#7 In & Out

#7 In & Out

AmperArt #7: In & Out

Hats, helmets and hardhats off to the workforce!

Whether we work 9 to 5, part time, graveyard, freelance, or own our own Fortune 500 company, we really do clock in and out. Every moment we’re driving to work, driving a nail, answering email, courting a client, or just daydreaming about an invention, we are “clocked in.”

And every moment we are “clocked in” we are adding to the value of somebody’s existence, whether through a product, a profession, or serving a blue plate special (like my mom did, and always with a smile).

If you are “clocked out” this weekend, enjoy the Labor Day festivities. And if you are working, know that your contribution to what makes this country tick is truly appreciated.

listen up!Work, work, work

Every single thing¬†I’m touching, looking at or¬†listening to right now was made by someone, or most¬†likely¬†hundreds of¬†people, who traded their time, talent, expertise, and hard labor for a paycheck.

This monitor, for example: the miners for the phosphors; the product designers; the engineers; the oilmen who drill for the plastic; the solderers; the printers for the UL sticker; the bookkeepers, shippers, and truck drivers; the electrical contractors who supply the power; the tech support; and yes, the graphic designers who created the packaging, advertising and instruction manual.

I was listening to an interview by the late Buddy Rich, jazz drummer. When¬†asked if he enjoys his work as a drummer, he replied, “Work? What work? I play!”

I love what I do for “work.”¬†Designing logos, books, ads and packaging; brainstorming with clients; and the thrill¬†of¬†seeing the first piece off the press is more¬†exciting than an exotic¬†vacation (sometimes just as expensive when there’s a typo).

I hope you enjoy what you do, whatever it is. If you don’t, do something else. We do have that choice. If you need some inspiration please contact me. I am grateful that I get to enjoy the earning part of¬†earning a living, and I’m happy to share how it’s possible for anyone else.

I love work so much, in fact, I’m going to work on my tan at the pool¬†this Labor Day weekend.

Happy Labor Day!

#1 Art & Design

#1 Art & Design

#1 Art & Design
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.

This is the piece that launched AmperArt: #1 Art & Design.

It was created as a postcard concept to¬†showcase my graphic design talent¬†‚ÄĒ¬†specifically¬†concept, layout, lettering,¬†typography & execution¬†‚ÄĒ¬†to agencies &¬†marketing departments.

AmperArt Issues

I never did commence¬†that postcard campaign, but did post the first few designs on an early blog.*¬†After receiving a lot of positive comments I realized there are a lot of ampersand fans out there (I call them amperfans) so decided to create more of these layouts,¬†each featuring “the ampersand as fun & fabulous art,” as the slogan now professes. After more exhuberant¬†response, I created a website dedicated just to the ampersand, AmperArt.com, vowing¬†to create &¬†release one AmperArt design per month. I keep all the original artwork safely in a “digital vault” so it can be reproduced at its original size, usually 20″ x 30″, should anyone ever ask for a¬†large giclee to hang on their wall, or if I ever get the crazy urge¬†to exhibit the AmperArt collection in a gallery. For now, though, each creation is¬†formatted into an 11″ x 17″ poster, issued free with each release. The files are high resolution, suitable for gallery-quality printing. Here are some printing &¬†framing ideas.

Concept for #1 Art & Design

The idea¬†behind #1 Art & Design is to represent¬†the¬†fundamental shapes & colors in art: “art” is spelled with circles, triangles & squares (actually a cropped rectangle and a 4-sided trapezoid for added interest). The colors are primaries and secondaries, with neutrals for the type and background. The word “design” is simply what I do best in the world of design: set type. I chose Helvetica, as it is not only been the most common sans-serif family for decades, it is truly beautiful in its simplicity and modern structure, especially in the hands of a professional typographer (no example of that here except in darn¬†good kerning). Complementing Helvetica is another modern typestyle of the serif variety, Century Schoolbook. Why are the shapes not given a dimensional shadow effect (which would seem to be a given)? Because the ampersand is the star of the show!

AmperArt: shorten that name

AmperArt started as “Ordinary Phrases & Ampersands Extraordinaire”¬†‚ÄĒ in short,¬†common phrases with an ampersand in the middle. That will be the format I follow for my monthly series,¬†to be rendered &¬†issued until I can no longer push a pencil or paint a pixel. Kind of a long url, don’t you think? So I came up with AmperArt. (AmpArt is shorter and cooler but it sounds like an inked up¬†sound system; plus I think it was taken.)

I have also created a few other pieces which are not phrases, such as Ampermations (shown here). Eventually I may design¬†a line of greeting cards (featuring the ampersand, of course), apparel (probably just T-shirts), jewelry,¬†&¬†create¬†objets d’ amperart¬†for sale¬†on the website¬†&¬†perhaps in gift shops. I’d like to promote other artists & designers, too¬†‚ÄĒ as long as their work contains an ampersand.

But for now, AmperArt is¬†just a free monthly dose of “the ampersand as fun & fabulous art.” I hope¬†you resonate with one of these pieces every so often, whether in topic, style, color, or story. Or¬†maybe you’ll enjoy every single one, simply because you’re a¬†fun & fabulous “amperfan.”

