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February 3, 2015

The incredible Tile Art Guy launches the incredible #TileArt App

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,” Pablo Picasso once said.

This insight from one of the masters of 20th century art could well have been said with Ricc Webb in mind. If you’re a regular reader then you might remember seeing Ricc’s, aka The Tile Art Guy’s, masterpieces right here on Conversations. Way back in May he shared his top tips on how to create stunning start tile art for your Lumia. Well, now he’s back, bigger and better than before with a brand new app, #TileArt, that will make every single one of us a king of customization. To find out more about his art, his app and his life with Lumia, we hooked up with the maestro himself. Here’s what he had to say.

You’ve been creating your tile art magic for the last year or so now. What was it that got you hooked on Windows Phone start art and what was your very first attempt like?

About a year ago I had a red Lumia 920 with a Frank Miller Dark Knight lock screen, which I loved. Unfortunately when I unlocked my phone it was gone and all I saw were boring red tiles. I thought to myself…”There must be a way to pin awesome Frank Miller artwork on my home screen”, so I went to Windows store and found “Custom Tile Maker”…which is where it all really began for me.


It may surprise some people to learn that although you work for Microsoft, tile art is totally unrelated to your job and simply a labour of love. When do you find time for your start art and what kind of things inspire you?

Well, I suppose when you’re really passionate about something you’ll always find a way to do what you love. I started off mocking up comics & games that had been a big influence on me. From Spawn, Darkness, Watchmen and Swamp Thing to Gears of War, Wolfenstein and Full throttle…these were things I loved. So I guess I never intended for Microsoft to care, because it wasn’t about them…or Windows Phone to be honest. It was my way of saying “thanks” to all the artists & developers out there who created these things that I thought were awesome.


There’s a passionate community of tile artists on places like Reddit. Who are your favourite tile artists and which of their works have you most enjoyed thus far?

There are three that really stick out. @jeejoyi who created the awesome Attack On Titan design which I just thought was amazing. Next is definitely@wptileart, we’ve been chatting about Tile Art for a while and his designs are pretty sick…even when they’re just work in progress. I think the greatest piece of work that totally changed the game for me was from Madoxster on Reddit. He was the first person to use PNG images on the home screen with his rocket launch post, so I guess you could say that he’s the Godfather of the layered effect on Windows Phone.


Your tile art app has just been launched. How would you describe it and what makes it so special?

Doing this takes time, and a lot of effort, so the idea behind the app was to make customizing your Lumia as easy as possible. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I think the combination of creating your own tile template, PNG support, lock screen customization and the #TileArt gallery make this a great starting point for anyone who’s interested in creating awesome home screens.


Finally, people love to customize their Lumias. What tips would you give any aspiring start artists eager to join in the fun?

I wrote a detailed how-to a while ago, but if I had to give people one piece of advice it would be to experiment. To try different themes, styles and image combinations. It’s kinda like changing the desktop background on your computer, every time you do, it feels like a totally different machine.

Awesome insights from a man who quite literally can. No doubt you’re as eager as us to have a go making your very own tile art, so why not download this awesome new app right now. And if you’re lacking inspiration, then check the out TileArt Gallery, which is jam packed with ace art ready to go.

TileArt competition time

For those of you itching to #MakeItHappen yourself, you’re in luck. Why? Because as we all know, Microsoft is all about empowering people to do more and achieve more. To encourage this, we’re launching a global #TileArt Talenthouse competition. Our aim is simple: to find four of the best animators, illustrators and designers from the Talenthouse community.

If you’re one of those who dazzle us, you’ll have your work featured in our #TileArt Gallery, potentially seen and used by the tens of millions of Lumia lovers worldwide.

The grand prize is a Digital Artist Kit designed to help aspiring artists get on their feet. This includes a Lumia 930 (also given to the ten shortlistees), a dedicated page in the #TileArt app, a Surface Pro and $1,500.

You need to get your entries in by February 24th, after which there’ll be a round of voting which ends on March 27th. The grand winner will be announced on March 31st. To find out more, head on over to the competition page. Now let’s get TileArting!