If the cover of The New Yorker this week comes off a tad condescending, it’s because the magazine’s mascot has always been that way. “Eustace Tilley is a dandy and it kind of seems like a no-brainer that the modern dandy is a decadent hipster,” said the cover’s illustrator Simon Greiner, winner of the 2013 Eustace Tilley Contest. “There’s not a lot of difference between them — the posturing, the commitment to aesthetics …”
A native of Sydney, Australia, the 31-year-old has been in New York City for less than two years, but picked up quickly on the dominant subculture of tattoos, fixies, and food trucks: “I used to have a studio in Williamsburg and would encounter the extreme set of that sub-genre of New Yorkers every day.” It is not, for the record, a self-portrait.
“The New Yorker put up a photo of me (see above) that kind of looks like the picture,” Greiner admitted. “But I was in costume, so it’s not a pure representation of how I normally dress. I do have glasses and I do have a beard, but that’s because of poor eyesight and laziness.”
“People who were interested in culture and the arts in Sydney happened to dress in a way that became a fashion, so if you were wearing a plaid shirt and glasses, then all of a sudden you can be identified as a hipster,” he continued. “A lot of good people fell into it purely by accident and I put myself into that camp. I ride a bike, but that doesn’t make me a hipster.”
Greiner, who works mostly as a graphic designer and animator, said he used the original Tilley drawing as a foundation: “There are certain physical cues — the sideburns into the beard, the monocle into the eyeglasses, the coat, and the hat — it’s morphing each of those elements into the contemporary costume of the hipster. I think it’s recognizable.”
Was the drawing a rebuke of the culture then? “Drawing an analogy between hip and dandyism says it all,” said Greiner. “Being a hipster is a purely aesthetic thing, in a way. It’s a cultural phenomenon and we’ve reached the tipping point. Something’s going to happen soon or everyone will be wearing pirate costumes.”