A.K.A. How I Learned to Defend Hipsters

While some of the feedback about a certain design on a certain frontpage may or may not resemble a certain design made famous by another company (confusing enough) I was reminded of a great quote that I saw over at the GoodHood website. Goodhood is both a great/friendly streetwear store and their blog seems to produce some interesting food for thought. To quote Jean-Luc Godard:

It’s not where you take things from -it’s where you take them to.

Now, I for one understand the importance of intellectual property rights as evidenced by a lengthy legal disclaimer on this very site. However, there is no reason to limit the bounds of creativity by merely drawing inspiration from elsewhere. This has been one of the most resounding and repeated criticisms of hipster: here these people are, “feigning nostalgia for a decade they don’t remember.” Or, “the problem with hipsters is that they only know how to consume, they do not create anything.”

I think this issue has not been properly argued. I will, for the sake of brevity (and for want of understanding) lay out just the most basic argument about borrowing from the past and borrowing from others:

Argument 1: The Hipster Argument

Absolutely, there are so-called “hipsters” who merely consume the latest “next-big-thing” (which often draws inspiration from the past), but there is also grounds to suggest that those on the front edge of hipsterdom do create… and they influence. And they take some serious risks. I don’t care if it was cool in the ’40s, you tell me it doesn’t take balls to be the first one in your neighborhood to leave your house looking like this:

Hipster Stache

 Image Via: Misslasti

It doesn’t matter whether or not you think that’s cool… it’s definitely daring.

Argument 2: The Shepard Fairey Argument

I’m sure most of you are familiar with this image:

AP Photo

No? Don’t recognize it? Look a bit closer. Ahhhh, yes… there it is, the picture that won Barack Obama the election. Now, this picture… in its original form… is a nice photo (kudos to the AP!). The first instance, or piece of art, is fine. It serves its purpose, it documents a moment in time, may sit on the cover of a book or magazine alright, but I sincerely doubt it has the power to evoke the same response as a red and blue hand-rendered image based on this one does. When I look at this picture, I don’t think “HOPE” I think, “boring.”

Thank you Shepard Fairey for fighting for the right to be inspired and for posting the above image from the AP. Perhaps equally interesting, was the AP’s later use of PICTURES OF Mr. Fairey’s image for their own personal gain prior to filing suit against him for copyright infringement.

Argument 3: The Girl Talk Argument

Ok, so anyone familiar with Gregg Gillis (a.k.a Girl Talk) knows that intellectual property rights and the law have followed the man a great deal. His music consists of mashing-up other people’s music, but is certainly his own. While the criticism has come hot and heavy, Gillis also suggests that the act of cutting up and playing with other people’s music is neither objectionable, nor is it anything new. Gillis relates the process of making a mash-up to creating any other song and playing with the chords of others.

While I understand that this is a slightly objectionable look at things, it is also worth noting that legal or not, the creative world is better as a result of what Gillis does. It is art and should be treated as such. No example better exemplifies the importance of where we take things to, rather than where we take things from.


None of this is to suggest that Crockstar is in favor of infringing any sort of copyright, not is it to suggest that Crockstar should be compared with the likes of Fairey or Gillis. It is, however, important to consider the importance of the freedom of art and the freedom to build upon the work of others.