Teknidermy Magazine - Issue 3 , Vol. 1
March/April, 2001

A Job Called "Skinner"
by Migellito

After my conversation with Jeff Schader, he organized five other members
of the SkinWerks group for a round-table discussion. These were some of the
skin designers chosen for the Microsoft Windows Media Player 7 skinning
contract, and now remain together as designers for SkinWerks. Apparently
other projects are underway, and we should expect to see more excellent
designs from this group in times to come.
The discussion itself was relatively free-form, to better imerse oneself
in the process and relationship of the SkinWerks team. It shows their
humor, their comraderie, their (occasionally vivid) opinions, and at times
their frustration. They comprise one of the few groups of designers working
together to produce skins and interfaces, and are, to my knowledge, unique
in embodying a professional skin design company. They are paid to skin.
They work for a company whose main endeavor is to create skins. However,
they do all this without an office. No cubicles.. no water coolers.. just
this. Communication.

Tek: Hello all... and welcome. I thought we could start out with each of
you filling us in a little about yourselves. :)

Jeff Schader: Start from the top I guess, like we did with Microsoft. That
would be you, essvid.

ess-vid: I'm ess-vid and I bust heads when
appropriate.. and everyone hates me, which I love coz' I can hold it over
them :>

Gen Aku: (also known as AznRomeo) Okay, my name is Dan Vu Quoc, and I
currently reside in the heart of the silicon valley in the Bay Area,
California. I'm a senior in high school, and started doing computer graphics
with Nintendo Mario Paint.

Tek: :) The smile goes for ess too.. ;] And you Lowen?

Jeff Schader: Ok Lowen, our Swedish meatball :)

Xcaponius: Lowen is Christian.

Lowen: I'm a 20 year old male Swedish guy. I like graphics, food, booze, girls.

Tek: In that order?

Xcaponius: heh, good one.

Lowen: Yeah. No, girls first or second.

ess-vid: Prolly reverse order :>

Jeff Schader: roman, you're up.

roman: heh.. ok. I'm 20 years old and living in Los Angeles CA.

Tek: I feel old.... 33.

Jeff Schader: I'm 34 so don't feel so bad - lol, though I look young.

Tek: You don't look it ;]

Jeff Schader: You've seen me?

Tek: At Roach's Pictureland.

Gen Aku: (I) suppose I'm the youngest here at 18.

Xcaponius: Gen`Aku : nope.

Xcaponius: Jesh (Jeff Schader): he has your long hair pics :)

Tek: And you Xcaponius?

Lowen: He worships Belsebub.

Jeff Schader: :)

Xcaponius: I am a Greek teenage from Greece.. that's why I am Greek ..
Lowen thinks I am Lucifer. And no, I don't worship Belsebub.

Jeff Schader: Itıs Beazulbub.. or something.

(editors's Beelzebub)

Lowen: Not in Swedish.

Tek: I'm sure itıs Bill Z. Bub's loss...

Xcaponius: I am also the younger here.

Jeff Schader: Yeah, he's a lil' puppy.

Tek: And how old are you Xcaponius?

Xcaponius: 16

Gen Aku: <--what azn bought
with his Windows Media Player 7 moolah.

Jeff Schader: From the Microsoft contract?

Gen Aku: Yeah, well part of it.

Xcaponius: heh.. I bought a glass of water from Microsoft.

Tek: You've obviously learned a lot in your few years Xcaponius..

How do all of you work together? What kind of relationship is it?

Lowen: Is this group chat?

Xcaponius: hahahahaha

Jeff Schader: yeah

Gen Aku: ...we ... work with each other?

Xcaponius: hmmm

Gen Aku: Wait, I'd like a clarification. What do you mean by work? Like as
in skinning in general?

Tek: Yes, as in 'what -is- the group called SkinWerkz'

Lowen: ok.. Jeff is the spider in the web.. and we are his slaves.. no,
actually I like working with Jeff, SkinWerkz cause I do something I like,
and get some profit as well.

