When Flickr launched its site-wide redesign this past week, one of the things that saw a quiet revamp was the default user avatar. The company hired Greek designer Charis Tsevis to upgrade the original default icon — an expressionless gray and black square face — to something more colorful.
Over on Behance, Tsevis shares some of his thoughts on how he came up with the new eye-popping illustrations.
First off, here’s what the old default avatar looked like. It was nicknamed “Howdy”:
Remember it? Apparently Flickr wanted the avatars to be more “vibrant.” The three requirements for the new avatars were that (1) they needed to reflect photography, (2) they needed to be colorful and use Flickr’s colors, and (3) they needed to be personal to users.
Tsevis turned to a style of illustration called “Neo-Futurism,” and sometimes “Neo-Cubism.” Hours were spent trying to choose the best shapes, forms, and colors for various types of cameras.
This lineup of final avatars shows what Tsevis ended up coming up with:
To start using one of the new buddy icons, head on over to New Flickr’s Buddy Icon page and remove whatever avatar you currently have set:
Here’s what the avatars look like on the new photostream pages:
You can read a behind-the-scenes account of Tsevis’ design process over on Behance. The article includes a number of images showing what the new avatars looked like at early stages of their development.