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Dear Hipster:

More than once, you’ve referred to “hipsters” and “graphic design” jobs. Is there some sort of mystical connection between hipsters and Photoshop that I didn’t get the memo on? Is that the only job suitable for hipsters other than yourself?

— Evan

Many jobs suit hipsters just fine, but design work is one of the most agreeable stereotypes. These days, you can’t swing a cat in a room full of hipsters without hitting a few who list “graphic designer” on their résumés. But that wasn’t always so.

Long ago, in the dark age of hipsterdom, hipsters with inclinations toward the visual arts lived impoverished lives, emulating the way of the starving artist as they vied for gallery spaces. The hipsters of olden times labored in vain, for no gallery owners would showcase ironic collages of video-game art, pog sculptures of the Virgin Mary, or lithographs of celebrities encased in bacon.

Then, magic. The rapid price decline of consumer electronics and software opened the world of computerized graphics to anyone with a few hundred dollars and the ability to torrent the penultimate versions of Adobe products. In a matter of years, any art student could direct his artistic visions toward the wide-open field of graphic design.

Instead of failing as artists — as most artists must do, for the art world is cruel, unyielding, and no kind of meritocracy — young hipsters could make something like art. The work more or less satisfied their creative impulses. Best of all, people would pay them for it. In their spare time, they could design posters for their friends’ bands or flyers for a local alleycat race.

As irony would have it, gallery owners these days will display a show of celebrity bacon lithography. Unfortunately, all the attendees at the opening will be hipster graphic designers, bartenders, baristas, artists, and musicians, so they won’t be able to afford the artwork.

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oskidoll Feb. 25, 2015 @ 2:14 p.m.

The essential phrase here is 'art student' which implies that the practitioner who calls him/herself a graphic artist or designer has in fact studied some of the basics with a curriculum that includes training in basic design, color, etc. The ability to use Photoshop in itself is not indicative of any competency as an artist, graphic or otherwise.

Today, it seems that far to many users of Photoshop or other electronic 'art' programs have skipped the art education part and gone directly to self-titles as 'graphic artists or designers.' I would prefer that they use the term 'graphic technician' instead.


jon404 Feb. 25, 2015 @ 3:44 p.m.

In every generation, you have 5% to 10% of the folks who like art. And so wages are low, becuse there are too many people willing to work for low pay in order to have an enjoyable job.

The answer? Follow the money. Forget those rock band posters (unless you are R. Black). No... go to Washington, and start making art for the ONE TRILLION DOLLAR F-35 fighter jet program. The gift that keeps on giving. Art for the Pentagon, for PowerPoint presentations to sell this junker to Congress. Art for Lockheed Martin, also to sell this junker to Congress. Art for tech manuals, endless tech manuals, for fifty years to come. Art for all the sub-contractors who are lined up to get a piece of this bonanza. Hey, it's your tax money!

Also good? Art for IPO stock market presentations. Those exciting brochures with all the little graphs going straight up, like the F-35 on afterburners, before an unfortunate flameout. Tight deadlines always mean great money, and IPO folks have a lot of money to burn at the start of a hustle. Get some!

Don't want to move to DC or NY? Well. Go to the Del Mar National horse show this April, meet the folks, and sell a few equine portraits, like of Mitt Romney's Rafalca before it lost at the Olympics and was shipped to a catfood factory in Donetsk...


DJ Stevens Feb. 26, 2015 @ 10:46 a.m.

I had an idea for a one trillion dollar fighter back in the nineties. I'm over it now.


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