Jeff Schader: Note that, pay Lowen 20 extra dollars. :)

Lowen: heh

Xcaponius: heh.. Lowen , you're cool

Lowen: Xcaponius: yeah ;O

Gen Aku: For me skinning isn't that much of a group effort. I only work as
a group when I need help or someone else needs help, otherwise in my mind
it's each to his own.

Tek: Ah, Gen.. Is it that way for most of you? Do you work -with- each
other frequently?

Xcaponius: SkinWerkz is a bunch a graphic artists.. or skinners that get
paid to do what they like.

Gen Aku: heh.. I wanna get paid more.

Jeff Schader: Gen Aku, try McDonalds :)

Lowen: We work individually but Jeff is the feedback guy.

Xcaponius: We don't work with each other.

Gen Aku: Yeah, usually we work individually, or try to ... probably our way
of keeping our work unique. But we all feedback to Jeff.

Jeff Schader: Itıs more like they work with me.

Tek: So how do all of you see Jeff's role?

Jeff Schader: Be honest too, in your responses. You can flame me, I don't

Xcaponius: Oh we can ? Jeff sucks.

Jeff Schader: lol.. notes. Zero work for cappy.

roman: We do our stuff and Jeff has input on the final output.

Gen Aku: He's the tester....he does bug reports to us, feature requests,
and functionality/artistic touch ups. We revise one or more times, and then
we are done.

Lowen: Like if.. heh.. Jeff is the master of disaster, really.

Xcaponius: Yeah. He is Devilıs advocate.

Tek: lol

Xcaponius: Ooh

Jeff Schader: Heh.. you know I lub joo.

Xcaponius: Jeff is picky actually... which is good , 'cause it makes us try
harder.. become better, and find new techniques.

Tek: Ess? Your view of Jeff's stewardship?

ess-vid: I pull Jeff's right arm and money comes out of him.

Tek: How handy!

ess-vid: Jackpot... 1:1 odds :>

To be honest though, Jeff and I are somewhat friends... but I tend not to
mix friendship and business, as that's inevitable disaster.

Lowen: I punch his nose actually.

Tek: A couple of you have actually met Jeff, right?

Jeff Schader: They aren't here.

Gen Aku: heh I haven't =)

Jeff Schader: That would be vendicator and fathom (who) have stayed with
me. ...
Actually, fathom is coming down again to see me in December.

Gen Aku: Iıll probably die starving before December 'cause I don't work =)

Lowen: Roman: Ill dcc you some ham.

roman: heh

Tek: Many of the Windows Media Player 7 skins have a similar look and
feel.. Is that Jeff's doing? Or is it something else?

Xcaponius: ummm.. Not Jeff's doing.

Lowen: Probably inspiration.

Gen Aku: Probably Jeff and the Microsoft girl who reviewed our skins. They
had the last word.

ess-vid: I think that's my doing, I did enough of them :>

Gen Aku: That, and everyone jacked essvid's code.

Jeff Schader: Actually, for (the) Microsoft (project) they had free reign
except for things that needed to be standardized. Itıs the other freelance
contracts where there is a tighter reign, so to speak. Because you have
specific needs that need to be met for the client.

ess-vid: Yuh, that's the main thing... the format has a steep learning
curve, so most had to build on the work of Microsoft and myself.

roman: We just stole ess-vid's code.. heh

Gen Aku: By the way - I feel pathetic that my Windows Media Player 7 was
the worst skin =)

Tek: Did you share your in-process stuff with the others, ess?

Gen Aku: No need for him to share. lol

ess-vid: Yuh... Mainstreet was passed around at least 10 times during

Tek: aha... So you were the first?

ess-vid: One of... dunno about the absolute first.

Jeff Schader: They actually worked the most like a group with the Microsoft
contract. They each helped each other a lot.

Gen Aku: Mainstreet was the first completed and decent Windows Media Player
7 everyone based their js code off of it.

ess-vid: But Main is a complex skin that underwent a lot of revisions... so
less complex ones could be made based on earlier builds of it.

Lowen: is head banging to Wasted Years - Iron Maiden

Tek: Lowen: I can play that :)

Xcaponius: is head banging to meshuggah - corridor of chameleons

Lowen: migellito: excellent! :) shoutcast!!

