Chelsea & The City: Five reasons you should love ampersands as much as I do

Chelsea_logo

Chelsea-NecklaceIf there is one fact most people know about me, it’s that I LOVE ampersands. If there is an ampersand on a tshirt, on a wall, on a sign, in a window – anywhere near me I will make sure you see it. Like most people, I started using them so I didn’t have to type out the whole word “and” & it was a cute little symbol to throw into a boring sentence full of letters. As I started using them more & more they really started to grow on me. But they weren’t just symbolizing a lazy way to type “and” anymore. Ampersands started to become a symbol of my love for design & motivation for my passion. I might seem crazy, but let me explain why I think everyone should love them as much as I do.

1. They inspire me

One day when I was Googling ampersands (because everyone does that, right?) I came across a blog called 300&65 that posted one ampersand everyday for a year. Basically ampersand heaven. I started going through the pages & became instantly inspired. Every ampersand was different from the next. The shapes they created were beautiful, the detail of each curve, every edge really caught my attention. Maybe an overused cliché – but beauty is in the details & these ampersands sparked my creativity.

2. They remind me there’s always more

The thought that the symbol literally means “and” always pushes me to go farther. I have an ampersand sitting next to my computer and when I’m working on a design, it always catches my eye & makes me think “& what else, Chelsea?” A huge thing I have learned at my job is to never just design a page one way & call it good. What else you can do? You can have this design & this design & this design &…

The thought challenges me to keep creating.

3. They have a personality

Sure there are classic ampersands like Helvetica, but the ones I really love are the hand-drawn, one-of-a-kind, specialty ampersands. They remind me that I don’t need to be a cookie-cutter designer. I don’t need to make my designs look a certain way except for my way. Interjecting your personality is what makes designs great – not just copying what’s already been done. Add your own little pizzazz, don’t just be Helvetica.

4. They symbolize a transformation

Ampersands can be traced back to the first century AD. They started as a ligature of the letters e & t together – “et” meaning “and” in Latin. Some ampersands today you can still see the e & t together, which I love. It has come so far from a simple e & t to a very stylized and recognizable symbol today. Some say it made it loose it’s meaning, but to me it’s the symbolization of transformation throughout life. We are always transforming. As designers, journalists, people – we are on a journey towards something greater, changing & being molded along the way. Especially from a design perspective – styles are always changing & forming into something new.

5. Happy people = happy designers

Lastly, ampersands just make me happy & make me smile. Maybe your thing isn’t ampersands. Maybe it’s a @ or ! or // or (most likely) nothing to do with type at all. Last year for my birthday my boyfriend got me not one, but TWO ampersand necklaces (best present ever). I wear one or the other almost everyday & every time I look in the mirror it makes me feel happy inside & reminds me of how lucky I am to be pursuing my passion. Just a few weeks ago I found an ampersand at TJ Maxx that I got for my desk. It makes my days more cheery & makes me want to design.

So if you haven’t already, go Google some ampersands & be inspired!

(Chelsea Kardokus is a freelance designer for TIME magazine in New York City. See more of her work here.)