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Finding a niche: Hipsters talk about their passions

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Hipsters are perhaps the most widely recognized subculture of the 2000s — but they roam in a broadly defined category.

Often dismissed as lethargic, tattooed underachievers who spend their days cultivating facial hair, hipsters can indeed be motivated movers and shakers who work toward realizing their life’s goals — and helping others along the way.

This is what Curtis Hartwell, a librarian at the Bartholomew County Public Library, set out to prove when he organized the Mr. Hipster series, set for every Saturday in July.

These hipsters will talk about their passions, which include screen printing, bicycling, vinyl records and illustration.

Hartwell hopes the word hipster will attract a teen audience that can use the inspiration of slightly older contemporaries. For the librarian, hipster implies a passion on a particular subject matter.

“These people are actually living in Columbus,” Hartwell said. “They’re all doing their own thing and they are doing what they love.”

Andy Miller, Mr. Hipster presenter July 26, lives in Columbus — but his illustrative work for Nickelodeon, Sony, Starburst and Urban Outfitters has garnered him an international audience. He will talk to library audiences about the illustration projects he does, and the thoughts and ideas behind his work.

Although Miller might not readily classify himself as a hipster, “I think the fact that I’m the creator of a book called ‘The Indie Rock Coloring Book’ is pretty incriminating,” he said.

Hipster hobbies also run to the slightly more archaic. Casey Cole runs the local vinyl record label, Thunderbeard.

Vinyl records, which he helps bands produce, are works of art, he said. He’ll focus his Mr. Hipster presentation on vinyl records.

“(Vinyl is) a fascinating format for music,” Cole said. “It’s the coolest way of collecting physical forms of media.”

He also backs away from the hipster characterization for himself but admits his beard and record collection could peg him with the title.

Labels aside, he’s happy to participate in the series.

“I think it’s neat that we live in a community where the library is trying to engage kids and the locals to come out,” he said.

Miller hopes his presentation helps teens find a niche they can carve out for themselves.

“I always take the chance to do these sorts of things because, growing up, I didn’t really fit into regular life,” Miller said.

“School was hard; part-time jobs were hard; and just everyday mundane tasks were hard. Creative pursuits became an escape and a justification for me, though. I’d love to help young people who need to be encouraged in this area.”

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