#1 Art & Design
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This is the piece that launched AmperArt: #1 Art & Design.
It was created as a postcard concept to showcase my graphic design talent — specifically concept, layout, lettering, typography & execution — to agencies & marketing departments.
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” — 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 — 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 & the numeral 8 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.
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, competing with crap agencies such as Elance and Upwork, who attract bargain-basement clients and amateur “designers.”
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 postcard stamps…
Production notes for #1 Art & Design:
Original size: 20x30 inches
Program: Adobe Photoshop
Fonts: Helvetica, Century Schoolbook
Ampersand: Century Schoolbook
For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.