'Instagram’s Endangered Ephemera' by Alexandra Lange in The New Yorker

"For some, Instagram has been an easy way to deal with personal collections. If you are the proud owner of thousands of vintage Valentines, embroidered tourist patches, or personalized book plates, digitizing them can feel overwhelming. The dailyness of Instagram—one photo, one day at a time—breaks the task down, and the endorphin boost of likes and followers keeps you rolling. A number of the collectors I spoke to originally included their ephemera in their personal feed, but spun the material off into a dedicated channel after a positive response. This also gave them a chance to polish their presentation. Bill Rose (@junktype) says, “Most of the objects in my feed are no bigger than a couple of inches wide. They are often so small that my phone has trouble focussing given the close range of my subject.” Charles Clarke (@matchbookdiaries) shoots his matchbooks against a white background. “I use the white background because it looks clean, and because you can scroll my profile page and it doesn’t look like there are any dividers between the photos. It looks like a big poster.”

These accounts also provide inspiration for working professionals and act as an early warning system for design revivals. Several of the ephemera accounts that I’ve spotted have turned out to be run by designers. Ara Devejian (@LetterGetter), a creative director, started his when he moved to Los Angeles’s superlatively-signed Theatre District. “Every day, I try to take a new route to work or wherever, especially going way out my way to discover new places on my bike or in the car, and in turn LetterGetter is the happy byproduct of that curiosity.” At first Devejian wanted to document typographic nightmares—the illegible, the mishandled—but, as with most Instagram accounts, things swung over to the positive. The platform’s users have such a strong preference for things that are pretty (however you define it) that it’s difficult to swim against the tide of posting “bests” rather than “worsts.” “@LetterGetter helps inform some of the typographic projects I work on,” Devejian said, “like the title card I designed for Gymkhana 7. The style of the photos is intentionally flat or sparse in order to see the letterforms as they were conceived.” "

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