On the left, the poster I bought in December 2007. On the right, one of the poster's many appearances spotted around England in 2009.
Today in British newspaper "The Guardian" there's an article about a poster. An anonymously-designed poster created in 1939 as English World War II propaganda intended, along with its two preceding posters, to comfort the English as they faced the Germans. The first two posters were widely used all over the country, but this particular poster (photo above) was never used, as it was reserved for the event of an actual invasion of the island.
ANYway, what bugs me is this: I randomly spotted a cheap, rolled-up copy of this poster in a corner of a museum shop at the end of 2007 during a trip to London and snapped it up. It was very cool. It was so cheap. It summed up the British way of life perfectly. And best of all, I knew it was cool, yet it wasn't "trendy" and it wasn't hanging in every "hip" boutique around. Yet.
Now, over a year later this poster's popping up everywhere, apparently thanks to the frigging economic recession. Click here to read the article about it from today's Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/18/keep-calm-carry-on-poster.
I feel like this happens to me all the time: I spot something that feels especially awesome or interesting or attractive to me for some unidentified reason - and buy it if i can afford it. Then somewhere down the road it becomes frustratingly, ridiculously popular. And I'm left thinking: "But I bought mine over a YEAR ago!" or "Oh crap, now that this thing's for sale in the mall I'll have to retire mine to the closet," or "What happened to the days when vintage fairs were free to get into and had elbow room to browse around?" or "I can't believe they've tripled the price of this thing since it got featured in Latest Crap magazine."
So I wonder: If I'm so good at spotting trends before they're trends, why haven't I been able to make a CAREER out of it? Not that I've ever attempted to...
Why haven't I managed to capitalize on my intuition if I know what kind of necklaces are going to be rockin' BEFORE the Spring/Summer '09 fashion week reports are published? If I spot an unsuccessfully marketed toy doll from 1972 and venture to find one for myself, why does that doll later become a global cult phenomenon with thousands of fans, thus pushing the actual doll totally out of my financial grasp? When I love a band from their earliest days of playing in bars, then three CDs later they hit the radio or win a Grammy, why am I annoyed instead of happy? And when I buy an unknown, non-trademarked phrase poster a full year before it's displayed elsewhere, I want to scream: "GIVE ME CREDIT FOR SPOTTING THAT FIRST!"
Why do I care about getting credit for loving or finding something first? Do I even have a special "talent" for doing so, or do I just have a long list of past coincidences? Are all these little things just frustrating examples of how I might have been great at something if I'd focused on being a professional trend-spotter right from the start? I mean, it's only fair of me to point out that someone working for that museum had to make the decision to PRINT the first run of the poster for the shop - I wasn't literally the first to think it was cool.
And even if I did get credit for something like this, would I want money for my talent, or would I just need the egotistical knowledge that I knew what was cool BEFORE it was "cool"?
Before I go I'd like to note one more annoying thing: I identified the PURPLE trend in menswear long before anyone in the media mentioned it. I was talking about the ubiquity of the purple neck tie on politicians and news reporters to my husband many months before purple was declared "the color of the recession."
OK. I'm glad I got that off my chest.
So... am I just another whiny, 35-year-old with a degree in Advertising, years of living in Los Angeles and a love of slightly unusual things with a smidge of intuition and - admittedly - a habit of snobbishness which won't allow me to participate in anything once it's reached the mainstream?
And what about things that hit the mainstream, but which I continue to love despite that fact (giant 1970s sunglasses and brightly printed maxi-sundresses, anyone?)?
Does all this mean I have to take the "KEEP CALM" poster off the wall of the entry to my home?
Do I really want my flat looking like a display straight out of a London Urban Outfitters? Ugh.
I have nothing against young, hip celebs, but somehow it's disappointing to see a Harry Potter movie star sporting the slogan on a t-shirt.