Glyph Drawing Club Gathering by Heikki Lotvonen / 7.-26.5.2019


This is your world
You’re the creator
Find freedom on this canvas
Believe, that you can do it,
‘Cuz you can do it.
You can do it.

— Bob Ross

Four years ago, Heikki Lotvonen started researching ASCII art, also known as text art since it refers to the process of creating images using typographic symbols such as letters and numbers. Outdated emoticons such as :-) are a primitive form of modern ASCII art, but text art has a long and varied history spanning hundreds of years, from arabic calligraphy and images in medieval manuscripts to typewriter art in the 20th century. The current format of ASCII art was popularised in the 1980’s on computer bulletin boards that predate the Internet.

As Lotvonen gradually grew more invested in ASCII, he noticed a lack of programs or editors for text art on modern computers. Motivated by the shortage, he created GlyphDrawing.Club, a free online editor for text art and modular design. The editor is based on an adjustable grid into which users can “draw” with a set of geometric patterns or with any typographic symbol from any font. Despite Lotvonen initially being inspired by the limitations of old school ASCII art editors, GlyphDrawing.Club has evolved to include innovations such as rotation and shape inversion. The additions enable versatile use, and GlyphDrawing.Club can be used to create anything from concrete poetry to illustrations.

The exhibition Glyph Drawing Club Gathering celebrates the one year anniversary of the editor and the release of it’s second version. During its first year, the site has gained users from around the world, and the exhibition looks to highlight this, presenting prints created from works by various artists and designers using Lotvonen’s editor. The exhibition is accompanied by the publication Glyph Drawing Club User Guide v.2.0.0., which showcases further art created on GlyphDrawing.Club and features works by 75 artists from 30 different countries. It also includes a manual, inviting readers to create their own ASCII art.

The joy of discovery and experimentation has always been at the heart of Lotvonen’s editor, with inclusivity and accessibility also playing key roles in the project. GlyphDrawing.Club is about sharing and discovering the joy of text art, and this Gathering is about the people who have made the editor their own and redefined text art in the 21st century. It is also an invitation for the viewer to take an active role and to join the growing community of a new generation of text artists.