Tek: What are all your opinions on the process itself for Windows Media
Player 7? Is it as tough as they say?

ess-vid: That depends on your attitude.

Xcaponius: I canıt even imagine how someone could do the coding.. so I
must say yes.. ess would prolly say its fun.

Gen Aku: Tough? Well, it was a bitch to learn at first, but it's a pretty
good skin format.

Lowen: Windows Media Player 7 is a great format for skinning... you can do
practically everything you want with it...

Xcaponius needed to depart soon, so I turned attention strictly toward him
for a few minutes.

Tek: Xcaponius, how did you get started in graphic work?

Xcaponius: ummm ... a friend of mine showed me Photopaint, a second proggie
from Corel. I started doing stuff for hours. Then when I got an internet
connection... I found a new world in front of me.. and new levels of graphic
art too :) I soon got into winamp skinning and that would be it.

Tek: What tools do you use now that you're a professional?

Xcaponius: The same :) Actually Photopaint is a pretty accomplished

Tek: Loyal :) What are your goals for this? Would you like this to be
your career?

Xcaponius: Not really. I believe that art should not be your main source
of income.. because then you have to work a lot of hours on it.. and lose
the interest you had when you started.

Tek: ah.. Yeah, the art becomes a job.. What career are you looking at,

Xcaponius: I don't really know. I would like to follow "applied maths and
physics" in the university though.

Tek: Will you continue skinning?

Xcaponius: Probably.... if I have enough time. If I stop skinning I will
definitely not stop making "art" or graphics .. or trying to express myself
through art. I am also into music a lot.. so skinning wouldn't be my only
concern. :)

Tek: What question would everyone else most like to ask Xcaponius?

Xcaponius: Ooo cheesy.

Jeff Schader: heh

Tek: sorry... hehe

Xcaponius: No, that's nice too.

Jeff Schader: How did he get so damn seksy?

Lowen: What is it like in Hell?

Xcaponius: Jesh: I was on diet for a couple of years, not.

Xcaponius: Lowen: hmmm itıs hot and cozy.

Jeff Schader: Hell? Is that near Athens?

Xcaponius: We have a place for you down there. Athens is hell.

Lowen: kewl.. Yeah I know, I've been there.. it was hottt.

Jeff Schader: or Hades

Tek: Are you unique in being a Greek skinner?

Xcaponius: I suppose. Although there are some other good Greek artists..
just not skinners.. for example fake-x, sallut there :)

Tek: Does your culture influence your art?

Jeff Schader: Tell them about the sheep Xcaponius lol

Xcaponius: It does. Culture gives me ideas.... not only in design but in
music too. But other cultures are inspiring too... so I cant say the Greek
culture has played a major role in my style.

Tek: Can you think of some specific ways in which it has influenced your

Xcaponius: My designs? Hmmm, not really. :)

Tek: Everyone can think of this as an open question for all too.. we've
got several cultures here :)

Xcaponius: At not so far... I have been getting into it lately.. so nothing
released is Greek-related. Besides a couple of names. (eh)

Jeff Schader: I see the influences coming from these guys from films and
music and other artists, I think. Would you guys agree?

Xcaponius: Jesh : yes. Besides... the internet is mostly international and
American related.

Jeff Schader: Yeah, one world. I like that about the internet.

Tek: Interesting.. Sweden for example has a definite global design

Jeff Schader: Yes. I can tell you about 5 Swedish skinners/artists that
are great. I used to joke about what they're mommas are feeding them lol..
must be something in the breast milk.

Xcaponius: The oriental cultures are playing a big part, because of a
semi-culture in other countries.

Tek: Lowen?

Lowen: Yeah, I'm from Sweden. :)

Jeff Schader: He's our meatball :) hehe

Lowen: And Jeff, I feed myself.

Jeff Schader: Aight.

Lowen: Heh, I'm 20 damnit.. yeah.

