Teknidermy Magazine - Issue 5 , Vol. 1
July/August, 2001

Article: It's Not Easy Being Green
(or any color that's not Blue)

An essay by FOF

In my time I've previewed, zoomed, downloaded, used and commented on
countless skins, wallpapers and themes. And I've noticed several things.
Trends come and go. Simulated metal, simulated plastic, simulated
wood.... they've all had their fare share of exposure and influenced
some of the greatest and best known skins. But there's one trend that
endures, month after month after month.

Blue skins.

I'm quite ready to accept that this is not a new complaint. I, for one,
have long been commenting on works with comments such as, "Looks great,
even though it is blue!". I've noticed more people annotating their
(non-blue) skinshots with remarks which hilight the new colour. But why
should people feel the need to do this? Why should we have to apologise
for creating a skin that isn't blue or grey? An artist should never
have to apologise or make excuses for their work (though many
contemporary artists are asked to, by unsympathetic media

Perhaps part of the problem is due to the convention of
a description or comment field to fill in each time we upload our work.
Ultimately, what purpose do they serve? Maybe we should leave the field
blank, and - excuse the cliché - let the art speak for itself. After
all, it is rare that an artist would leave a comment or description
against their work in the real (as opposed to virtual) world. When was
the last time you saw, "Thought I'd leave the eyebrows out for a
change" or "part of a suite of pictures of my garden" next to one of
the grand masters?

Almost since I started skinning, I've had an unwritten rule. Never to
create a blue or grey skin. There's just too many of them around. I
mean sure, skins which are part of suites are lovely, and it's very
satisfying to have a desktop which co-ordinates pixel-perfectly, but
isn't there a greater sense of personal satisfaction on discovering the
titlebar skinner and shell enhancement themes which sit next to each
other just sooo well?

And yet, just one month ago, I chose, of my own free will, to make a
blue skin. I'd like to say it was all tin the name of a vast
experimentation to see if it garnered more downloads than my previous
brown skin, into which a great deal of work and effort went... but
actually, it was because I felt drawn to the colours after having
stayed away from them for so long. (I'll meditate more on this later.)

So why are blue and grey skins so popular anyway? Is it because 85% of
computer users had their first regular contact with computers through a
Windows OS of one flavour or another? Relatively few users change
little more on their desktop than their wallpaper, and are stuck with
windows blue and grey colours. Do we therefore lean towards these
colours for subconscious perceived familiarity with those mysterious
boxes that whirr and hum and sit on our desks?

If so, then what made Microsoft choose those colours in the first
place? Is it merely a colour that we're happy with? A colour that
reminds us of sea, sky, and all things serene?

Blue is none of those things to me. To me, and I should imagine at
least half of the population of the western world, it reminds me of my
school uniform. Day in, day out for 5 long years I was forced to wear
charcoal grey trousers and a sweater over the most disgusting pale blue
shirt. I won't go into detail about the horrendous diagonally striped
tie, as it was the shirt that offended me most. It wasn't a smart navy
blue. It wasn't a subtle soft blue. It was a ghastly bright royal blue.
Not too dissimilar from the 000 000 128 default colour of Win 9x active
titlebars. I don't think I've ever worn a piece of blue clothing since
I had my own clothes allowance...

And yet, as much as I might maintain that I disliked wearing these
clothes, deep within me there is something that knows that blue is
"safe"; that blue provides me with a reassuring link to the memories of
my childhood. That, I believe, is why I designed my recent blue skin. I
wonder if, for many of the other people out there in skinland (punters
and skinners alike), the colour blue (subconsciously) does the same

So next time you upload a skin, don't feel obliged to apologise, describe, or make excuses for your skin. Let it stand tall and proud for what it is; a fine testament to your own hard work.

Anybody know if Bill Gates' school uniform was blue and grey too?