent families could afford them: the same problem is facing present day hipsters hawking commodities that are whole, organic, and raw (Meggs and Purvis 49-51). What good is craftsmanship if no one can even afford to have it? It has the potential of forcing people to begin regarding the entire field of design as superfluous and frivolous. Despite challenges regarding availability that are present in both the Arts & Crafts and the contemporary hipster movements, the intentions of both still remain noble. By the end of the Victorian era, designers got so carried away with all of the new technology that was coming into availability that they lost sight of the artistry element to design. What the Arts & Crafts  Fout 4 movement set out to accomplish was to return graphic design to a craft through the mastery of materials. Its hipster ideals served as a wake-up call for designers to restore their sense of integrity and, once again take pride in their work. William Morris, who is considered to be the father of the Arts & Crafts movement, has described the motivation for the movement as the search for the“fitness of purpose, truth of materials and methods of production, and individual expression of both designer & worker” (Meggs and Purvis 188)  As time progressed designers were able to strike a balance between maintaining the integrity of the materials being used and keeping costs to a more reasonable level so that printed goods could continue to be accessible to the general public. The Arts & Crafts movement set the table for other movements, like Art Nouveau and Genesis design, to take place and evolve into what we know now as modern design. Another important thing that stemmed from the movement was the formation of artists guilds that allowed artists greater control over their work and room for experimentation (Meggs and Purvis 191). These guilds greatly resemble modern day design firms such as Pentagram Design, the world’s largest independently owned firm. In conclusion, the Arts & Crafts movement is one of the most important and influential movements in design history because it was a critical point in design philosophy. That new philosophy was then able to effectively elevated graphic design to the same prestige as fine art through its treatment of materials and attention to detail. Those ideals endured all the way to the mod ern age with today’s hipster movement that also promotes the same kind integrity in consumer goods that made Arts & Crafts so successful. It was an essential movement because it served as a wake-up call for designers worldwide to step up their game and produce better
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