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From the Design Desk - Everything Old is New Again

Over the weekend my mother and I went adventure shopping in downtown Indianapolis.  I call it adventure shopping because we never have intentions of buying anything, we just find places that sound neat and interesting.  We went to an architectural salvage yard, which was one of the coolest places I've ever been - almost a small warehouse of antique pieces and materials.  We also visited Homespun, a boutique in Irvington that features handmade goods by over 130 artisans across the continent. While we browsed at handmade jewelry, accessories, artwork, and decor, we got into a lengthy discussion about the resurgence of homemade and vintage crafting.  My mother grew up in rural Arkansas in the 1950's-60's, and learned how to sew when she was very young.  She made an interesting point about how when her generation reached adulthood, they wanted everything to be new, not hand-me-down or inherited like they had been used to, and for the next few decades people have been more focused on having everything brand new.  But the generation of young adults today has developed this love of all things old - we cherish vintage pieces and heirloom antiques, we like old unique spaces and things made with our own hands just as much as we value our advanced technology and connectivity.  We talked about the rise of suburbia and the renewed interest in urban renovation, about the revival of handmade crafting because of websites like Etsy and Pinterest, and how I really need to learn how to use a sewing machine. Vintage seems like a buzzword these days - and what's crazy about that is that by now, things from the 1980's are being called vintage.  But I suppose that's because style and technology have come so far in such a short time that what seemed cutting edge then is actually retro now.  This translates especially in design, where there has been such a renewed interest in traditional techniques like letterpress and calligraphy.  About a third of the top 50 fonts on MyFonts Best Seller's list could be described as "handwritten" or "retro", which covers anything from turn of the century to the mid-1980's in terms of design aesthetic. For those of us that don't have access to a letterpress and cases of wood type (if only), we have to use our creative skills to achieve the same look and feel using texture, pattern and type.  It's actually easier than you think - here are a few quick tips to getting that "vintage" look within your modern space-age computer box: 1. Mix typefaces - Take a look at old newspapers.  Every inch of printable space was used, because block type sizes were designed to nestle perfectly.  Divide your print space into a grid, and don't be afraid to stretch and space out your letters to fill all of the space.  Limit yourself to two to three typefaces, and experiment with weights and cases. 2. Texture - Get swatches of old fabric, crumpled or handmade paper, and weathered wood and scan them, or search online for free texture packs.  Layer textures over your text or photos to create that "grungy" look. 3. Elbow Grease - When in doubt, do it by hand.  Typeset text first, then trace it and scan it in.  Burn the edges of paper, tear it, destroy it.  Stain fabric with coffee or tea.  Then scan it and use it as a design element. Stephanie Ringold is the Graphic Designer at AG Carmel | @StessRingold

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