#21 New & Improved


Here’s a BRAND NEW series for my marketing friends & colleagues, and just about anyone who remembers the slogans of yesteryear, many of which are still being printed, displayed & broadcast today. This slogan, tagline & adword series will continue throughout the year, along with other AmperArt editions each & every month.

Adding relevance to this edition, AmperArt subscribers (those who receive each edition as it’s released, absolutely free — subscribe here) will notice a New & Improved newsletter design.

This edition, New & Improved, was created to replicate off-register letterpress printing that you’d see on old cereal & sundry boxes, debossed into the soft cardboard from the heavy printing machinery & oozing the ink into adjacent colors. When you enlarge the image (click on the thumbnail) you’ll see the gigantic halftone dots (Benday screen, actually) used when printing was a cruder process & photo shop was a course you took in high school to learn how to use a camera.

New but NOT Improved

Not everything that’s new is improved, even though the obnoxious starburst on the label says so.

Remember last year’s AmperArt series, “My Favorite Things”? One of my favorite all-time flavors is that strong & bitter iron tinge of Ovaltine, especially when crunching into all the undissolved granules that float to the top after stirring & stirring & stirring with cold milk. Those granules had deliciously concentrated flavor that exploded when you bit into them.

Several years ago I noticed a brand new logo & label on some of the shelf’s Ovaltine jars, alongside the old packaging. I wasn’t that impressed with the new look, but it did trigger a yearning for that familiar flavor & crunch. So I bought one & couldn’t wait to get home.

New? Yes. Improved? No! No! No! The packaging certainly had changed, but it did not mention that the contents had also. It tasted flat, like plain old powdered chocolate, no iron bite at all, & NO CRUNCH. The powder completely dissolved in the milk. Upon closer inspection I discovered the “granules” were not actually compressed “rocks” like the old Ovaltine, but rather puffy globules of the powdered stuff–kind of like cat litter when it gets wet. Only that would taste better than this new bastardized pseudo-Ovaltine.

So I grabbed my jar, rushed back to the market, traded in that one for one of the old models, and proceeded to pull every one of my cherished original Ovaltine jars off the shelf & purchased every one. There must have been 20 or so. Now I couldn’t wait to get home again to wash that horrible “new” flavor out of my mouth & replace it with the Ovaltine of Old.

Guess what? Old packaging, new product. No! No! No! I returned every jar & have not tasted the wonderful flavor nor felt the incredible crunch of Ovaltine ever since. I heard there’s a product in Europe that’s like my childhood memories, so I look forward to tasting that deliciously disgusting iron-tinged chocolate flavor once again. Till then, Nestle’s Strawberry Quick…while it’s still not new & not improved.

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Original size: 20×30 inches
Programs: Illustrator, Photoshop
Fonts: Balloon, Franklin


#27 Work & Play

Click image to view full-size or download hi-rez file for gallery-quality printing and framing. This is a high-resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download. Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

AmperArt #27, Work & Play, honors the business leaders, employees, farmers, tradesmen and sole entrepreneurs that built America. It also celebrates the fun we have on this last holiday of summer.

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#26 Reading Writing & Arithmetic

#26 Reading Writing & Arithmetic
Click to view full-​​size or down­load hi-​​rez image for gallery-​​quality print­ing and fram­ing.
This is a high-​​resolution pdf & may take a few min­utes to down­load.
Find print­ing tips & fram­ing ideas here.

It seems today the 3 R’s should be replaced with the 3 C’s:

Computers, Calculators & Cellphones.

Ideally, it would be the 3 R’s + the 5 C’s. Take the big yellow schoolbus  OVER HERE  to read about that.

But whatever the phrase is, there’s an ampersand in it. The symbol in this edition resembles a plus sign (for arithmetic of course) but I have a feeling it is still an ampersand in abbreviated form. Here is an illustration of my theory:

Starting with the typical scribbled ampersand, left, and evolving through the “scriptier” version next to it  (which is the basis for several ampersands in script fonts) to the next two casual ampersands in the middle (which could double as plus signs) to the final mark which is a true plus sign — still meaning “et” or “and” — you see how I figure the evolution.

Another theory, though forced and most likely incorrect, is the clipping of the small area where the lines form a plus. This is only part of the “t” and does not include the “e” in the formation of a true ampersand, which is the ligature “et” meaning “and” in Latin:

Now to destroy my theory, the plus sign is called just that: “plus” which means “more” in Latin. So is it really a hastily scribbled version of the ampersand or not? I have no choice but to stick to my own theory (factoring in artistic license) so I may display the plus sign as an ampersand and issue this latest AmperArt editon.

listen up!My first clue, in first grade

It was in first grade that I became wary of the school system. Or any authority at all.

Before I even started kindergarten I was enthralled with type. I remember my dad pointing out numerals to me in books, and their shapes were embedded in my mind. I especially remember the number 4 because of my first warning of “the system”:

In first grade we were practicing writing numerals. Even as a kid I tried emulating how things were done professionally, so I drew the number 4 as I had seen on many printed pages, the top strokes meeting at an apex like this:

The next thing I knew, the craggy old teacher drew an X over my effort, stating I did not draw the number as instructed.


 Miss H——- (no wonder she was “Miss”—who would want to marry her?) said I must draw the figure according to the rules, like this:


(I don’t remember which and I don’t care — probably the first.)

From that point on I was wary of all teaching, instructions, opinions and especially rules and regulations. If I had “followed orders” and done what all the other students were doing (which of course earned them straight A’s) I just might be waiting tables or mopping floors instead of designing corporate logos and bestselling books.

I have since always weighed what I heard and read, ran it through my own analysis, and thought independently of the masses. 

Do I believe in rules? Yes. They are for those who won’t think intelligently for themselves. I just wish there were less rules and more intelligent people.

Pro­duc­tion notes for #26 Reading Writing & Arithmetic:
Orig­i­nal size: 20×30 inches
Pro­gram: Illustrator
Font: Century Schoolbook