Are We Here: Behind the Music

Every weekday morning for three years I drove Oliver to Colonel Gray Senior High School. When we arrived at the school, I would text his educational assistant–usually Dave, but sometimes Jill or Laura or Maritza—so that they’d know to come outside and fetch him to go on their morning constitutional.

We are here, I texted every morning like clockwork:

We Are Here, texted for several days in a row.

Oliver turned this into a stirring recitation one morning when we had a little bit of extra time to kill in the car while waiting.

When it came time to pick a subject for tonight’s Artist Trading Cards event at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, We Are Here popped into my mind as a kind of baseline statement of claim for humanity.

The times may be challenging, but we are here. So to speak.

I had a couple of 100 packs of № 1 shipping tags here in the shop, and decided to use those as a starting point (shipping tags come in standard sizes; № 1 are the smallest, at 70 mm by 35 mm).

I chose 30 point Futura Bold (acquired in 2015 from Letterpress Things) for the typeface, and Southern Ink Dense Black as the ink. I experimented with using upper and lower case, but opted for all caps for symmetry’s sake.

Shipping tags turn out to be a joy to print on: they’re nice and meaty, easy to get in and out of the press, quick to dry.

I printed 50 each of WE, ARE and HERE:

A set of HERE set out to dry.

Three piles of shipping tags, one of WE, one of ARE, one of HERE, stacked beside each other.

Three tags laid side by side, printed ARE, WE and HERE.

Once they were printed and dried, I decided that my artist trading card partners would need something to lasso their sets together, so I purchased three boxes of 1 inch silver “loose leaf rings” from Staples:

We Are Here held together by a loose leaf ring.

While I went into this project thinking WE ARE HERE, I realized, as I continued, that there are many combinations that can be made from these three words:


Mathematically, to calculate the number of permutations in this case, where there are 3 objects combined into sets of 3, you simply add up the integers from 1 to 3, so 1 + 2 + 3, to get 6 possible combinations.

I’ll be trading sets tonight at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, starting at 7:00 p.m. Unfortunately, due COVID, it’s not a public event, so you’ll have to use your imagination to recreate the thrill of the trade.


vbj's picture
vbj on August 20, 2020 - 17:17 Permalink

I love these. Inspired!

Susan White's picture
Susan White on August 21, 2020 - 13:23 Permalink

I love the way your mind works. The cards are great.