Straight Edge

I've been seeing variants of this symbol everywhere lately and wondered about missing a trend. What was I missing? Luckily sometimes twitter is better than google.

How did I miss all this in the 90s anyhow?
I'm not a good student of culture. Not good at all.

Straight edge is a subculture and subgenre of hardcore punk whose adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco, and other recreational drugs.
Yeah, bet those dudes were a hoot. Second thought they probably were. I can only imagine pent up late teen angst with no drug related outlet. An unrelenting testosterone fury 24/7.

Seems like coffee shops/roasters and smaller bike manufacturers are digging the straight edge symbol for its edginess.
Handsome Coffee

Original Makers Club, whose goal is to bring us the culture of Cincinnati

Tokyo Fixed gear


Which then lead me to this hilarious tumblr, Your Logo is not Hardcore.[where: 45202] best place to learn how to live downtown cincinnati ohio the ethos of Cincinnati



  1. It's a pretty funny/ridiculous appropriation. BTW, this exhibit review doesn't mention straightedge specifically, but it's a fascinating look back at the year 1993, and a lot of the trends from back then are back, even while some of the attitudes that were just emerging then have been completely subsumed by pop culture:

  2. Fascinating story and I know you are way more aware of these trends as a designer than I am. I've heard the concept of what this article is detailing called long tail, as in the long tail of a graph. The internet has made it possible for these impossibly tiny niches to become mainstream.

    On a side note, I wish I had bookmarked or saved this one piece of Charlie Harper artwork I came across online. I saw it and a bomb went off in my head, mushroom cloud and everything. I know you talk about it all the time but it was like finding Ida, and I thought OMG Harper -> Visualual -> OTR I could actually see all three things in one composition.
    OK, like I said you talk about it, it was just the first time I really saw it.

  3. I went to many straightedge shows in DC in the late 80's/early 90's. Also some in high school (Minor Threat etc.). They often were a bit preachy at times.

  4. Which Harper was it?

    You know, I try to stay on top of various trends and such, because I feel obligated to know what's going on, but there's just too much out there and things blow up and vanish more and more quickly. Keeping up with that stuff can be paralyzing -- there's truly nothing new under the sun.

  5. I think it might have been a peacock with a repeating geometric pattern of feathers. It reminded me of the streetflakes you did for the CAC.
    I imagine you have to be aware of whats going on and at the same time have a laser like focus on what you do.

  6. Another logo to add to the list: Cincinnati's own Brighton Exchange.

    I can't think of a peacock print [I used to remember all the Harpers really well!], but I'm thinking it's Flamboyant Feathers, Catnip, or Provocative Plumage. Yes, we're definitely inspired by the geometric patterns in his work.

  7. Reminds me of the skull and crossbones thing. Charlie was cool, he was one of my wife Donna teachers at AAC. Got to talk to him at CAC a few years ago at the Todd Oldham show. His ability to reduce nature to a it's most simplistic lines was fab. His book is possibly the neatest coffee table book ever.

  8. I'm told there's a vibrant, (and angry), straightedge scene in Dayton. I don't always believe everything I'm told, but, it IS Dayton.

    1. I'd like to know what "but, it IS Dayton" means. And I'm not saying that super defensively even though, full disclosure, I'm from Dayton and live here now. Just curious what sort of reputation Dayton has from Cincinnati folks.

  9. My friend's younger brother was apart of straight edge in high school and apparently they were also supposed to abstain from sex but that rule wasn't as strict if you had "like a long time girlfriend or something"..doesn't seem hardcore when you can break rules whenever. My impression of it was that it's just a clique like any other that had to have some sort of elitist chip on their shoulder to separate themselves from the rest...on the other hand it did keep him out of trouble that I think he would have otherwise been in so live and let live I suppose.