My First Project in Music

Eight years ago I completed my first project in the music business. It was fifty pixels square, under seven kilobytes, and made of pure GIF. I was designing around one of the most saught after properties of Internet marketing real estate: The AIM Buddy Icon.

In the spring of 2004, Sonic Youth’s manager approached me about designing the buddy icon to promote their upcoming release: Sonic Nurse. I was required to include the following:

How the hell was I going to fit all that within 50px and under 7kb?

I was young. I was nervous. Any future I thought I may have in the music business was about to be put to the ultimate test. I paused Half Life 2 and fired up Adobe ImageReady.

I searched for inspiration on [Badass Buddy](, the 21st fastest growing website [1], and decided to pursue recreating the band as buddy icon people. For typography, I went with a newly released pixel typeface designed by Yuji Oshimoto [2].

The next hour consisted of hand drawing thousands of pixels over nine frames of animation. I then used ImageReady to perfect the timing into something you might see in a Ridley Scott trailer. Finally, I threw in a bit of parody and completed my masterpiece:

[ Sonic Youth Buddy Icon ](aim:BuddyIcon?Src= “Sonic Youth Buddy Icon”)

Thanks in part to our buddy icon campaign, Sonic Nurse debuted at 64 in Billboard’s Top 200 [3]. I went on to design for interfaces much larger than fifty pixels, but I’ll never forget my first.

[1] Noted at the bottom of their current website. Seriously.

[2] I have no idea how I remembered that.



Now read this

Papa for Pope

or How to Run a Papal Election Campaign One proven way to generate extra traffic in Internet marketing is to associate your campaign with major world events somehow. Maybe it’s the Superbowl, Oscars, or in the case of my last campaign,... Continue →