Jim’ll Paint It – “I find the simplicity reassuring”
The Creative Chair talks to Jim’ll Paint It, a man who creates bizarre vignettes with Microsoft Paint.
When I was a child, I enjoyed messing around with Microsoft Paint. Who knows, it may be what started me on the path to becoming a graphic designer. I doodled many things, but as memory serves, I never drew Brian Blessed and Goldie riding vacuum cleaners down a rainbow road in space. The same cannot be said for ‘Jim’ll Paint It’ (we’ll address the name later), who uses MS Paint to create many bizarre scenes, all suggested by the community.
A bitter washed up Sonic the Hedgehog
We caught up with Jim’ll Paint It to find out about his unusual medium.
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Fawlty Towers in zero gravity
When did you first start using Microsoft Paint, and, why have you chosen to stick with MS Paint as your weapon of choice?
I first used Paint when I was about 10 years old. Years before we had a computer in our house I was playing around with it on the school computers – big, ugly beige boxes with CRT monitors deep as they were wide that could just about run Encarta and Paint.
Sir Ben Kingsley having a shit time at Pontins
Then it kept popping up throughout my life. I actually first got talking to my wife online because she liked my Paint doodles so I feel indebted to it for many reasons. I find the simplicity reassuring. There’s less to think about. Less cerebral obstacles between the idea and the execution.
It’s the year 3998. Everybody else in the world is dead, except for Ken Barlow and his creation Robo-Deirdre 4000
You don’t have to think about gradients, feathering, layers or anything like that you just paint and if you make a mistake, rub it out and try again.
The Teletubbies in North Korea
What was your day job before this became your full-time vocation?
I was doing typography and design for a small publishing company. Nothing really arty. Mainly just moving around large blocks of text and making tweaks to cover designs. Paint was my escape from the rigidity and tedium associated with programmes like InDesign and Illustrator. Jim’ll Paint It happened because I would paint quick pictures for my friends during my lunch break.
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There’s some pretty bad press associated with the name ‘Jim’ll’, but you’ve stuck with it! Are you of the mind that any publicity is good publicity?
A common misconception is that I chose it before the whole Yewtree thing happened and stuck to my guns regardless. But really I picked it in deliberately poor taste thinking that maybe just my friends and a few people on a message board would ever see it.
I never expected to get even 600 Facebook followers let alone 600,000. Too late to change it now and to be honest I rarely think about the origin of the name. I’d like to think it’s enough of its own thing.
There’s a new version of MS Paint coming out now. Is this going to be a new chapter for Jim or are you going to stay old-school?
I don’t even use the current version of Paint now. I use the Windows XP version and will be sticking with that for all my Jim’ll Paint It stuff, at least. I’m happy with the style I’ve developed. It’s fairly distinctive, and I think the dated medium is a big part of that. If I start adding anti-aliasing, brushes and whatever else it’ll just end up looking like everyone else’s art.
What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve ever been asked to paint?
My ability to recognise weirdness went out of the window years ago. After reading the first 20,000 or so requests your brain moves the goalposts. Nowadays the ones that freak me out are when people ask for something totally banal like ‘a funny scene from Friends’ or ‘a Vauxhall Astra’.
Mick Jagger disappointing customers at the paint mixing station in B&Q by matching every colour as black
And finally, if you died and got reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?
Probably the theme tune from Super Mario 64. Windows XP isn’t the only outdated technology I’ve had a hard time letting go of. And it’s such a happy wee tune.