This loosely thrown about term can describe a sense of style and taste in music, a lifestyle choice or a state of mind; and can be perceived as an insult or compliment. But what really is “hipster?”
From coffeehouse owners dedicated to grinding flavorful beans into a perfect brew, to fashion icons raving about stylish accessories and vintage-inspired trends, a new documentary film series “American Hipster Presents” aims to seek out trendsetters in 10 cities around the United States to explore contemporary hipster culture.
“On a daily basis I constantly take note of people’s personal styles of dress, musical trends and the whole gamut of other bits and pieces used to assemble the concept of hipster,” said show host Paavo Steinkamp.
The choice of cities is a mix between established creative communities, such as San Francisco and New York, and some less expected places.
“Detroit, for example, isn’t always recognized as a hub for culture, but we’re seeing a growing community of young people doing really interesting things there,” said producer Kimi Milo.
David Fine, director of “American Hipster Presents,” developed the idea with friend Abby Weintraub a few years ago. He is also the head of production at San Francisco-based digital creative studio Seedwell, the company behind the creation of the series
He said he came up with the title of the show because the word “hipster,” a term that is meaningless yet contentious, will grab viewers’ attention.
“There are a lot of extremely talented, interesting and driven people behind these hipster styles and activities,” said Fine. “Our show is about documenting these people in an earnest and genuine way.”
The Seedwell crew spends about a week in each city, researching popular art galleries, bars, restaurants, concert venues and other places. They contact the people responsible for the success of these locations in advance, and upon arriving in each city they seek out other influential people by word of mouth.
The first episode takes place in San Francisco and will air Monday, March 26 at 8 a.m. on the American Hipster YouTube channel. There will be five episodes taking place in San Francisco that will feature Four Barrel Coffee owner Jeremy Tooker, founding members of Yours Truly, a blog that discovers and documents artists through video and written profiles, and photographer Bex Finch among others.
Finch has nearly 90,000 followers on Instagram, an iPhone application that allows users to share photos with one another. She recently captured a road trip from San Francisco to New York using the app and caught the attention of musical band Grizzly Bear. Impressed with her photography skills, the band asked Finch to take photos of them when she arrived in New York.
“Being hipster is knowing your medium–be it coffee, bicycles, photography–so well that you know how to make it perfect,” said Finch.
The next five episodes take place in Austin, Texas, and the following two are scheduled to film in New Orleans and Philadelphia in April. The other six cities are tentative.
American Hipster is one of the first original, advertising-supported channels on YouTube. It will feature two other series, “Max Movie Review,” in which a talking baby reviews Hollywood films, and “Hipster Grandmas,” in which a young guy and girl dress up like old ladies and discuss celebrity news and popular trends.
Steinkamp will also host a video blog, or vlog, to accompany the five to seven minute episodes, responding to viewer comments and sharing anecdotes about his experiences in each city.
“I hope after watching our show, people will come away with a renewed desire to learn more about–and from–everyone around them,” said Steinkamp. “Maybe they’ll appreciate something more than they did before.”
This post has been updated on April 3, 2012 to correct a statement made in the previous version that there is only one episode of “American Hipster Presents.” There are five episodes in each city that the show is filmed.