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Microsoft Creative Nostalgia

Chris (Simpsons artist) and other creatives pay their respects to the great, quaint Microsoft Paint


By Katie Deighton, Senior Reporter

July 24, 2017 | 11 min read

UPDATE: Paint is not dead! After Microsoft picked up on the "incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia around MS Paint", it confirmed in a blog post last night that "MS Paint is here to stay, it will just have a new home soon, in the Windows Store where it will be available for free."

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A tribute from John McCarthy, The Drum's artist in residence

Microsoft Paint, the 20th century software that transformed all PC owners into bad graphic designers, looks to have found itself on the chopping block of Windows innovation.

Bill Gates’ empire today (24 July) announced the rudimentary creative tool to be part of a list of 'features that are removed or deprecated in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update'.

The news has been met by a surprising outcry from anyone who ever used the spray can tool or fashioned a dodgy head swap on Paint. No industry, however, is more devastated than the creative population – particularly the art directors who developed an early love for flat colour and 3D rendering via the software.

Pat Hines (Captain Redblood)

Hines is one of a select group of artists who use Paint as their primary medium. He taught himself to use the software to create true works of art after realising that he “sucked at Photoshop” and went on to illustrate his entire novel – Camp Redblood and the Essential Revenge – with the digital paintbrush and bucket.

Bill Gates

“My initial reaction to the news was panic – imagine working for years using only watercolours only to have every watercolour manufacturer announce they're discontinuing it as a medium! I do have several versions of Paint saved though, so I should be okay. Now I'm really just sad that it won't be available for kids who use it as a training ground for digital art.

As long as I keep my computers in good working order (I have a couple with different versions of the programme) my work will continue as usual. I can't imagine using another programme at this point. It's the one I enjoy the most.

I think a lot of people are fond of the program because of its simplicity. It's a great way to get started in digital art before moving into more complex programs. On the other hand, people who aren't artists have always used it to create simple, usually jokey stuff like memes and such. And of course there is a handful of artists who work exclusively in Paint like I do.

When you look at sites like Imgur and Reddit you can see how significant the program has been. I mentioned memes; it's just always been a great programme if you want to fire off a quick illustration to post on social media. For me personally it's been integral to getting my work noticed."

Chris (Simpsons artist)

Chris (Simpsons artist) likes illustrating and annotating pictures for his 1.3 million fans on Facebook. As much life lessons as artworks, his drawings never fail to examine the truth.

Train simpsons

"i am quite sad that bill gates the microsoft prince has decided to kill ms paint and when i saw bill gates on my television this morning he was walking around outside of his house holding up ms paints head and laughing and he was shouting i told you i would kill him and it was actually quite frightening to have a watch of.

i havent had a use of microsoft paint for about 5 years but it is what i started out using to have a draw on so i will always hold it close inside of my heart.

i think that people are just sad about it because we have all grown up with ms paint in our lives and it is quite like a uncle dying if your uncle was shaped like a computer and you could draw on his face

i think that if it wasnt for ms paint then the creative online world would be a lot less full of such imagination and it is because of using ms paint as children that so many artists started out on their journey along the road of creativity and that is such a beautiful thing so thank you ms paint for all that you have given us and we will always remember you."

[As a sidenote, when The Drum asked Chris (Simpsons artist) to describe his work, he said: "one time when i got a taxi the taxi driver asked me what my job was and i said to him that i was a artist and he said what type of art work do you do and i couldnt think of any words to have a describe of it so i just made a sound to describe it to him and it was a type of high pitch scream with a low thick deep ending that got quieter and louder at the same time and a old man who was walking past the taxi when i was doing it nearly fainted because he said that he had never heard of a sound quite like it before."]

David Felton

Freelance creative Felton, is less saccharine about the loss of MS Paint.

David Felton

"I'm not sure why anyone would particularly care: the first thing any aspiring creative does is pledge to pick up Photoshop basics.

I think the reason this news has made such an impact is because people have fond memories of playing around on MS Paint in the Internet Explorer and dial-up modem days. So for many people it's a huge nostalgia pull, and they'll regret the passing of any bit of their 80s fantasies.

I would reassure those who are already missing Paint (apparently released in 1985) that if they can hold on until next year Ready Player One is out so they can relive their 80s nostalgia before they know it.

As for the greater trend of nostalgia in the creative industries, we've got the Flintstones appearing for Halifax, while Skeletor now feels epic for Money Supermarket. If recent marketing is anything to go by, it's a trend that we can expect to see plenty more of.

But in term of real influence, Paint was so limited as a programme that I doubt it contributed much to anyone's artistic career – apart from that Jim'll Paint it chap who is doing a wonderful job."

Which brings us onto...

Jim'll Paint It

Jim'll Paint It – the man who paints absolutely anything for anyone using MS Paint – released the following mournful statement on his Facebook page today:

Jim'll Paint It

"While this is a sad day for fans of Paint everywhere rest assured that Jim’ll Paint It will continue as usual. I have long been using the XP version on a virtual machine and will continue to do so for as long as the technology exists.

Some would argue that Paint hasn’t been the same since Windows 7 with all those superfluous undos and fancy brushes but it’s still sad to witness the final days of a graphics stalwart.

With that in mind lets have some Microsoft Paint tribute requests. As many or few words as you like."

The Twitterati

The most knowledgeable of all beings when it comes to the death of something or someone, Twitter had plenty to say on the demise of Paint, while One Minute Briefs held a special campaign in protest.

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