It was Windowblinds that first brought me to Wincustomize. It was DesktopX that really peaked my interest. Boxxi’s ‘No Access’ was what inspired me to try my first theme. As a skinner he has always amazed me and had my respect. As a member of the community, he’s always been there or lurking around somewhere, waiting to help or support other skinners…even when he’d thought he’d left. Like Michael Corleone, we pulled him back in. Here’s a look inside and outside the Boxxi.
You joined Wincustomize in 2001 and your first skin was a Litestep Theme, Nijikon Fetchi Step, a very clean and simplistic theme. How long had you been doing graphics and messing with Litestep before you posted it?
I think I started around 1998 after seeing a litestep theme online and thinking: That just looks so much cooler than MY windows 95! I’d already made lots of wallpapers and it seemed like a good idea to integrate the control of the computer into the wallpaper. Icons were pretty crappy things back then, and it was an opportunity to get rid of them
What attracted you to skinning in the first place?
Probably the fact that you COULD do it. And like most people, seeing some of those cool Winamp skins
Was there anyone or anyone’s person work that inspired you?
Definitely! A guy called Misery, Layne Karkruff and Treetog. And later on, Mike Bryant.
You jumped right into DesktopX themes when you first started. How are they compared to skinning Litestep?
Well, I was surprised that I ever managed to script a Litestep theme. Jafo helped me a lot in those days, he was REAL good with Litestep . DesktopX was definitely quicker to skin than Litestep, and I think the lack of complicated code was what finally made me switch.
A year later and you post your first Windowblind, Sevilla. This was made when XP was fairly new and folks were skinning W2K. What do you think of it looking back on it now?
It was a major deal for me. Larry Kuperman at Stardock had kept bugging me to make a WB skin and Renato (treetog) offered to help me. It was a lot simpler back then, with a lot less images to create. Even so, I would never have managed it without Renato’s help, he really is one of the nicest people you could meet. I still like that skin, even if it IS orange! lol
Have you thought about going back and updating any of your older windowblinds?
Hmmmm…. I have updated some skins in the past, but I don’t think many of my blinds stand the test of time, and are not what people would want to use on the newer operating systems. Much of my stuff was just me pushing the envelope, even though I didn’t have much of a clue what I was doing. It was just fun to me.
Did you know that you have work posted in 18 different galleries?
Haha….. that just shows how quickly I get bored…. ( I think it would be even more, but some of the categories were removed because they were no longer popular)
What is your favorite thing to skin?
It used to be DesktopX, but it became overpowered by scripting and the desire by people to make everything look like Vista. Nowadays, it’s Xion, it’s skinning method is pure genius and a godsend for people like me. It’s so satisfying to skin, the possibilities are endless. I know that WindowBlinds would have adopted this method of skinning if it wasn’t for the fact that tiling and stretching are necessary in WB’s, and unfortunately the xion method doesn’t lend itself to that, not without becoming very complicated. I also quite like making cursors too these days…. They are fun, which is important to me.
What haven’t you tried to skin that you want to?
Nothing really, I’m quite happy doing what I do, and I haven’t seen anything new recently that has grabbed my interest.
Your ‘themes’ are so varied. Tigger and Engine Room are on opposite ends of the spectrum in design and simplicity. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I don’t really know! I just see things and think: “That might be fun to try and make!” And then I just run with the idea until it’s eventually finished, which can be anything from one day to 6 months, depending on my level of interest in it.
What inspired Loves Dying Embers? (wall and blind)
That’s easy….. I had been learning some new techniques from tutorials (about using layers and the use of the smudge tool and the eraser) and I wanted to try them out. That wall was the result. The blind was a natural progression as many people seemed to really like the wall. And it was a challenge!
What skin are you most proud of and why?
Strangely enough, it’s probably one of the first wallpapers I made. It’s called “The Summoning”, and it was the first one that really got me noticed at Skinz.org and got really big download figures. (It was such a shock for me to log in to Skinz every day and see it at the top of the download list for what seemed like months!) It was the success of that image that made me want to do more. I’m also quite proud of some of the animated WB’s that I made, purely because they were so damned hard to make….. for me anyway.
