It’s Hip to Draw Squares: How Hipsters Have Taken Over Graphic Design Colleges

A typical hipster Saturday goes a little something like this… First, pick up some fruits, vegetables and honey at the farmer’s market. Next, browse the second-hand record store for that vintage Cootie Williams album. Then hit American Apparel for a new hoodie or two. By the time dusk falls, it’s time for that new performance art exhibit showcasing a woman who simulates death by loneliness and afterwards wait in line for two hours to try out that new certified organic Korean-Argentinean restaurant. Sundays are pretty much the same, except perhaps for a jam session with the band….

Hipsters are quite a busy group of folks. Being on the cutting edge of culture is not only a commitment to being perpetually cooler than everyone else, but also a significant investment of time and money. You can’t really tout your hipsterness with authority unless you see every struggling indie band before they sell out and sample every new fusion bistro before they get commercialized. Yet all these hours of condescending trendsetting aren’t for naught. As it turns out, hipsters actually have a knack for being on the pulse of what’s popular in cuisine, fashion, music, and art. Just go to any of the many graphic design colleges around the country and see for yourself. You can’t throw a pair of tortoiseshell glasses without hitting someone in their skinny jeans and bowler hat.

But for all of that individuality, hipsters really are a homogenous bunch.

Take a look at college, during their pursuit to find themselves. Many hipsters seek a graphic design education (or experimental digital media, whatever) because both thrive upon innovation in art. Hipsters may search for unique performance exhibitions and follow revolutionary virtuosos for street cred as much as artistic enlightenment, but regardless they often develop a discriminating eye for inventive visuals. Success in graphic design also depends upon creating something new and rare. In a world where people are continually bombarded by a wealth of images through film, television, print journalism, and online publications, as well as painting, sculpture, and theatre, it becomes increasingly difficult to produce a visual piece that will catch the public’s attention. With their passion for the novel and sometimes subversive, hipsters are a natural fit for colleges that offer a graphic design education.

It’s so incredibly hip that hipster art has even transcended itself. Artists are now seeking post-hipster avenues in which to express themselves through their creations. In many ways the Mecca of hipsters, New York is also the home to Aurash Khawarzad, an artist who has been inspired by the Occupy Movement to take his graphic design background and affect change in his community. Among his many design initiatives, Khawarzad has constructed interactive billboards that are collectively curated by local neighborhoods. His hope is that this project and others will fuse art with civic responsibility to recreate the city “from the ground up.” Often mocked as jaded and self-centered twentysomethings with little to offer society, hipsters like Khawarzad are changing the image of this eccentric demographic. By taking their keen eye for graphic design and putting it toward something more significant than another afternoon rummaging through the T-shirt bin at Salvation Army, there just might be hope for hipsters yet. But they need to get rid of the skinny jeans. Pronto.

Drew Hendricks
Drew Hendricks is a tech, social media and environmental addict. He's written for many major publishers such as National Geographic and Technorati.

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