featured as part of a blog series for monthly craft series, Urban Folk Circuit

In the world of handmade, many artists utilize old materials to repurpose, reuse, and recycle them into something totally different and unique. While this trend stems in large part from the “green” movement, there has been an overarching gravitation towards all things “old” in recent years. Past styles resurface as the new fashion on runways, while pictures are cooler when taken with a Super 8 camera and developed in a dark room. We all know that “What goes around comes back around”, but what lies in this obsession with nostalgia? In an age where we have the most high-tech phones with built-in cameras, why do we want our snapshots to look like they’re from times gone by?

One of those mediums in which we have channeled our longing for the past is through the popular app, Instagram. For those of you still without a phone that is ‘smart’, Instagram is a photo-editing app that provides a quick way to add various filters to your pictures. It is not only a fun and time-sucking app to download, but has been playing a significant role in marketing for businesses both small and large. A recent article in Social Media Today, suggests that “letting your community see behind the curtain shows a world beyond faces at the counter”. Michael Satterfield, owner of clothing company Morgan and Phillips, claims that the insights into behind-the-scenes aspects of an organization develops a greater relationship with the community. On a larger scale, the Barack Obama campaign detailed everything from volunteers to huge rallies. Starbucks has also been noted for their successful use of Instagram.

Urban Folk Circuit now has its very own Instagram! Follow us at @UFCChicago—we follow back. 

Instagram has flawlessly helped to launch the popularization of all things vintage. Because of the enormous mainstreaming of the app, however, it has not occurred without criticism. Instagram allows anyone and everyone to do what people pay Adobe hundreds of dollars to try and do, leading many to claim it cheapens true photography. Urban Dictionary lovingly calls it “every hipster’s favorite way to make it look like they take really classy pictures when really. . . it’s still a cell phone picture.” We can apply a vignette or lens flare at the touch of a button. And beyond photographs, larger brands and department stores have capitalized off of making mass-produced items appear handmade. With a growing market for items that merely imitate a unique art, have we lost sight of the value of what comes with purchasing a handmade item?

Handmade goods inherently have a sense nostalgia. Making something by hand requires the effort that would have been needed years ago when giant sewing machines or printing presses were not available—and that makes it special. Many artists’ crafts are typically passed down from generation to generation and there is a sense of comfort in these relics of times past. Why else would your grandmother’s knitted sweater be so much cozier than the one that Macy’s sells? Photographing a DIY project through Instagram’s nostalgic lens will only enhance the sentimentality of it. Urban Folk Circuit serves to promote an “old-fashioned awareness” and the purpose of our Instagram will be to showcase the beauty of artists’ already unique items. . . That, and take hip looking pictures of desserts.