Want to see Vladimir Putin's face painted on the Village People? What about a winged Margaret Thatcher riding a flying penis? How about Trump, Pence, and William Pryor in drag, with Obama as RuPaul, commanding them to "sashay away?" You'll find all of these outlandish inventions on Jim'll Paint It, a website where a man named Jim creates anything the internet asks him to in Microsoft Paint. Conjure the most absurd scenario, and Jim will paint a hilarious, comic-book style rendering of it. His operation is a bit like the Adult Swim version of Melbourne artist Jessirose Streker, who paints portraits of inspirational people from around the world.
Jim, who would not reveal his last name, tells Creators he can also be referred to as "Mr. Paint It." Always one to draw, collage, and do "arty things," his career didn't take off until a few months after launching Jim'll Paint It, when he started to make a bit of money by selling prints and t-shirts.
"On my lunch breaks, to get away from the rigid monotony of programs like InDesign and Illustrator, I'd fire up Microsoft Paint and do some quick doodles," Jim says. "The first bunch of pictures I did were for my friends on Facebook, who are mostly a bit weird, and so asked for oddball stuff like religious prawns and anthropomorphic cities. That seemed to set the precedent in terms of style.
"When I posted the first bunch of pictures on Tumblr, I got dozens of requests overnight from complete strangers," Jim continues. "I chose a massively inappropriate name as a joke, thinking that maybe 30 or 40 people would ever see it. But, then it all got a bit out of hand."
To make his digital paintings, Jim uses the XP version of Microsoft Paint with an optical mouse on an iMac running Parallels virtual machine. Jim does almost all of his drawing using the curved line tool, zooming in and out, and often painting pixel by pixel. After this is complete, he does two or three-step shading.
"There are no layers so I draw the background in a separate file and then paste the foreground items on top," Jim says. "I have a palette of pre-decided skin tones and such so that my pieces have a consistent feel. And for the last couple of years I've been working to a square format."
Jim credits his popularity to setting up a Facebook page in early 2013, right when the social platform was pushing its pay-for-reach model. He says it took him only about three days until he reached a point where he knew he'd never be able to fulfill every request, even if he painted all day every day for the rest of his life.
"It's hard to count up how many requests I get a day as they come in on my Facebook wall, via Tumblr messages, on Twitter, Instagram, and as comments on every picture I post," Jim says. "Probably averages about 40-50 a day nowadays. Last time I actively asked for new requests I got 1,700 replies."
Despite Jim'll Paint It's characteristic humor, violence, and pop culture surrealism, Jim avoids attaching too much of his own personality to the paintings, partially because he is a self-described "socially awkward nerd." But also because he wants to focus on the imaginations of those requesting the paintings. Don't expect Jim to start a Bob Ross-esque version of Jim'll Paint It anytime soon."Watching me paint would be intensely boring, I reckon," says Jim. "Unlike Bob Ross, I can't draw a whole mountain by scraping a bit of white paint on a canvas."
Jim is, however, in the process of setting up a Patreon, where supporters will be able to drop into the occasional live feed of his painting process, amongst other things. He promises to save the most interesting bits of the process for these behind-the-scene looks.