Jeff Schader: ok ok :)

Tek: lol.. Has the popular Scandinavian design sense influenced your

Lowen: It has.. I'm into minimalistic designs, light designs, which has its
roots in the dark Scandinavia. We need some light in our darkness :)

Jeff Schader: I think for some anime has a big influence.

Tek: How about you Gen, roman, ess?

ess-vid: Tortures Octavian with great pleasure.

roman: when I started skinning I was mostly influenced by Pordey's stuff..
don't know if any of you remember him.

Jeff Schader: yup.. He was one of the skinners I mentioned in my
interview's 5 questions, nautilus being my fave. An amazing sonique
skinner, as was misery.

Tek: Nautilus is a great skin.

roman: heh.. Now I just carry some paper and a pen and sketch whatever I
find interesting..

Lowen: Misery did one skin for sonique.

Jeff Schader: Yeah, but K-jofol.

Lowen: yeah

Jeff Schader: Phong

Tek: So, your influences come from the world around you, roman?

roman: Yes.. pretty much.. Just ideas that I get once in a while.

Jeff Schader: Well, your upcoming wmp7 skin owns, roman.

roman: heh..

Tek: Where does your inspiration come from ess? torturing Octavian? ;]

ess-vid: you can't simplify like that

Tek: how would you express it?

ess-vid: In all honesty EVERYTHING around us is an influence, regardless of
how small.

Tek: True.. the overall filter of our life experience..

ess-vid: Exactly. That's how I look at everything... how does this
influence what I do, and in turn that train of thought is its own influence,
etc. etc. etc.

Tek: Is there one aspect of your personality you see emerging more often?

ess-vid: Not really... I just strike out to do whatever mood takes hold...
I'm like the stereotypical "artiste!"

Tek: :) Excellent.

ess-vid: I just sit and think, and then strike out and create in a
spontaneous instant, driven by the conflict of emotion and logic... it's a
perfect experience in the profession.

Tek: About how long do you work with an idea before it starts to take on
its own life? All can chime in on this one, as well...

ess-vid: Define "work."

Tek: By work, I mean what a print artist would call sketching, for one
thing. Pushing the first few pixels around..

ess-vid: See, I don't do that. I have no need. It's the way I think...
complexity isn't a factor for me... I live the old adage of art being 90%
thought and 10% manual work. i.e. Jeff got mad at me over hardline for
it... I worked on it for 3 weeks... I actually (only) put anything down on
the last two days.

Tek: I see.. so when you 'strike,' it's the full vision.. excellent.
That's how I wrote term papers...

Lowen: I usually make about 10 sketches for my skins before I find
something that attracts both Jeff and me.. or 5.. or..

Jeff Schader: True.

roman: I take a while with a design.. I like to work out the little
details. Though I sometimes spend more time on something, and end up
rushing something else..

Jeff Schader: Roman did the Doobie Brothers skin that was featured on, and on the their new CD: "Sibling Rivalry."

ess-vid: The Doobie Brothers skin was great. Jeff's heart almost blew up.

Jeff Schader: Ess did part of the coding.

ess-vid: I did a full code actually, but you guys modded the track slide.

Jeff Schader: heh.. That was a messed up deadline. 2 days.

Tek: The Doobie Brothers went over deadline?

Jeff Schader: No, right on time.

ess-vid: Nope, it's a neat story.

roman: heh.. Worked all night and morning on that..

ess-vid: Jeff's boss is a big Doobie Brothers fan, and wanted a skin to
show them coz' he was attending a concert... Jeff asked me and roman to
handle (it.)

Jeff Schader: Well, actually the president of Pyramid Records is a partner
of ours for ByteAudio, and my girlfriend is vice president of Pyramid, who
handle the Doobie Brothers.

Tek: aha.. :)

Lowen: What a soap.

ess-vid: He was talking details to us on a Thursday night... I asked the
concert date and he told us it was that Saturday, in the morning.

Lowen: ;)

Tek: Talk about deadline.

Jeff Schader: That's right.

Lowen: Better than sunsetbeach.

ess-vid: Note, neither roman nor myself really knew the format for WMP at
the time.

Jeff Schader: They were flying to Vegas to see them record the CD, and
wanted the skin to show them.

