We’re living in an era of bright, new and shiny. The technology we each carry around in our pockets and bags, whether it’s an iPad, iPhone or laptop, gives us the ability to create at a moment’s notice anywhere we like, and we do. We spend countless hours on these machines creating things. The tech in these machines gives us the ability to create flawlessly designed images and typography. Yet, also on these machines we find apps such as Instagram, Hipstagram and Camera Awesome that allow us to created images in the likeness of something we’d find in an attic. The app Lettrs allows you to use your phone to type or dictate a letter which will be converted into a “hand” written letter which can be delivered digitally, or as an actual letter in the post. So why in this golden age of technological precision do we still have that guilty, undying craving for old and grungy? What is it about the wonderful imperfection of handmade that make us so frigging giddy? Why, from letterpress to hand drawn typography, do we love to get our hands dirty?
For one, handmade is human. No matter what your ma tells you, not a single one of us came into this world perfect. You know from every time you’ve looked in the mirror, one eye might be a little bigger, or an ear may be slightly higher than the other. Something made by hand will always have a bit of what the makers, hand added to it. It’s in the character of the work. Handmade is inherently more authentic, and sometime it’s a little wonky, but it’s that little bit of wonk that makes handmade more approachable, friendlier, more real and likable.
Handmade needs hands, and usually, along with those hands, comes a maker. We like makers. We like makers because they’re passionate people that can get really geeky about what they’re doing. Makers pour time, energy, and sometimes their life savings into what they’re doing because they can’t imagine doing anything else. We like that kind of passion.
People are nostalgic. We like stuff that reminds us of where we’ve come from and where we’ve been. We like to be reminded of our past, and not just our personal past, but our cultural past as well. The accomplishments we can all be proud of, the folks who we may not see as often as we would like. A saved handbill, or a box of letters carefully preserved in a shoe box under your bed. The stuff of sweaty palms and butterflies in your stomach.
It seems in this era of bright, new and shiny, handmade is an antidote to digital ephemera, texts, emails, and voicemails, which unlike ephemera of the past, are truly here in the now, gone in the next. As we continue forward into an increasingly digital world, the stuff you can actually hold onto is going to become increasingly valuable to us.