NO MORE CRUD
An exponential increase in my exposure to “vintage” design has led to a minor crises of contrast — there’s no longer any excuse for industry’s foul habits.
The past four weeks have been our quietest for nearly a year, which is easily excused by the return of the schoolyear grind and (hopefully) by my own honeymooning, though the time is nearing for a revitalized jump into Fall. The hot months were spent sweating out the cobwebs and renovating the platform - now, it is primed for new voices and new ideas, and we’ve actually got some money in the bank. I was very glad to reformalize , and I’m eager to read your words.
Send your intriguing, bizarre, edgy, profound, and/or reflective work to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can pay you.
I cannot stand the sight of a positive-balance expense account so long as there are talented writers wanting for a ship-shape platform on which to speak. Do it now!
Naturally, has continued chugging away, getting greater and greater still, but my literacy activism-charged and a brief, fairly-irrelevant were all you saw published, here. We did take the opportunity to clean out the pinned messages in our , compiling them together with a retouched look for last week’s .
Otherwise, I have very little to say to you of a concrete, impersonal nature, this month, but I would like to take the time - after spending so much of the past year absorbing everything possible on the media & publishing industry - to posit and reflect on the role of the Magazine as it stands, and what its options are (both broadly, and regarding Extratone, specifically) going forward. In the past few weeks, my print consumption has undergone a long-overdue renovation. I’ve managed to make a few trips with friends to the vast, banjo standard-serenaded labyrinth that is Artichoke Annie’s - mid-Missouri’s most diverse antique mall.
It’s not-so-lazily described as quaint. Bizarre, even, with its boasted “200+ vendors”’ worth of creepy trinkets, home furnishings from every decade of the 20th century, random bits of pre-war agricultural paraphernalia, and gobs and gobs of paper goods. Advertisements, calendars, brochures, owner’s manuals, textbooks, magazines, and on. As a recently-activated typography and design obsessive, Annie’s has all the makings of a new addiction for me. After spending some 70% of my past year’s waking ours consuming and fiddling with digital content, I was delighted to find that my perspective is all of the sudden stuffed with judgement and reverence.
I suppose it’s a bit editorially blasphemous and/or hipster to say (though has informed me that the term has been all but out-of-use for half a decade, now,) but exposure to the beauty found in even the most mundane or technical publications and documentation pre-21st century led me to marvel, but it also (unfortunately) caused me to complain. It wasn’t nearly as articulate as I’d hope, but it can be mostly summarized by what the hell happened?! As in… when, where, and how did design fail because a comparison between something so petty as Cub Scout Literature, then and now, is a hugely frustrating contrast.
I don’t know enough about design to even speculate with any worthwhile authority - and research would likely prove fruitful in the future - but I cannot help but wonder, witnessing such widely-prevalent artistry in just about everything from the color palettes of the hand drawings in children’s books from the 40s, 50s, and 60s to the intricate cartographic masterpieces found in road atlases and . Did we simply cease hiring designers? Did they collectively lose the whole of their taste in 2008, or did we all?! Could we have possibly allowed the exile of the professional eye? Is the industry just now a bunch of amateurs like me, trying to do it ourselves?
Extratone has taught me a whole helluva lot in and around a relatively broad range of subjects throughout its infancy, but in perhaps none have I grown so much as in - design in general, really - and aesthetics. Honestly, I do not think I had much of “an eye” whatsoever before this project, which has left me now unable to leave anything unnoticed. My rediscovery of ’s and its steady, daily site grab of some of the most beautiful design found on the World Wide Web has spurned my zeal around the hope for a beautiful, universally-attuned digital reading environment in the future. I’ll spare you any more links - I have been quite vocal about my discoveries on , if you’re interested.
Fueling my tedious, newfound lust in a big way was my discovery of the complete, freely-available - a polished/cited addendum to this conversation shall be published within the next few weeks, in which I shall propose that design nerds and editorial nerds combine their talents so that we can begin repairs to the woefully neglected aesthetic of digital publishing. If we’ve truly forgotten how to appreciate/acknowledge/celebrate others’ genuinely supreme authority to our own - closed ourselves to the (tremendously valuable) practice of telling somebody their shit is worthless - it’s urgent that we change direction immediately - perhaps even by 180 degrees, to the past., last week, but you’ll have to wait to hear more on that
CEO Jack Conte in berating some of the more privileged language he used to describe the role of creatives in society, but he did in fact make a few compelling arguments for the role of the Patron (in the original sense of the word.) To be an artist’s financial benefactor with little to nonexistent influence on the what and when - to contribute to the continuity of their work and the lifestyle required to incubate it without the guarantee of any tangible individual transactions of work, necessarily., I cited Peter Kafka’s recent with Patreon’s
a person chosen, named, or honored as a special guardian, protector, or supporter | a patron of the arts
a wealthy or influential supporter of an artist or writer
“The unspoken contract between artist and patron.”—D. D. R. Owen
Conte believes that his service (again - note that we use Patreon for subscriptions) has the potential to finally fulfill the now-ancient role, and the model is starting to look quite promising. The niche, depth-emphasized nature of the magazine medium, however, has been an essential shepherd of all manner of communities in the West since its 20th-century rise to relevance, and the expectations of the publishers who communicate in it has remained more or less identical in nature since its last half, though their intensity/volume has pendulumed. An enthusiasm for availability to the reader in correspondence and a prevailing of their chosen culture are the pious, idealized flags to fly, while a few grimy, ethical realities of the intimate advertiser-magazine relationship and the power of circulation - now exposure, more broadly - have led to continuous criticism, justified and otherwise.