Tek: To show the band themselves? Or to show the execs?

Jeff Schader: The exec is on our payroll - to show the band.

roman: I kinda jumped at the last minute since someone else couldn't do the

Jeff Schader: The Doobie Brothers was what I refer to as the first
generation wmp7 skins, less functionality than the newer skins we're doing.

ess-vid: We were working like an ER after a plane crash for two days.

Tek: How did you coordinate in such a time crunch?

ess-vid: I was yelling at Jeff to stay awake though early Saturday coz' he
was dozing off.

Jeff Schader: Heh, I remember.

Tek: Actual lol :)

Jeff Schader: Roman spent a day on the graphics, essvid a day on the code.

ess-vid: I have a messed up biological clock... 27 hour days.

roman: heh..

Jeff Schader: Well they spent day/night.

ess-vid: Non-stop coding from noon to 5 am. Ess-vid is Jeff's wunderkind.

Jeff Schader: heh

Lowen: Jeff is an überbabe.

Jeff Schader: :)

Tek: With roman looking at evolving code as it went? Or the other way

roman: No.. ess-vid did all the coding..

Jeff Schader: For version 1.0.

roman: I was probably sleeping while he worked at it.. yeah.. I added
some extra stuff for the drawer and the links..

Jeff Schader: ..and the volume I think.

roman: ohh.. yes.. the volume was completely changed..

Tek: So you coded most of it looking at roman's graphics, ess?

ess-vid: I always have them give me a composite, several in fact, that way
I can fix any issues without their help.

I.e. roman's pieces had several "just off" pieces, but because I could
remake them myself, it was only a matter of minutes to get back to coding.
roman: I think I left out some maps.

Tek: it really is fascinating to get a mental picture of how team skinning
works.. it's the exception rather than the rule.

Jeff Schader: It's not always pleasurable though.

ess-vid: Both parties have to be willing, otherwise it's a disaster.

Jeff Schader: As with essvid and some coding he did for someone else.

ess-vid: I nearly wrung (his) neck.

Tek: Well, I'm sure you guys are on good terms now though..

Jeff Schader: Yeah, of course.

ess-vid: Haha [omitted =P] wasn't bad, it was false expectation and a
communication problem.

Jeff Schader: Well, I can tell you, with a strict deadline it wasn't my
highlight of the contract.. heh

ess-vid: Gotta understand, most of these people came in green to the whole
deal: group work, work for hire, general business. That was the role I took
alongside Jeff... pep talk some... technical help, and of course busting
chops where needed.

Tek: Are you comfortable with that role, ess?

ess-vid: My typical role in groups is a gap filler. I take on whatever the
group most needs naturally.

Tek: Do you tweak graphics as well?

ess-vid: Tweak graphics?

Tek: Yes ess... do you ever tweak others graphics?

Jeff Schader: There were surprisingly few problems. With the Microsoft
contract of course, Xcaponius went on vacation in the middle of it. lol
..and declined to let me know when he was getting back.. but I still lub

Lowen: haha.. He IS the devil ;)

Jeff Schader: Yes he is.

Lowen: He's a cute kid.

Tek: lol

Tek: Gen, we talked about cultural influences on designs.. your take?

Gen Aku: Cultural influences eh? Well my Windows Media Player 7 (skin) was
named dim sum. A Hong Kong brunch =)
For me, cultural influences are not really that much of an influence..all my
designs are influenced by dreams.

Jeff Schader: Really? I thought it was "Fist of Legends" :)

At this point, Jeff and Gen Aku delved into a side conversation about film
actors. Suffice it to say that if Chow Yun Fat or Jet Li ever have a desire
for custom skins, I think they're in luck.

Gen Aku: (In answer to Jeff) Yup..every single one of my themes/skins are
from dreams... take my old theme technetium for example... it was a razor
blade in one of my dreams when I was shaving.

Tek: Fascinating.. all your work, for every app?

Gen Aku: Yup.

Tek: How do you translate dream to graphic design? What is the process?

