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MS Paint Desktop Icons (also known as “Misspelled Desktop Icons”) refers to a series of hand-drawn computer icons with intentional spelling errors created by using basic image editors like MS Paint. Since its first appearance via 4chan in late November 2007, this thread has been re-summoned on multiple occasions, with each round of thread typically spawning well over a hundred contributions from the userbase.
The earliest known image compilation of hand-drawn icons can be found in a 4chan /b/ (random) thread dating back to November 30th, 2007. The OP began the thread with a rather poorly drawn Google site logo and the misspelled caption “Gouleg.” The original thread was met by positive response on /b/ and went on to inspire over 200 reply posts showcasing various sketches of well-known desktop icons.
Usage on 4chan
The thread topic continued to resurface and perform well on /b/ (random) throughout 2008; several “desktop icon” threads have been archived by sites like 4chanarchive and chanarchive. The thread came to be also known by alternative names like “Draw Desktop Icon in 30 seconds.”
The practical usage of such icons outside of 4chan threads remains little documented, but their aesthetics and nostalgic value seem to be the main appeals. On December 31st, 2010, an Anonymous user posted a directory folder with over 190 examples of MS Paint-style desktop icons.
Misspelled desktop icons may be seen as a celebration of complete disregard for English grammar, a theme which has been previously explored through other common but intentional misspellings like “liek” and “teh,” as well as inspiring a spin-off image macro series on 4chan known as “wurds,” in which stock images of generic objects are labeled with words that are intentionally misspelled.
In Visual Art & Graphic Design
Meanwhile, there are also graphic artists and designers who have created their own sets of hand-drawn computer icons, such as American illustrator Kyle Steed who released a set of icons labeled “Steedicons” in early 2011 and Chris Spooner who published a set of hand-drawn icons via his blog SpoonGraphics. In addition to individual artists’ portfolios, more stylized free-hand drawings of popular computer icons can be found on graphic design communities like DeviantART and Iconspedia.
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