Deviations and deviants

Not doing my homework and spending most of my time in front of the screen was my digital teenage rebellion. The first couple of years on "the Internet" were mostly spend on mIRC (the old man's discord). My Supra modem was working tirelessly converting phone analog signals to zeros and ones. Websites were few, scattered on the "cyberspace" (another buzz word, first mentioned in __book). In 1997 there were even books published as an Internet index, very much like a telephone index ( The one on the link has 1226 pages!). On the other hand, the first internet advocates were flocking by hundreds in the IRC servers. "I knew no one and no one knew me". Yet another restart, as if i were back in the summer camp. It wasn't until 1999 that i took a break from the chatting rooms (#hellas) and decided to look around for other designers and photoshop tutorials ( upcoming article "digital art scene" ).

There was an underlaying current and it was one of the main motivation for people to start learning photoshop - It was the need for customisation. Digital art had inherit an application - a way for everyone to experience. Everyday computer users were customising their digital desktop with beautiful wallpapers, matching icons and window colours. (Or even painting their setup with an actual spray can). New Winamp "skins" were created daily. Creating a "skin" for an application is not easy job. Usually, tens of different images should be created and all pixel perfect to fit the application's layout. Pay a visit to the Winamp Skin Museum. Noobs were making buttons by applying the Bevel effect, whilst the OGs custom designing every shadow, reflection and texture. Young designers including myself were motivated to learn and get familiar with GUI Design (Im not sure if UX design was a valid job description back then); including testing, prototyping, sharing and promoting their work for everyone to download. I was never able to fully create a skin for Winamp.

"Astral Pancakes" - Photoshop and 3D Studio. My first wallpaper upload on DeviantArt. 25 Mar 2001

However, making wallpapers had the creative freedom i was looking for. I used to say to my friend "i made a new wallpaper today" - It was the equivalent of "i minted a new NFT today", referring directly to the application rather than the art side of things. It was a proud moment to know someone is using a wallpaper i designed on their desktop. 1024x768 or 1280x1024 might sound like a fraction of your smartphone screen resolution; and they were my go-to canvas sizes. All the knowledge about GUI design techniques was finding its way into all facets of digital art and design. Both in "underground" and in mainstream media. Also, having my own website seems like a very exciting prospect (link to upcoming article about

On the same time, computers were getting faster, photoshop a bit more usable, 3d studio got even more complicated, a few other 3d software were now available ( Poser, Bryce ) and applications like Soulseek (Initial release 2001 - utorrent wasn't released until 4 years later) or macromedia flash (link to flash article) were just around the corner. 

The wallpaper on the above and on the left is called "Or Else", and although after 20+ years looks like an unfortunate thing to create and not something you would like to look all day as your desktop image, i consider it to be my first try to create something similar in the style of one of my favourite deviantArt artist, "deaddreamer" and try to put everything i've learnt so far on a single piece. Retouching the image, colorise and stylise the hair, design the wings, make the background design interesting enough and so on. It does look kind of bad now that i see it, but i was pretty proud of it and confident that people will like it tool; and i think they did. Read the article about photomanips.