Gen Aku: ...hmmm dream up something..wake up...try and remember the details
and then obsess over the dream's details and colors as much as possible..get
my ass on a set of image tools and start drawing. But I am a pixel pusher
like essvid at nature..I don't like using filters and whatnot...I just draw
things pixel by pixel with paintbrush...lines...and flood, so it's
interesting to see how my dreams turn up as themes, since they go through a
2-dimensional sort of filter =0

Tek: Does that come from a background in print art?

Gen Aku: print art?

Tek: As in 'real world' art.. although the specific term "real world" is
inappropriate, since this is all real in my opinion.

Gen Aku: Ah..heh s'ok...hmm...actually I find that I try to stay away from
real world art as much as possible. I stay very close to the functional and
not the artistic.

Jeff Schader: Oh, I'm working on a new wallpaper.

Tek: Jeff, can't wait.. more Lovecraft?

Jeff Schader: No, itıs a bit different, but will have the same
depth of

Tek: I see.. how about the rest of you? What backgrounds do you have in
graphite and ink?

ess-vid: nuh... I just grew up with computer graphics... my school hated me
coz' I'd send the Apple IIs into infinite loops using the old coord drawing
apps... then on to paint with the intro of Win3.x... been pixel editing

roman: I do a lot of sketching.

Lowen: Me too.

Gen Aku: Heh, I basically have no real world art experience, I used to draw
anime when I was a little kid =)

ess-vid: I got started in skinning through doing icons, and I got started
in them through anger that 2 people were getting all the glory :> I do a
LOT of penciling... shade and texture work. I was locally famous for being
able to generate just about any look... metal, leather, etc... with a #2...
making the pencil lines disappear.

Gen Aku: Ess vid..must be a pretty small local =)

Tek: Where do you see this going for you personally, Lowen?

Lowen: How do you mean?

Tek: Do you see it as a career, or is it a hobby for you?

Lowen: Currently I base my income on graphics work, including work for
ByteAudio, but in the future I will work with something else... but
hopefully involving design... I'm studying next fall... I work in

Jeff Schader: Well, hopefully we'll do some other stuff together, like
interface work, besides skins, which is our next project actually.

Tek: Lowen, I checked out the illustration you have posted of your old site
design, and it reminded me in some ways of Neil Allardice's thredz look. Is
there any relation between the two? Did one provide any inspiration for the

Lowen: My old site design was not inspired by thredz. I dont think thredz
existed back then, but there are some similarities nevertheless.

Tek: You mention that your main source of income is graphics work. Can you
tell us a little more about what you do for a living (especially anything
outside of HL Design?) Also, you said you would be studying next year.
What will you be studying?

Lowen: As it is right now I work with different companies, not only
ByteAudio and SkinWerkz. I do graphics for, the famous Swedish
community. 1.5 visitors / sec !! ;) Mostly icons that is. But I work with
other companies as well, most of them listed at my website. Right now Iım
studying to become an engineer, within design. I will, though, move to
another university, next autumn, 'cause of lacking quality (bad teachers,
budget etc.) But I would definately like to work within design and
production in the future. My dream since I was a lil' kid has always been to
become a car designer, but only a few ppl will ever get a chance to do this,
so the current program seems to be a good solution for me. And, yes, I will
become a billionaire. ;)

Tek: Do you all have a favorite app to skin?

roman: K-Jofol was my favorite.

Lowen: Winamp and K-jofol.

Tek: Lowen and roman.. why those choices?

roman: K-Jofol allows a lot of creative freedom.

Jeff Schader: WMP7 doesn't? Curious.. I figure it would.

Lowen: Winamp is neat.. the format is great.

ess-vid: WMP (I like complexity,) although Unsanity is looking yummy.. seen

Gen Aku: hmmm Litestep.. favorite application to skin/theme.. is Litestep
counted in this "application to skin"? Since it's a little more intricate
than any of those apps =)

Tek: In my opinion yes, Gen Aku.

Gen Aku: Good, then that'll be my fave (Litestep.)

roman: Well.. since K-Jofol is apparently dead now.. I've gone the way of

Lowen: K-jofol is freeform and easy to skin.

ess-vid: I hate winamp with a passion.

