I was looking at some handmade furniture the other day from a self-described “artisan” who doesn’t have a website or a storefront, only an Instagram presence, and I was like, “Oh, that’s really just a hipster version of a carpenter.” It’s the same as how a “mixologist” is the hipster version of a “bartender.” That got me wondering if the “hipster version” of something is basically an upgrade package for humans. If you think about it, a rum and coke from a bartender might run you like $7, but it’s somehow $13.50 when a mixologist makes it. I mean, if it’s more expensive, it has to be an upgrade, right? It would be sort of like how you can go to the Kia dealer and buy the base model, but if you really want to get spendy you can upgrade to the Racecar package, or whatever, that has the cool paint job with racing stripes and maybe a picture of Dale Earnhardt on it somewhere. If that’s true, what would be the hipster version of a janitor, accountant, or kindergarten teacher? And if there is a hipster version of all that, is there anything for which there isn’t a hipster version?
— Pondering in Pacific Beach
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let’s get one thing straight: Dale Earnhardt... on a Kia? C’mon now. You and I both know that’s not happening anytime soon.
There might be some people who disagree with me, and who consider the hipster version of anything to be an upgrade they neither asked for nor wanted in the first place, but which may have become the de facto standard and only option available. You know the kind of people I mean. I may be a little biased on this one, but of course the hipster version of anything counts as an upgrade over “stock,” although I confess I’m a little more comfortable thinking of “upgrades” in terms of places and things as opposed to people. For example, any hipster coffee is an upgrade over that lukewarm stuff they have at the corner store. That is to say, unless the corner store in question is a 7/11 and you’re talking about that blueberry coffee they have in the morning. That stuff is a miracle.
I don’t know if the same concept works so well with people. For example, you may want your hipster artisan when you’re buying a wedding gift for the couple who has everything (except a TV or anything too “materialistic”) in their house, but when your deck falls down and you’ve got a big party planned in a couple weeks, you need a standard-issue carpenter who can show up with four guys and get shit done over a weekend.
This is probably more of a “difference of degree” question, and you want to look at the person doing the things (because hipsters can do anything) rather than the things being done. I can’t say an accountant who specializes in keeping the books for Etsy entrepreneurs is an upgrade over some bigshot from PricewaterhouseCoopers, and I can certainly see a typical hipster being stoked about working custodial services at a cool location (maybe a music venue) that comes with benefits like admission discounts. If you can think it, there’s probably a hipster getting paid to do it somewhere. However, if I’m being fair, I think all kindergarten teachers are a little bit hipster at heart. You have to be pretty hipster to list expertise in finger painting and macaroni crafting on your resume.