History Doesn't Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes

My mentor John Langdon once told me, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes."

In the 1990's, the sign painting industry went through a drastic change. The vinyl cutter became cheap enough to buy and produce signs in seconds. After a few years, most craftsmen threw away the paintbrush and bought a Macintosh.

Many amateurs (with no knowledge of typography) jumped on board the vinyl train because they saw it as an easy way to make money and garner attention. Making signs became easily accessible and incredibly lucrative.

Centuries ago, the same thing happened with the printing press, recently with graphic design, and now with social media.

When accessibility and attention go up, average quality goes way down.

Here's the interesting part: If you look on a timeline of when the most timeless typefaces were designed, almost all of them were created in those long stretches between the major technological advancements.

The few artists and designers who make things when they are not popular (nor or easy to make) seem to be the ones who stick with it and elevate the craft.

Go figure.