Joan G. Stark's Original ASCII

Believe it or not, I "discovered" ASCII art in winter of 1995. I think I saw a tiny
bicycle made in ascii characters and was totally amazed by it. I joked that
someone must have had too much time on their hands! But still I was in awe
of it... I didn't even know what it was called. After e-mailing several friends, I
found out that it was called "ASCII art". It was then that I found the USENET
newsgroup <alt.ascii-art> and started lurking to find more of these computer

I then started collecting as much of the ASCII art as I could. I began
wandering through the internet and realized that there was way too much to
save. I would forget my idea of having a huge collection... I know where to find
the pictures if I want something.

Being a "crafty" type person, I decided that I would try to make the ASCII
pictures myself. I've always like to doodle on paper, so I figured it couldn't be
that much different. My first project was to make a signature for me to use. I
started diddling around with the keyboard in May/June of 1996 by doing
lettering. Someone then told me about "FIGLET". For those of you who don't
know, FIGLET is a computer program that creates fancy lettering from text.
Hearing about figlet took the thrill away from making the fonts- I could spend
an hour creating an alphabet by hand and someone else could just press a
computer key and have the letters pop up "pre-made". [FIGLET LINK]

And so I went on to the pictures... I know that there are programs available to
create ASCII art -- (I don't know that much aboutthem...) -- but the programs
usually create solid-type ASCII art. Even then, the pictures still are pretty
rough and need touch-ups to make them asthetically correct. I have collected
some conversion software information from <alt.ascii-art> and offer them to
you-- no guarantees-- [CONVERSION LINK]

I make the line-style ASCII pictures and I don't believe that there are
programs for this style. Basically I sit down at the keyboard and start typing.

OK-- so I can't consider myself a "newbie" at ASCII art any more. The
honeymoon is over! I've been making the pics since 1996. Some people
are anticipating my "burn-out"-- but I continue to make the ASCII art pictures
and I still look forward to improving. I'd like to be able to look at each of my
creations and say "wow!"-- there are some that I like a lot and there are some
that I consider "ok". Most of the crummy ones have met their demise at the
hands of the delete button. Despite this, I've included some of my early works
in this gallery so you can see how my artwork has evolved. Perhaps I may
inspire other budding ascii artists...

I am just amazed at all ASCII artwork. There are a limited number of
characters available on the keyboard and they are all fixed. Considering this
fact, it is truly remarkable that there are so many different ASCII art pictures.

I don't know how long ASCII art has been around. I've been told that it dates
back at least to the 1960s when computers consisted only of large main
frames. There were no PCs and no monitors. Transmissions were done
through terminals that were very much like electric typewriters. Games and
pictures were done in ASCII. (Remember the orignial "Zork"?) Some of the
pictures passed around then are still being passed around today.
See History of ASCII Art.

For me, the ASCII art is still pretty new ... although I remember as a kid, my
father would take me to work with him on an occasional Saturday. While
there, I would play on the secretary's typewriter and make pictures on a sheet
of paper using commas and lines-- my "first" ASCII drawings!. (I would also
link all of her paper clips together-- shhh, don't tell my dad!). I had a lot of fun
those weekend mornings... I guess you could say that I've been making text
art -- even before computers! :)

But times have changed! Gone are the typewriters, papers, and carbon
copies. I doodle as I did as a child... but now I don't need a new sheet of
paper or white-out when I make a mistake. Sigh... and my children have
already connected my paper clips together! :( But that's OK, I don't need
them! :) I just have to fight the kids for computer time!



This show a supported by Truly Virtual Web Art Museum
and is an integral original exhibit of the online museum,
graciously provided by Joan G. Stark