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Paint My Album

What started as a game of Pictionary on Microsoft Paint has grown into a project that is close to redoing 2,000 classic album covers with the wonders of this basic software.

Anthony and Diarmuid from Manchester started a project called Paint My Album as a joke. Little did they know it would become a global phenomenon. Their project was to redo classic album covers using Microsoft Paint and posting them on a Facebook group Soon people from all over the world were sending in their own classic album covers. At present, about 1,726 covers have been painted by people from over 30 countries, including America, India, Australia and China. The two are now attempting to reach 2,000 album covers and are very keen to get you on board. So discover the joys of the spraycan and fill tools in Paint because a future masterpiece is waiting to be unleashed. 

Dazed Digital: Tell us a bit about how this project came about? 

Anthony: The whole thing started as a private joke. We were doing a boring summer job, locked in a room with a computer that only had Minesweeper and Microsoft Paint on it. After a good 45 minutes playing minesweeper, we started a game of Pictionary on Paint. Diarmuid drew a picture and said, 'What's this?' It looked like a drowned nun.
Diarmuid: It was 'Nevermind' by Nirvana.
Anthony: It was terrible, but Derm looked very happy with it. He told me it was my turn to draw an album cover. He actually picked up the mouse and gave it to me, he was so excited. I did 'Bad' by Michael Jackson, and it got very addictive very quickly.
Diarmuid: We made a Facebook group called 'Let's Redo Classic Album Covers Using Microsoft Paint,' and added our pictures to it. Pretty soon, people we'd never met started posting their own. In a month we had one hundred; the next month 300. Now we've got 1,975 from people from all over the world, and we still don't really know why.

Dazed Digital: What do you think attracts people to paint an album?
Anthony: I think everyone secretly wants to be good at art, or at least have their work appreciated by others. Well, we've accidentally created a place where no matter how dreadful your drawings are, a lot of people will say how lovely they are. It gives you a funny warm feeling. It's like when you brought a picture home from primary school, and your mum put it up on the fridge, even though the badness of the picture started to devalue the house.
Diarmuid: Anyone can redo an album cover using Microsoft Paint. We've all got at least one CD. And it seems such a ridiculous waste of time. That's part of the charm.

Dazed Digital: Why did you choose/think of Microsoft Paint as the tool and not another? 
Diarmuid: It's the most basic tool you can use. It comes free with the computer. A seven year old can do it.
Anthony: A seven year old has done it. Max Ashman, aged 7 and a half, from Melbourne in Australia is our youngest contributor. He did 'Welcome To The Monkey House' by The Dandy Warhols. His mum wrote to us saying that he was stunned to see his picture of a banana on our website. Our oldest contributor is Kathie Elphick, aged 83 from Ormskirk. That shows the simplicity of Microsoft Paint.
Diarmuid: Except that hers wasn't technically an album cover. It was a picture. It was just a load of stick people by some river dancing to musical notes, with the word 'Hallelujah' at the bottom.

Dazed Digital: What covers/albums are you still looking forward to see? 
Anthony: I'd like to see more covers from some non UK/US bands. We have 300 fans from Taiwan, and 200 from China. All they do is Green Day and Kings of Leon. It's a shame. I want to see Taiwanese hip hop. Chinese electro rock. Obscure Europop covers would also be much appreciated. A Portuguese fan has just sent us two Portuguese rock albums. That's more like it.

Dazed Digital: Out of all the ones that have been submitted, which are your favourites?
Diarmuid: Now and then we get a bit surprised by people that are actually very talented. Some of our fans are artists and graphic designers who spend hours on each one. The results are incredible! Angela Kowalczyk from Australia, Robin N from Missouri, Thinh Nguyen Canh from Vietnam... You can't tell their work from the real thing. They make me ashamed of my own mouse.
Anthony: I completely disagree. Give me a cover so bad it looks as if a baby's thrown up on the page. We've got some people with a real lack of talent, and I'm one of them. Someone drew Enrique Iglesias the other day, and his head was shaped like a shoe! How cack-handed can you get! Naturally we put it onto our Youtube show and gave it the praise it deserved.

Dazed Digital: Have you both painted albums yourselves?
Diarmuid: Yes. I've done Blur, Led Zeppelin, The Stone Roses, and I'm getting progressively worse. Not one magazine feature or blog article has ever shown them! Please show my Led Zep cover. It will make me so proud, and my mother slightly less angry that I'm jeopardizing my future career.
Anthony: My favourite of mine is Definitely Maybe by Oasis. I can't draw hands, so it looks like Noel Gallagher is playing the guitar with his foot. It took me 45 minutes to do, and I was so proud I showed it to strangers in the street. They showed complete indifference.

Dazed Digital: Who would you like to have onboard painting an album cover?
Anthony: Someone from one of the big Manchester bands. If Guy Carvey from Elbow could do Cast of Thousands... Actually, I suppose it would be pretty arrogant to redo your own band's cover art. I'd like to see what albums they'd choose.
Diarmuid: Trouble is, most musicians don't own computers or, if they do, the mouse is too clogged up with cocaine and hookers. What about the original artists of the covers? Make them redo their own from memory...
Anthony: A collection of covers redone by celebrities...
Diarmuid: No, that would ruin it. We didn't start this so Lily Allen's dad could auction Dark Side of the Moon off for Comic Relief.
Anthony: Aside from that though, the possibilities are endless.
Diarmuid: Sort of.