Ansi Art - for those initiated will need little or no explanation, an obscure art form prevalent during the heyday of online Bulletin Board Systems (BBS's). It was created using the ibm extended character sets and ansi escape codes to add color, blinking effects and sometimes animation. For an idea of how hard this was, consider that today's graphics are made using color palettes with up to millions of colors and artist control, potentially, over the appearance of each individual pixel. Ansi Graphics Artists made due with system colors, in the day 16 or less, and individual blocks in the image roughly 20x50 pixels (about the size of a capital letter in this introduction). To understand the triumph of some of these artists over these limitations, simply have a look at the Galleries. Move your mouse over an image and see a thumbnail revealing some of what the artist could see in the mind's eye. Illustrating an advantage of this form, the background for this page is taken from Ken Dahlin's "Curly Bracket" ansi, a tongue in cheek effort at the time, shows shading effects difficult to achieve with today's HTML markup language.
Perhaps the most functional use of Ansi Art was the decoration and enhancement of menus on these Bulletin Board Systems for such things as Logons/Logoffs, navigation of local and networked message bases, and the file sections. On the Gallery pages we will see some examples of these along with more pure artwork and one of the mainstays of Ansi Graphics, the BBS advertisement/welcome screens. There are also holiday commemoratives as well as cartoons and fancy signatures.
Ansi, as well as other Art, is still being made today by many fine artists in groups like ACiD and DARK. These groups were around during the heyday also and some of their work from that period is included here but, the major focus of these Galleries are the individual efforts from a time when Ansi Graphics was the universal electronic folk art.
About The Pictures - these graphics have been taken from the at least tens of thousands of signed and unsigned works that once freely circulated the BBS community. In a strange irony they are visible here in the .gif (Compuserve Graphics Interchange Format). At one time there abounded programs and techniques for converting .gif to Ansi Graphics (few of these screens that I know of ever came out very well). Turn about being fair play, the Ansi's in these galleries come back to life rendered as .gif's (and .png's). Pains have been taken to maintain color and aspect ratio (with minor enhancements and some loss due to the modern computer's difficulty in recognizing these images as computers once did) so that these works will look much as they originally did. Unfortunately, they can no longer be viewed in their native format on most computers. Those interested in doing so should consult the links page for access to information on programs to facilitate this. If any artists whose work is displayed here would prefer it be removed, please contact me. Any use of these images for commercial purposes should be accompanied by a sincere effort to contact the artist involved.