#10 Crazy & Different

AmperArt #10 Crazy & Different

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.

Upon read­ing of Steve Jobs’ pass­ing, I felt almost the same way as I did on Decem­ber 15, 1966…

As I was fold­ing papers for my paper route, the head­line caught my eye:


I went numb and cried. Both Dis­ney and Jobs were vision­ar­ies, cre­ative genius­es, demand­ing per­fec­tion­ists, and they both died much too young.

My first lap­top was the very first Tita­ni­um G3 – it couldn’t even burn a cd, it was such an ear­ly mod­el. (I’ve since learned to wait for ver­sion 2 or 3.) I was so proud of that thing. It was the ulti­mate in styl­ish design. I didn’t even care if there was a com­put­er inside the case, it was just beau­ti­ful to look at. That’s what I appre­ci­ate most about Steve – he made every­thing with class, from the way it works to the way it looks and feels, even down to the mar­ket­ing and advertising.


M‑I-​C… See how insane­ly great this world is today.

K‑E-Y…Why? Because of vision­ary genius.

After Walt passed away the com­pa­ny stum­bled for awhile, but the “cast mem­bers” and fans of Dis­ney have so much soul that they got it back on its feet. We’ll always won­der what else Walt would have cre­at­ed had he lived longer, and sure­ly we won­der that about Steve. But just like Dis­ney, Apple has such a strong desire to be a class act and pro­duce class prod­ucts, sup­port­ed by its incred­i­bly loy­al fans, that Steve would prob­a­bly be proud of what his peo­ple con­tin­ue to invent and polish.

I designed this poster hon­or­ing Steve Jobs, as a spe­cial edi­tion in my Amper­Art poster series.

The words are straight from of one of Steve’s speeches.

No doubt Walt and Steve are think­ing up the next insane­ly great idea in vision­ary heaven.

Production notes:
Original size: 20 x 30 inches
Program: Photoshop (coulda used Illustrator — probably started out as an entirely different concept for which Photoshop would be required)
Font: Myriad (Apple’s marketing font family)
Ampersand: Myriad, sans one delicious byte

#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 — specif­i­cal­ly con­cept, lay­out, let­ter­ing, typog­ra­phy & exe­cu­tion — 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, Amper​Art​.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, Amper​Art​.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 Nation​al​Day​Cal​en​dar​.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.

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, 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.

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 — & 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 Amper​Art​.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 Amper​Art​.com. Once they sub­scribe, they will receive Amper­Art #3, Black & White, as well as the pre­mière 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 — 152 dif­fer­ent col­ors! — on my desk. I use them fre­quent­ly, & always to sign impor­tant legal doc­u­ments. For that task, of course, it’s Cray­ola Blue Green.

Original size: 10×15 inches
Program: Photoshop (I have no idea why I didn’t create this one in Illustrator)
Fonts: Kabel, Broadway
Ampersand: Broadway, modified