Q: How did you first find ASCII art, ANSI art, Twitter art or text art? Which style came first for you?
I remember seeing ascii or text art appear in some old-school programs on my Apple IIgs family computer that I grew up with back in the 80s. Since graphics were limited, a lot of these sorts of images appeared in games and educational software. I didn’t come across twitter art until about two years ago. I met a friend in my Color class who was facebook friends with New York City artist Larry Carlson, who claims to have invented the #twitterart hashtag. I began studying the posts that would appear in this hashtag, from a wide range of people from all over the world. I was entranced by this new language of expression through images and something about lining up the characters in 140 blocks was highly appealing to me. One very boring winter just before I started school, I would spend hours a day creating these little text arts or twitter arts, and after a few months of this, instead of taking two hours or more just to make one, I could bang them out in five minutes or less. It seemed like a useless hobby at the time, but I think that learning this skill has given me an advantage in my design classes, especially when working with the grid.
Q: What was helpful for you when you started creating text art? Any mentors, FAQ’s or other tutorials or guides?
I remember asking advice from Tom, also known as @140artist on twitter, who gave me a few tips and secrets. Back then, the first line of text on twitter started after your name, so it didn’t line up exactly with the other lines. This was my biggest problem, because what looked like it lined up right in the input box would look very different once you had posted it. Tom gave me the hint to put the hashtags first. Now that twitter has been remodeled, this is no longer necessary as every first line begins on the line below our names now.
Q: What tools do you use?
I use the Special Characters Map that was built into my MacBook Pro.
Q: Do you use a fixed width font or have particular fonts you especially like to work with?
I haven’t played around with different fonts much, as I only really got into this on twitter, which only uses one standard font.
Q: I hadn’t known about creating text art on different systems but now discovered PETSCII and AtariSCII. Have you experimented with a few of these, beyond the standard Windows Notepad?
Nope, haven’t used any program of any sort. Just the characters map and the twitter palate.
Q: Do you turn your art into an image file to display it or rely on HTML code or something else to keep text art formatted?
I have not used either of these methods as yet. For one or two pieces, I used the ‘Grab’ tool in my Mac to take a snapshot of the twitter art post, to post it as a picture on facebook, as the text art doesn’t line up the same on facebook as it does on twitter. But for the most part, I just create it in the twitter input box and hit the send button.
Q: Is it important to you to have set definitions and guidelines as to what is ASCII art, what is ANSI art and etc.? How do you decide which is which for yourself?
I’m honestly not that educated on the definitions. I just did it for fun and learned a new language in the process, which I don’t fully understand but enjoy greatly.
Q: Do you keep an archive of your art? If so, please include the link(s).
Right now I have a word processing and .pdf file storing about 2,000 pieces of text art I have made on twitter. A friend of mine, John the Baker, who has his own punk band and hired me to create a CD cover for his new album with my twitter art, has suggested that I publish it as a book on twitter art. I may do that someday when I’m not so busy trying to earn a college degree.