*Art & Design is not my actual first concept¬†leading up to AmperArt; that was Sunny & Hot, published June 23, 2011 on my personal blog (defunct) before I turned the concept of “featuring the ampersand as fun & fabulous art”¬†into a series. It was followed by Black & White (the basis of most visual ideas), then Red White & Blue (for Independence Day).¬†Art & Design was then created as a “title piece” to introduce the new ongoing project¬†called AmperArt &¬†its website, AmperArt.com. I renumbered the first several¬†works for logistics¬†reasons. Art & Design was actually the third or fourth design I created in the series. My first creation, Sunny & Hot, was inspired by a very hot day in the beginning of summer way back in 2011. It is assigned #6 in the series.

National Ampersand Day


After submitting a request to NationalDayCalendar.com, I am proud to announce¬†Ampersand Day is official. At my suggestion, it is observed on September 8 of each year. I chose that date because most of the letters and number can be twisted (with a bit of creative license) into an ampersand.¬†Here’s a list of ideas how you can celebrate National Ampersand Day. Let me know if you can¬†think of others.

chaz sez ...

I think I’ll have to send out those AmperArt¬†postcards as originally intended, to market my talent to the agencies and corporations which recognize and hire the work of a professional designer. Lately I’ve been finding it more difficult to find work over the Internet, especially through the creative agencies such as Elance and Upwork.

The computer is a boon in the creative realm: no more inky logos; no more waiting for veloxes and stats; the ability to kern my own typography; direct-to-press efficiency; and free, instantaneous delivery of artwork over the Internet instead of expensive courier services.

On the other hand, where it seemed magical to cater to clients half way around the world in real time (even if it meant setting the alarm clock for 3 a.m.) the Internet is now inviting competition from third-world countries. I¬†am now competing with “designers” whose work is sub-par and whose rates are as low as $1 per hour. No exaggeration. The worst part is that the clients that hire these amateurs don’t know any difference; the price is so attractive they don’t realize it’s hurting their brand’s image and credibility.

Most of my proposal writing¬†these days is spent demonstrating the difference between mediocre¬†and acceptable¬†design (let alone stellar design) and trying to convey the value of perceived quality, whether on a concious¬†or subconcious level. Here’s a compilation of horrendous logos¬†produced by one of the “professional design firms” on these online “creative” agencies.

Off to buy some postage stamps…

Production notes for #1 Art & Design:
Original size: 20×30¬†inches
Program: Adobe Photoshop
Fonts: Helvetica, Century Schoolbook
Ampersand: Century Schoolbook

For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#3 Black & White

3 Black & White

#3 Black & White
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.

The basis of most design is black & white. Of initial sketches, anyway. (I always use a black pen & usually scribble on a white napkin.)

Black is my very favorite color‚ÄĒ& yes, it is a color. So is white. How is it so that black & white are both colors, you ask? & what about the popular (but erroneous) theory that states black & white are not colors? Read “chaz sez” below.

Black & White, my third AmperArt piece, is probably when I decided to create a series. One per month, more if inspiration hits & time allows. [Update: As of April 2017 and the 100th issue, at least one AmperArt edition has been released per month, albeit sometimes just minutes before the calendar flips to a new month.]

Some editions are full color, some grayscale, a few just black & white. Many contain an ampersand that is custom-drawn as part of the main image. Others feature type to convey the character & meaning. Some rely on the ampersand itself to carry the message. You can always see the current AmperArt release on the home page of AmperArt.com. Or see them all here.

If you are interested in the creative process of each piece, scroll to the bottom & read the production notes.

Please tell your friends (especially ampersand fans) to visit AmperArt.com. Once they subscribe, they will receive AmperArt #3, Black & White, as well as the premiere edition, AmperArt #1, Art & Design, to start their own collection.

listen up!Back is a color! Not the absence of color, nor the combination of all colors. It is color. So is white. So why do people say it’s all the colors or no color? Because they don’t know the definition of color. “Color” means the description of the hue, value & tone. Pure yellow is a color that has a hue somewhere between orange & green on the color wheel, a very light value (high-key, or very bright compared to very dark such as navy blue), & minimal tone (grayishness; mauve & sage green have medium tone).

The color black is defined by no hue (red, yellow, blue, etc.), the darkest value, & zero tone. White is defined by no hue, the lightest value, & zero tone. So you see, black & white have no hue & no tone, but they are both colors.

If you want to have some fun with all the other colors, check out the Crayola website, especially the history & the Crayola Experience where kids (including big kids) get to play & create among all things Crayola, & see how they are made. If you can’t make it to the factory in Easton, Pennsylvania, watch this video: How Crayolas Are Made.

I love Crayolas. (I won’t use any other brand; the colors aren’t as pure, they’re waxy & they just aren’t Crayola.) I remember when the box of 64 premiered, with the awesome Built-In Sharpener. I probably have the few stubs that are left of my original set somewhere, but today I have The Ultimate Crayola Collection‚ÄĒ152 different colors!‚ÄĒon my desk. I use them frequently, & always to sign important legal documents. For that task, of course, it’s Crayola Blue Green.

Original size: 10√ó15 inches
Program: Photoshop (I have no idea why I didn’t create this one in Illustrator)
Fonts: Kabel, Broadway
Ampersand: Broadway, modified