#161 & Per Se &

#161 & Per Se &

Okay, this is one of the weirdest titles I’ve issued—
does & per se & even mean anything?

It sure does mean some­thing! In fact, it’s what my Amper­Art series is all about. 

Chil­dren’s primer by Marin­da Bran­son Moore , pub­lished ‘1863. Vis­it web­site.

& per se &” is how we used to describe the last let­ter of the Eng­lish alpha­bet — no, not z, but fol­low­ing z — when it had 27 char­ac­ters. Yes, the Eng­lish alpha­bet was once 27 let­ters long (actu­al­ly, 26 let­ters & 1 sym­bol) up until about the mid­dle of the 19th cen­tu­ry. That last char­ac­ter was none oth­er than our favorite char­ac­ter — drum­roll — the fun & fab­u­lous ampersand. 

In recit­ing the alpha­bet, after z, schoolkids would say “&, per se, &.”

Per se” means “by itself,” so the stu­dents were essen­tial­ly say­ing of the &: “…x, y, z, and, by itself, ‘and’.”

Maybe if & was still part of the alpha­bet it would have been includ­ed in allow­able sym­bols for urls. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the amper­sand & sev­er­al oth­er use­ful glyphs (such as # and +) can­not be used in a url, but they should be. I can’t even use the amper­sand in the names of Amper­Art posts, such as would be “amper​art​.com/​#​1​6​3​-​&​-​p​e​r​-​s​e-&” or “amper​art​.com/​l​a​u​r​e​l​-​&​-​h​a​rdy.” I have to set­tle for “amper​art​.com/​1​6​3​-​p​e​r​-​se-” or “amper​art​.com/​l​a​u​r​e​l​-​h​a​rdy.” And many com­pa­nies can’t even dis­play their names accu­rate­ly in a url, such as “good&plenty,com” or “arm&hammer.com.”

Why is it called an ampersand?

Say “& per se &” 50 times real fast & you’ll see (or hear) how it even­tu­al­ly slurred into the sound “amper­sand” – & stuck, as the name for the sym­bol that was once part of the alpha­bet. It may have fall­en off the ABC’s but today is part of near­ly every large law firm; is short­hand for “and;” is heav­i­ly used in name brands (don’t miss the post cel­e­brat­ing Nation­al Good & Plen­ty Day in Octo­ber); and, of course, the fun & fab­u­lous lit­tle squig­gle inspired this Amper­Art series.

World Ampersand Day is September 8 and this is why:

Mostly ampersands!

It was appar­ent sev­er­al of the char­ac­ters in “Sep­tem­ber 8” can be clev­er­ly dis­guised as amper­sands when cer­tain fonts are used, as shown above. Read about World Amper­sand Day (& for you typophiles, see the call­out of fonts in the above graph­ic) here:


Here’s a ver­sion of The ABC Song on YouTube. Two things amaze me about this. First, in every ver­sion it is sung as if lmnop is the name of one sin­gle let­ter. You prob­a­bly grew up singing it like that, and so did I. Now I know why — that’s how it’s sung on YouTube. (Gotcha! There was no YouTube when I was grow­ing up.) Why are kids taught to sing it like that? It’s absurd. Sec­ond, lis­ten close­ly (if you can get through the hideous song) & you’ll hear not one, but two amper­sands — nei­ther, of course, at the end, as a 27th char­ac­ter. It goes “A B C D E F G H I J K lmnop Q R S T U & V W X Y & Z…”

Concept & design

161 original design

This Amper­Art piece went through a cou­ple iter­a­tions. The orig­i­nal con­cept, above or at left, was the fin­ished design (so I thought), com­plet­ed a week ahead of World Amper­sand Day, 2020. 

But then I had an idea for some addi­tion­al, rel­e­vant design which I am very sat­is­fied with (& proud of). Got that done, too (it’s the fin­ished piece fea­tured in this post, which you can down­load here for framing). 

I believe if a bet­ter idea comes along, at least try it. I won’t set­tle for design that is real­ly, real­ly good when it can be per­fect. That’s one thing I admire about my idol, Walt Dis­ney. He would scrap a near-​finished project so he could start over with the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy or a bet­ter concept.

In this case, the back­ground you see in this first iter­a­tion is just a fan­cy pat­tern. I real­ized, hey, this is about the amper­sand end­ing the alpha­bet, so why not include the first 26 let­ters too? It turned into a very enjoy­able task of cre­at­ing true graph­ic design with typog­ra­phy, one of my favorite types of art. True, that usu­al­ly means com­mer­cial art, but at least to my eyes it’s still art. (I admit I can’t draw more than a stick figure.)

Cre­at­ing the design for #161 And Per Se And took awhile due to the revi­sions, but noth­ing com­pared to try­ing to write the sto­ry, try­ing to explain what the title means. 

On top of that, a few days before release date I hit a record for con­cur­rent con­tin­gen­cies (air con­di­tion­er quit com­plete­ly & pow­er black­out due to heat wave) & emer­gen­cies (cat was pant­i­ng way too hard) as the heat wave hit 110 degrees. I just could­n’t fin­ish writ­ing the sto­ry by 6am Sep­tem­ber 8, Nation­al Amper­sand Day.

So here it is, Amper­Art #161, cel­e­brat­ing the fun & fab­u­lous amper­sand with the ori­gin of its pro­nun­ci­a­tion, & per se &. Issued one year lat­er. With the fin­ished new design. Before any emer­gen­cies post­pone it again.

National Ampersand Day Logo

This is the offi­cial logo for Nation­al Amper­sand Day, designed by Chaz DeS­i­mone for Nation­al Day Calendar.

Dear amper­sand fans, thank you for check­ing out Amper­Art, my month­ly project which takes a com­mon phrase (okay, & per se & isn’t that com­mon), adding some art­work, & turn­ing the whole thing into a cel­e­bra­tion of the fun & fab­u­lous amper­sand. If you haven’t sub­scribed yet, head over here.

Cel­e­brate World Amper­sand Day here!

Production notes for #161 & Per Se &:
Original size: 20x30 inches

Program: Adobe Illustrator
Fonts, text: Garamond, Helvetica 
Font, ampersand: Garamond (rotated but not distorted)
Primer: https://​doc​south​.unc​.edu/​i​m​l​s​/​m​o​o​r​e​/​m​e​n​u​.​h​tml
Alphabet song: YouTube https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​7​5​p​-​N​9​Y​K​qNo
Note: &” replaces “and” in most or all text, including quotations, headlines & titles.
You may repost the image & article. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster suitable for printing & framing, click on the image.

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