Jeff Schader: If doodle was here, he would say sonique I'm pretty sure.

Tek: Ess-vid, Winamp is a favorite program to skin, but you hate it with a

ess-vid: If you skin Winamp on a pixel level, you'll see it sucks...
there's lots of bugs. i.e. the main window's window shade mode shares a
line... the bottom of the active state is the top of the inactive.

Tek: Aha... Have I missed your skins at Audion, or is that upcoming?
(ess-vid had mentioned earlier he was working with the MacOS, and Audion is
a popular MP3 / streaming / CD player.)

ess-vid: Upcoming... working on K (Kaleidoscope scheme) right now...
Audion, SoundJam, and Unsanity will be bought on my next cash influx.
(Nagware is a whore to skin without paying for it.)

Gen Aku: Litestep is a favorite to skin, but I can't stand it 90% of the

Tek: Where do you all see the future of skinning headed?

Gen Aku: I don't expect my skinning to get me anywhere. Life as an artist
is too hard. It'll probably stop within 6 months.

Tek: How about the future of skinning as a whole?

roman: I think skinning is a great promotional tool.

Tek: Gen Aku, why such a short life span?

Gen Aku: Migellito... skinning holds for no future in my life, I'm 18 going
to enter college next year, and I don't plan on being a skinner for the rest
of my life. I'm young and I have a lot of things to do in the future. If
skinning could make as much money as say a major in Computer Information
Systems, then I'd gladly do it for a living.

Tek: ah.. I see. Actually, though I was referring to the whole milieu of

Gen Aku: Ah, I see for the whole? Hmmm.. I think it'll continue to
evolve... I'm not exactly sure how, but I think skinning has already
reached it's peak.

Tek: Some have thought it will be done mostly by teams, like all of you.
Groups working for Microsoft, for example, with new skinners breaking in as
freelancers. Thoughts all?

ess-vid: To me, it's a problem of perception within the community. People
desperately want to believe we're a new thing when we're not.

Gen Aku: Ess-vid, I think that too. Skinning isn't THAT big.

ess-vid: Skinning's just another form of graphic design.

Gen Aku: When most people use skins, they just download in huge amounts and
keep a skin for a week, then move on. If you are on the inside of the
skinning scene, it's much different: you tend to compete and glorify things.

ess-vid: 's why I laughed when everyone was like "all the designers are
gonna come in and take over!"... that won't happen because we ARE the

Tek: True.. Many don't realize how long it's been around, called different
things, on various platforms.

Gen Aku: Yeah, from the Amiga skins and so on. It's only recently had

Tek: True.. like the aforementioned Kaleidoscope, which has been around

ess-vid: Anyone that knows about the layout work in print will not see it
as a big deal. The layout apps of old were like application programming.
Most skinners shit their pants on HTML :>

roman: heh

Gen Aku: lol =)

Tek: People should try an old version of PageMaker or Quark, for example,
to look at it from a completely different angle. ;]

ess-vid: Or even further... the first major ones weren't even WYS, let
alone WYSIWYG. All text entry. You wrote the layout in a scripting

Gen Aku: All my html is notepad.exe driven =P

ess-vid: Same here. WYSIWYG doesn't work for the web.

Tek: I've heard many say that.. It's somewhat of a controversy, with
experienced pro web designers staying away from DreamWeaver, etc.

ess-vid: I've been involved in web design since 95.

Gen Aku: I don't know any professional web designers that use wysiwyg
editors at all.

ess-vid: WYSIWYG was introduced to ease print people into the digital
field... only they didn't ease, they got lazy. It's taking pride in the
job... would print experts like it if I refused to learn color matching

Tek: I assume there is a corollary with skinning apps, that do it
automatically, regardless of how they might evolve. Would you find a
skinning app offensive to your craft?

Gen Aku: A skinning application? Naaa. They can go right ahead, but the
quality of skins shows right away. Just as with the web, things done by
hand are better.

ess-vid: Exactly. You can Frontpage your Geocities page all you want, but
leave the real work to us.

