Signs of Tradition


Keepers of the Craft from Nathaniel Day on Vimeo.

Many commercial artists using old techniques like to talk about keeping the traditions alive. These cultural milestones represent our past to be sure and in a way artisans can be storytellers and tome keepers for our heritage. But when I see guys like Starr painting old-style signs, it has a deeper meaning than preserving a way of life…

My friends and I have had many conversations about a kind of culture-less-ness. Celebrating Cinco De Mayo, Oktoberfest, Dia De Los Muertos and other worldly events we borrow extensively from vibrant cultures in graphic design, fashion, storytelling and more. In some ways it celebrates a worldly outlook, but as my friends and I have discussed, it also seems to fill a void.

Vintage arts have, for the time being, taken up the task of void filling as well. The digital age has attempted to strip us of our personality. It has fractured our sense of community and it has drown us with a wealth of options that have driven us to the brink of insanity. “Traditional” has become more than the battle cry of conservatives, it has become the psychological pressure valve for a growing body of people desperate for a pocket within a world screaming, callous,  devoid of feeling and connection. It builds upon a generation that is eager to be communal and change the way we live.

Traditional values and styles are arguably fad-sh. Yet if we consider the implications of the last 20 years or so – especially in design – we have come from a time focused on technologically with relative wealth in the 90s and early aughts. Having gone through a massive recession and several tragedies, it seems only natural to revive traditions as medicine for our inner anxieties – save money, build community, strengthen resourcefulness, etc. This soul food may indeed be part of a larger need to find something solid to cling on to, but in the end it’s still rock and roll to me.

Happy “New” Year.