photo credit ugallery.com The Old Schoolhouse Sharon France
I consider myself old-school. Some might say that to be more old school, I should actually say, “I be ol’ skoool”, as if using verbs and spelling wrong just to come off as inner-city retro-hip somehow is more badassly older-school than just using English the way it has been for the last 200 years. Sure, I like some of the cultural creations of the 1980s and 1990s, but having been born in the 70s, they’re not old school enough for me.
The value of tradition
I appreciate tradition, enjoy ritual, and value sincere manners. These things deepen and enrich time. They appear in and define all cultures. And they can be a foundation to consider newness from or act as roots when the mighty winds of uncertainty blow.
I’m also drawn to older art, like Japanese woodblock, 19th Century Parisian cafés, Inuit soapstone carvings, and classic European wine. We hear sayings like, “She’s got an ‘old Hollywood’ beauty”. And we see profile pictures with Route 66 1950s Americana revival. Maybe the art signals something about the values and traditions of those times and feels pure-intentioned and authentic.
But I use “old school” as an excuse to avoid the discomfort of change. I resist newness out of an abundance of suspicion. I’m stingy on social media. I want to publish my manuscript as a book through a reputable house. I’m uncomfortable asking for money to do something later, instead feeling I should earn it by delivering something first.
In this time of hyper-progress, it’s important to manage the frenetic change from that base of values, but it can hurt you. Despite the briskness of information, interaction, and investment, my traditionalist ways make me too stubborn, blind, scared, shy, stupid, or maybe uninspired to embrace and leverage them.
Where’s the balance?
Those things that seem old were new in their time. Woodblock, Hollywood, and champagne discovered technologies that defined their eras and changed the future in a way that kept their appeal timeless.
In design, we can take older art and tweak it for today. Take the film Moulin Rouge. Love it or hate it, it stylishly connects late-1800s Paris to early 2000s America while musically travelling from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Or consider this guy, Nemanja Bogdanov. Note how his colour, space, and precision modernize older-feeling design.
Maybe it’s a question of matching. If I can combine my appreciation for tradition with a tech-savvy, risk-taking visionary, we just might have something.
Now, to find that person.