There seems to be two main schools of project planning and application. Some folks either plan or do all the graphics first and others may Johnny-Cash-It and do it a piece at a time. How do you start and plan a project?
Plan???? Hehehe…. I never plan, I just open Photoshop, create a new blank image and wait for things to happen. Seriously though, while that IS a big part of how I work, it’s usually that I see something that impresses me and I try to recreate it in Photoshop. That tends to lead me off in several directions until I have something that I think I can work with. I just love creating…………
In ‘what WAS i thinking of??!!’ you posted some shots of your work you felt wasn’t good enough for the galleries. How much stuff are you sitting on and depriving us of?
Oh man! You have no idea!!! I probably post around a third of what I create, and so I have a MASSIVE amount of work that has never seen the light of day. But I don’t think I’m “depriving” anyone of it, rather, “saving” them from it!! lol
Have you ever thought of offering it up for another skinner or would be skinner to mess with?
No not really, I think that would be arrogant, to expect someone to use something I don’t feel is good enough for me.
What helps you the most or is your secret to completing a project?
That’s a tough one….. I think time is the most important thing for me. I have so little of it to spare these days, which makes it very difficult for me to skin at all. In the early days, it was how much a project excited me… If I was excited by what I was making I would work for days on end, non stop, to get it finished
So…what was it like to make Master?
To be honest, while it was nice, and definitely an honour, I was more thrilled when I was asked to be a moderator in the early days. Being a part of the site I really loved was fantastic for me. They were good days………
What do you think are the most important things a person should bring to being a Master?
I don’t really know, I still don’t consider myself a Master, I like to think of it as an honorary title, for services to Wincustomize.
As a Master, you have not yet posted a skin for ‘purchase’. Why?
See above….. If I make something worthy of sale, I might put it up there.
Do you think you ever will? What kind of skin would it be?
Well…. It would never be a WindowBlind. If I make some REALLY cool cursors or icons, I might consider selling them. We’ll see……
Windowblinds and DeskoptX have evolved a lot since 2001. How is skinning them now compared to when you started?
For me it just got harder and harder. As I’ve said many times, I just make pretty pictures, and as things have got more complex I don’t find it so enjoyable any more. And with regard to DesktopX, I always just used it to make my desktop look as clean and functional as possible, or as far removed from a computer desktop as possible. No in-betweens with me…lol I’m not sure my ideas fit in with the way many people use their computers these days, I guess I’m “old school”.
You’ve done tutorials and helped other skinners. Do you have anyone your working with now?
No, no one at all, I will always try and help if I can though. Again, it’s a time thing with me. I have helped a few skinners get started with Xion recently, and I’ll help any others if they ask me. (including YOU Po….)
You’re not to big to still ask for help with skinning. Who or what helped you the most when you started?
I’ve been lucky enough to be helped by the people that are considered the absolute best at what they do. In the early days it was people like Treetog, MikeB, Hippy, Snowman, martin (forDX). Also, I was in a position that allowed me to get closer to the guys at Stardock than most people can, and EVERYONE there was so helpful and kind to me.
Larry Kuperman (Koop) has been an outstanding figure in my skinning career, and T-man has been a saint to me in the past, they are real stars, all of them.
In March of 2008 you bowed out of skinning. The result was ‘The Boxxi Tribute Suite’ that was done by a group of artists from the community. Did you know you had inspired so many people so deeply?
I really, really didn’t! I was shocked and deeply touched I can tell you! I have seen so many great skinners disappear from the map, and they are forgotten within weeks, sadly.
I truly thought the same thing would happen to me, so when I saw that they were making that suite it felt really great, especially as I was having such a hard time in real life.
I’ll take this opportunity to thank them all again…. It was such a nice thing to do.
Who inspires you today?
Pretty much all the same people, oh, and those Chinese guys that show up with icons at the GUI championships…. Man! Those guys are talented, wish we could get them skinning across ALL the apps regularly, that would be awesome!
So you came back. And you started skinning and posting again. And you posted ‘Shedding Skin’. Do you care to explain the inspiration for that ? I mean..is it ‘really’ about the fruit?
Haha…. Again, it was just something that I saw other people doing around the internet, and thought it would be fun to try and do it myself. It’s a good way to sharpen your photoshop skills. I also thought they might look cool used in a wallpaper…… simple yet interesting!