It’s no secret that the greater Web and social media have seriously challenged the significance and viability of the business, this century, and they have - by populace - magazines have never been particularly worshiped. Along with many other trades in the great umbrella of Journalism, mastheads of all sizes have borne accusations of superficiality, corruption, and foul dietary effects to a degree that surely feels disproportionate, quite often, and that needn’t change, necessarily - just about all forms of feedback add to the conversation. However, dusty old fellows like myself shan’t miss an opportunity to offer a second look. Yes, bottom-barrel tabloids are often obnoxiously yellow, but I’ve yet to hear one claim to be anything else. If an issue of Seventeen is capable of for the better with its words, just about any obstacle is surely overcomeable., but it’s difficult to imagine a future without intervaled, carefully-wrapped bundles of eloquent longform and thought-provoking discourse astride emotionally-effective, charming visuals. It’s important to remember that
We are listeners, companions, critics, hosts, prophets, acolytes, and supporters. Sometimes, we are players, exposers, protectors, producers, or destroyers. In the young creator’s ecosystem of constant temptation to strike out in the development of a personal brand, de-specialization and isolation are wearing the arts thin, stretching them out and burying them in the noise. I know because I am of the plague’s eldest offspring, and my raisin’ left me unsocialized and medicorely-to-moderately skilled in an unnecessarily spread breadth of subjects and pursuits, with neither much quality work nor tangible credential to show for it. As such, my employment prospects are narrowed alarmingly. I and some of my peers had the privilege of the you can be whatever you want upbringing, and our intersection with the advent of the free platform supersphere allowed us to actually manifest it, unchallenged.
Enter the Content Brat - the vastly more numerous and entitled counter to Jack’s Creative Class. This is the garish banner of Snowball microphones, FL Studio trials, iMovie edits, and RedBubble hustles - it is perhaps the most precious keystone of the not-so-distant past for ourselves and our community. (Ashamedly, I was an extremely amplified case, but I shall bear most of my shame and crippling cringing in my private time.) Together, many of us would find ourselves suiting a particular avenue amidst all of our bullshit, sharpening and specializing our skills with varying degrees of discipline as we’ve grown into our 20s. ers, Tumblr-bile, and DeviantArt lurkers turned to graphic designers and professional video editors, high school mixtape rappers have become Bandcamp best-selling producers and audio engineers, while NEETs and associated movie and anime nerds are being hired as journalists and/or podcasters.
Many of us mostly circumvented academia and progressed to a position of value via our own, sometimes-excruciating path, utilizing all remaining dork-forged muscle memory to draw from both freely-available and illegally-distributed resources. I have had the welcome company of longtime Twitter friends in the loosely-simultaneous journey through the stages of irony, edgy, fury, anxiety, apathy and finally to intrigue, sincere enthusiasm, and painstaking study, for a final, never-quite-finished stride into a future of pride and masterful authority. Though the recesses of our hard drives may contain the most cringey old project files man will ever know, Content Brats are driven to either respectfully reform, or remove themselves from social media, altogether, leaving my friends list saturated with truly one-of-a-kind artists with a unique understanding and appreciation for their chosen trade(s). Because we’ve made so much , we know what it looks like, and we’re propelled by an extraordinary sensitivity to shamefulness because we’ve expended so much time and energy into getting better.
If I should ever succumb to the dumb vocabulary trap orbiting these subjects into which so many bearded, alarmist YouTubers have embarrassed themselves, your succession by assassination would be considered a deeply meaningful personal gesture. That being: paradigm shift, free thinker, GMO-free, radical, sheeple, grass roots, etc. In real life, these folks (usually men) dress themselves despicably (and have even more despicable sentiments justifying and glorifying their solid-steel apathy regarding society’s norms that will fill a monologue nearly as long as the one they whisper to themselves every night in desperate confusion regarding how little female attention they receive,) chomp on weeds, and make sure to completely stop their miserable luxbuggies at every four-way. Breaking rules just for the sake of breaking them is perhaps the real, true-to-life unifier of the white juvenile manchild shitheap race, but disregarding and deconstructing the established for a sensible, more desirable alternative really is the prime motor of progress.
In short, please stop conceding to bullshit, including this letter. It’s time to physically kick my byline the hell off of The Web, forever. Extratone was conceived to be the voice and almanac of the young, zestful, and modern - including the rest of the Content Brat community - because their perspectives are much too original to be left in obscurity or distracted by the redundant, generalized labor of the Personal Brand.
Invest in a revitalized media future by , your thoughts on our work, and/or .
While you do, I’m going to go enjoy the rest of my honeymoon. Cheers.