By Nicole Gennarelli
School of Visual Communication Design alumnus Phillip Pastore created AMPERGRAM, a website which allows people to create typographic compositions using Instagram photos.
Pastore, ’05, participated in the five year combined degree program which allowed him to graduate with a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication Design at the same time. Previously, he has worked at Glyphix, the Kent State student-staffed design studio as well and done work for many freelance clients. Before Pastore’s recent move to New York, he worked at The Adcom Group, an advertising agency in Cleveland where he worked on projects dealing with animated motion graphics and 3D modeling, in addition to designing and developing Flash animations and web applications.
Pastore’s inspiration behind AMPERGRAM was sparked because he found it interesting that a photo, which tells its own story, can create a new message when it’s combined with different letters from other photos. Essentially, the AMPERGRAM database consists of single letters or number images which Instagram users upload and tag with #ampergram. By using that hashtag, users give AMPERGRAM permission to use their photos on the website and mobile application. If users want a more personal result, they can tag their own photos on Instagram and use those in their AMPERGRAM creation.
“While I was developing AMPERGRAM I thought of several use-cases, one being if the user was to create a message for their significant other stating ‘I love you’. At a glance, the message is received and that could be the extent of the experience. However, upon further review, the recipient notices that each of the letters has been taken from one of their favorite establishments during their relationship; a letter from a restaurant, club or movie theater, all recognizable on their own, but now capable of incorporating a message with further meaning,” said Pastore. “In a similar example, having recently moved to Brooklyn from Cleveland, I can have an AMPERGRAM on my apartment wall spelling out BROOKLYN but each letter is captured from locations in Cleveland. I now can have a deeper message that could be visually appealing for all, but more meaningful to me.”
Being the sole creator behind AMPERGRAM, Pastore has devoted all of his time and talents to creating this website.
“It has become an all-encompassing project of my abilities,” he said. “Everything from the concept, branding, overall interface and UX design, Flash development, database creation and PHP scripting, WordPress integration and customization, mobile development through Adobe AIR, and even motion graphics in order to create a promotion video for AMPERGRAM. I have been responsible for every aspect that you see in the final creation.”
Once users have created their AMPERGRAM image, they can keep it private, make it public on the website, share it to a social network, or download a desktop version of their creation.
“AMPERGRAM has permission to use the photos on the website and to promote the website and app using these photos, but I have always specified whose photos I am using in order to give credit where it is due,” said Pastore. “If users would like to download a full high resolution image of the AMPERGRAM, they can purchase it for a one dollar processing fee, which enables our servers to compile the image. If any user would like to use the photos in any other way beyond these personal means, then they would have to reach out to the Instagram user who uploaded the image in order to arrange an agreement separate from AMPERGRAM.”
The immediacy of the AMPERGRAM experience is what Pastore likes best about the website’s creativity.
“I like seeing the letters drop in place the moment I type a letter,” he said. “I like the functionality that the process can be as simple as typing a name and saving or as advanced and typing a poem that is filtered by color and then cycle through each letter option to find the perfect solutions. I love seeing people from all over the world using AMPERGRAM for meaningful heartfelt messages as well as uploading their own photos. It is amazing to see so many people enjoying what AMPERGRAM can create.”
Recently, AMPERGRAM was even featured on the Favourite Website Awards (FWA) web page as the website of the day. According to FWA’s website, it is “an industry recognized internet award program and inspirational portal, established in May 2000.”
“The FWA has been a huge inspiration to me as a Flash designer and developer,” said Pastore. “For close to ten years I have seen what the best agencies and individuals have been creating using Flash and other innovative web technologies. It is an honor to now be included in such a prestigious collection of creative works.”
Pastore gives credit to the courses, experiences, and mostly, the professors at Kent State in VCD for preparing him for his career after graduation.
“Because of the practices I learned in the program, I have been able to keep focused on developing my skills independently,” he said. “My goal is to never stop learning, and I am constantly taking on the challenge of new techniques and programming languages to make my offerings as strong as possible. This drive has clearly fueled AMPERGRAM as well as other personal projects. The best advice I can give about pursuing a dream, is to take on any personal project you can think of and see it through. I never thought AMPERGRAM would grow to the popularity that it has, but it has opened doors for me that I would not have had the opportunity to otherwise. Anything that you can create, do it; get it out there and see what happens. This process has helped me get closer to my dream.”