Gen Aku: I suppose it would be a good way for newbies to be introduced to
the scene though =)

ess-vid: Same with skins, you can smack your sports hero on Winamp all you
want, but don't think you're a good skinner from it.

Tek: :) Is skinning a 'pride of signature' activity for everyone?

ess-vid: For me it's just the least expensive thing I can get to the most
widespread audience. Otherwise I'm a big "Good For Anything."

Tek: Is it simply for the sake of the skin applying public, or is it
promotional for your other efforts?

ess-vid: I revel in complexity, so I dabble in many many things... music,
philosophy, art, coding, on and on. I scare people because I'm incapable of
suffering information overload.

Gen Aku: Hmmm.. I take my pride in skinning. I'm very well known in the
Litestep scene, and highly respected. I like skinning at times..but I am
easily bored..but the urge to please the public keeps me going to release.

Tek: And you roman?

roman: I like doing this stuff for fun.. I try to do something better and
different each time...

Gen Aku: Yeah, I like doing something different. I won't make a theme
unless it's different and something to the extreme that nobody has done. If
it's common..don't count on me doing it.

Tek: Excellent :) Well, it's about that time.. Does anyone have
anything else they'd like to add?

Gen Aku: Hmm =) that's all for me.

ess-vid: I'm the only windows iconist that speaks English natively in the
known universe :>

roman: Heh.. I can't think of anything..

ess-vid: I'm the only BeOS iconist period :>

Gen Aku: Ess, haha =)

Tek: I'd like to thank all of you very much for this opportunity.. it's
been fascinating.

Fnad's Five


1. What skin do you wish you'd created?

The skin of Claudia Schiffer... ....I have no idea actually. Perhaps the
ancient Winamp skin Comely, by Fli7e.

2. What would you like to have on your laptop if you were stranded on a
deserted island, eg: skins, music, programs, peripherals, games, etc.?

hehe.. definately not Monkey Island 2. I hardly ever play games. .. hmm...
music would be Dream Theater, U2, The Cure, Dererium, and some
oldies...proggies would be Winamp, Photoshop, Illustrator. Don't know about
the other ones. ;)

3. Have there been any skins that have made you laugh? Cry? Orgasm?

There is a great variety of skins out there, some great some less great..
But I have never been that emotional to a skin... I might have laughed at a
funny skin sometime, but not at a bad skin...

4. Boxers or briefs?

Boxers, definately. ;P

5. List some sites you visit daily; weekly; hourly.,,,,


1. What skin do you wish you'd created?


2. What would you like to have on your laptop if you were stranded on a
deserted island, eg: skins, music, programs, peripherals, games, etc.?

Laptop in total nature setting = fancy rock. I'd be focusing on my survival
and well-being, then on enjoying the world around me, not desperately
clutching at keeping the company of machines.

3. Have there been any skins that have made you laugh? Cry? Orgasm?

1) No, 2) no, 3) ew.

4. Boxers or briefs?

White or wheat?

5. List some sites you visit daily; weekly; hourly.

MacAddict, Ars Technica, Sluggy Freelance (the real web comic... Illiad can
choke on that cliche factory he's running), Skinz, DeskMod, ResExcellence,
IconParade... occasional checks of the IconFactory and NOiSE for new


1. What skin do you wish you'd created?

At the time it was released, I really liked misery's "crystal bastard"... I
wish I could have done something like that.

2. What would you like to have on your laptop if you were stranded on a
deserted island, eg: skins, music, programs, peripherals, games, etc.?

I'd like to have my Wacom tablet along with my CD catalog.. and of course my
favorite skinable and art programs.

3. Have there been any skins that have made you laugh? Cry? Orgasm?

I don't download many skins, so I probably haven't seen any of those.. uhm..
orgasmic skins.

4. Boxers or briefs?


5. List some sites you visit daily; weekly; hourly.

I visit,, throughout the day (but
that's probably a given)... I also visit some news and technology sites
along with some entertainment sites -,,,, - come to mind.

Editors note: We express our thanks to this crew for making the time for this chat...