Picture Joross Gamboa dressed as an entrepreneur in a suit with the words “stock market”, “currency”, and “assets” floating around him, or it could be a patriotic Sarah Geronimo, in three different national costumes, over the rice terraces. It might even be John Lloyd Cruz dressed as Harry Potter in an unexpected early 2000s crossover. The images you picture in your head? Most probably the iconic artista notebook covers of the early ‘00s.
inspired by 90s artista notebook covers 😳 pic.twitter.com/DjeRVZz6vm— shen²/ comms status (4/6) (@shenen_ai) October 4, 2020
The artista notebook aesthetic makes a comeback every now and then on social media, more so nowadays with the resurgence of y2k culture. Y2k was the period from the late ‘90s to early 2000s — a period of hope and optimism where people idealized the next step of a technological utopia. Living in the dawn of a new era meant new technological discoveries — this was the age where we learned about holograms, chromatic clothes and make up, blobby electronics, techno music, and anything futuristic. It was an era where digital editing software was becoming more widely used. Looking at the aesthetics incorporated into the covers, it’s safe to say that they were designed with the intention of being trendy during the y2k era.
While some point out how cringey the designs of these notebooks are, some look back at them sentimentally, reminiscing their childhood idols. Characterized by the bright colors, flashy word art, gradients, sparkles, clip art, and other elements that run along the same aesthetic vein, finished off with a studio shot of a celebrity that’s been cropped surrounded by an outer glow just to make sure the actors and actresses weren’t overshadowed by everything else happening.
A staple in every classroom back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, people normally bought these notebooks either to support their favorite ‘artistas’ or to save on money because they were the cheaper options available. In some cases, people would also cover their notebooks with colored paper to hide the design, if not vandalize their faces.
If my notebooks in school looked like this, then I probably would’ve graduated valedictorian. 🤔#NotebookCore #ArtistaNotebook #GameboysTheSeries #PearlNextDoor #HelloStranger #GayaSaPelikula #MyExtraordinary #QuaranthingsTheSeries #BoysLockdown pic.twitter.com/s1ul5EFOVv— 𝘼𝙜𝙚𝙄 (@agelbltzr) October 6, 2020
While it’s the notebooks from the early 2000s that have been getting all the hype, these celebrity notebook covers actually date back to the ‘80s. According to a 2004 article in The Philippine Star, notebook company Advance Paper began operations in the early ‘80s where they had already featured celebrities such as Maricel Soriano, Snooky Serna, and others from that time. Editing software wasn’t a thing yet, so the notebook covers were merely composed of studio shots of the celebrities. Users on r/Philippines have provided some answers regarding the production process of these notebooks, with some mentioning that paper manufacturers purchase stock photos of celebrities before editing them onto the covers.
Although it’s been years, current notebooks designers seem to have not left the familiar flashy y2k aesthetic completely as celebrity notebooks exist today with the same maximalist design. I actually thought I could say that celebrity notebook designs have come a long way from an era where it was acceptable to dress up John Lloyd as Harry Potter, but no.
After 20+ years, the only thing that has changed in the layout is the subject. Current artista notebooks are still as extravagant and still feature the new wave of loveteams of today like MayWard, LizQuen, and JoshLia, to name a few. The cover art follows the same flashy design of the y2k celebrity notebooks era: bold fonts, bright colors, drop shadows, and gradients, along with their favorite celebrities or loveteams.
Image via facebook.com/AdvancePaper
No matter how many listicles or tweets there are talking about the strange aesthetic of these notebooks, there’s no doubt that these are an effective way to sell as comment sections of notebook manufacturers get flooded by dedicated fans hoping to get a notebook with their idols’ faces.
It’s weirdly comforting knowing that some things never change. As strange as it sounds, through celebrity notebooks, we have been able to preserve a unique style of design that has remained consistent from the y2k era up to today, characterized by maximalism with bright colors, funky word art, and studio-shot celebrities.
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