Keyboard Art

I’ve been working with ASCII Art again this year. It’s been awhile since I was active in the old ASCII art groups or wrote about it for WZ.com as a newsletter. I can’t even find a mention of my ASCII art section with the Wayback for WZ.com. Anyway, too long ago to keep track of I guess. ASCII art itself is considered pretty old fashioned in the evolving world of online art/ digital illustration. I miss it. Those days before HTML email and Flash on websites. ASCII art gave the Internet images without clogging up the loading speed for email or web pages. It was nice. The irony is that we have so much faster speeds now but it really doesn’t load much faster than I remember from 10 years ago with a 14K modem. The bloated files slow it down.

ASCII art is basically keyboard art, text art, created with the characters on the standard computer keyboard. The letters, numbers and range of punctuation available at the touch of your fingertips. Some people use more characters and create ANSI art. I’ve always felt that was a bit of a cheat, adding more characters takes away the challenge of sticking to the limits set by the keyboard.

Back when IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was popular people used the ASCII Art to add images to their lines of chat. Using some Java and some HTML they created ASCII pictures in colour. The downside was that they used ASCII art, coloured it and then claimed it as their own work. This caused friction between the original artists and the colourists. The artists didn’t want their work reclaimed, with the artist initials removed (forgotten). The colourists said they just wanted to make pretty pictures. Of course, I’m a bit biased.

ASCII art began with typewriters, before the computer age. If you search online you can find some examples for typewriter art.

I’ve been using my own ASCII Art (old and new) as well as the art of others on my blog, Word Grrls.

3 thoughts on “Keyboard Art

  1. What you call block is ANSI art to me. Then there is line art and greyscale. Greyscale was using shadowing/ shades – you’re calling it newschool. I don’t understand the difference between oldschool and mainstream, they both look like line art to me. We didn’t sort them as being different just because one was a logo for a game and the other was a picture/ drawing. Funny how new people get into it and want to change the labels. I think everyone wants to feel they brought something new to it.

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