Where did you come up with ‘Boxxi’?
I had a small company that made custom flight cases in the mid 90’s, I called it BoXXi Flight cases, just because it was short and memorable as a name, and it looked quite nice written down. You can get quite creative with those 2 X’s
It’s just another colour in the palette to me!!
I notice you have quite a few ‘yellow’ skins. It can be a difficult color to work with and it’s not the most popular but you pull it off. Any secrets on that? And again, why yellow?
Why not?? I saw a really cool custom Mustang in Yellow, and that’s when I made the “Bodywork” skins. I’m never really put off by any colour, they can ALL look good if used correctly
So…How is YUM?
Hehe… he’s good! He says Hi…..
He seems rather deep and philosophical. Does he consider himself a ‘Master’ of anything?
The only thing he is truly a master of is munching through a chocolate covered orange
What advice would YUM have for anyone who wants to become a Master or just skilled at the art of skinning?
I just asked him, and he said, “make skins that are dark brown and orange”…….
I guess he knows best!
If YUM had to define Boxxi in one sentence, what would it be?
Creative genius with NO technical skills…….
What is your favorite thing about Wincustomize?
Most definitely the people! (and your forum posts!!)
What do you think of how Wincustomize has grown since 2001?
It’s amazing to see the amount of members there are now!, I just hope it doesn’t become impersonal as it grows ever larger, and that it retains it’s community spirit
Where do you see it heading?
That’s hard to say. I’m no longer involved behind the scenes, so I have no idea what plans Stardock have for the site. I just hope it doesn’t change too radically. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I also hope that people try to remain creative in the skins they make, it always makes my day to see something “out of the norm” on the site.
What for you is the greatest reward about being a Master?
I think it’s just knowing that some people thought enough of your efforts to reward you for them. And, as in all walks of life, it’s nice to gain some recognition and respect, no matter how small.
Outside of Wincustomize and all you do here, what gives you the greatest pleasure?
Music, without a doubt. Couldn’t live without it. It’s also very cool watching my son become an amazing guitarist! Guitars are another great love of my life.
And I adore MotoGP (motorcycle road racing), Valentino Rossi is a GOD!
What do you do to relax?
I skin of course!!
Bryce or Photoshop?? Photoshop!!! Bryce scares me.
Stella, Becks Vier, or Guiness? I don’t drink!!!
John Cleese or Eddie Izzard? Ooh…. That’s a tough one, I’ll give the edge to Eddie.
Keeley Hazell or Susan Boyle? I had to google Keeley Hazell (*Rated #1 in Zoo's Britain's 10 Sexiest Models) , it wasn’t an unpleasant experience, so I’ll go for her as I prefer my women without a mustache.
Who’s the best Bond?
Never watched a Bond film….. sorry. But, probably Arnie in “True Lies” lol
Spam and Eggs or Spam and ________ ? Er…… Spam and a large trashcan to dump it in…… Yuk!
Most annoying American celebrity to appear on UK television?
Probably David Gest, or that idiot Hoff from Knight Rider…..
Tosser, wanker, prat, or pillock? Tosser
Have you sold the washer yet? It disappeared in the night…. I think it got sucked up it’s own outlet pipe
Favorite curse word? It’s a Chinese expression I learned from working in casinos for 30 years. Sadly I don’t know how to write it down, and if I translated it, I would be banned from Wincustomize!
YUM’s favorite curse word? (If he curses at all)
Dragons don’t need to curse…. They’ll just hurt you…..
You have a bottle of Bache-Gabrielsen cognac, a box of cigars, and three full racks of Bodean’s BBQ ribs in a sack when the Eurostar breaks down in the tunnel. What three people would you want in the cabin with you while you wait for help for the next six hours?
Brian May from the band Queen….. I have so many questions for him.
Valentino Rossi (World Champion MotoGP rider)
Kylie Minogue (for obvious reasons)
Did you expect the Spanish Inquisition?
NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!
*any final words…
Thanks to everyone who ever downloaded one of my skins.
I still love creating stuff in Photoshop when I can.
Skin for yourself, and most importantly…..
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