GlyphDrawing.Club, designed and developed by Heikki Lotvonen and Ian Tuomi, is an online text art and modular design editing tool. “It’s inspired by the limitations and possibilities of old-school ASCII art editors” – or, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a character encoding standard for electronic communication, often used to make text-based visual art – “brought to modern times,” Heikki tells It’s Nice That. “The editor is based on an adjustable grid into which typographic symbols can be inserted from any font. It’s best suited to creating modular type design, illustrations, ASCII art, concrete poetry and more.”
Heikki had the idea for GlyphDrawing.Club when he was researching text and ASCII art for his BA thesis at Aalto University, Helsinki. “As a graphic designer, I was fascinated by the method of using letters and other typographic symbols, not for writing, but for creating elaborate typographic mosaics that formed images, logotypes and other graphic elements”, he says. Heikki wanted to work in the tradition of ASCII art editors, but without the restrictions associated with older computers – “like fixed cell sizes, few font options and restricted colour palettes”. “I wanted an editor that could utilise this method of creating text art but could also be used with any font and have a highly configurable grid, expanded features and vector export,” he explains.
It was during her MA at the Sandberg Institut, Amsterdam that he realised the first edition of the editor, and at the launch, invited people to submit drawings, text and experiments for a collaborative zine. “I made a 100-page, Risograph-printed zine, which works as a manual and a brochure filled with amazing work from 27 artists worldwide.” But his plans for GlyphDrawing.Club are far from complete: “I want to continue developing the editor until it’s fully feature-rich. The next step is to incorporate colour tools, to create a gallery where people could submit their creations, to design more text art fonts and to make many smaller features and improvements.”
“Text art and ASCII art are still relatively unknown forms of art and design, maybe precisely because of the lack of tools for making it,” Heikki says. “With GlyphDrawing.Club, I hope to provide an easy and accessible way for people to create, experiment and have fun with text art. I would especially love to see poets find my tool and use it for their art!”
About the Author
Billie studied illustration at Camberwell College of Art before completing an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. She joined It’s Nice That as a Freelance Editorial Assistant back in January 2015 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis.