The internet is about to be awash in ‘90s-era graphics. Mike McMillan, the designer who brought you the Stranger Things type generator and, more recently, the LaCroix flavor generator, just dropped his latest web toy: “Make WordArt” is a Windows 95-style WordArt generator featuring none other than Clippy, Microsoft’s notoriously unhelpful paperclip.
If you lived through the nineties, you may recall that WordArt used to come packaged with Microsoft Office. The decorative text tool let users instantly transform any bit of copy into something sensational: a 3-D chrome header for a paper, or your name cast in a block of rainbow-gradient text. “I remember turning in book reports for elementary school and spending more time customizing the WordArt on the cover than on the actual content of the report itself,” McMillan says.
Instant gratification is a key ingredient in McMillan’s meme-making formula. His WordArt generator is very straightforward: Type in some text, get a piece of WordArt back. His Stranger Things web applet works the same way. “I was floored by the internet’s response to such a simple idea,” McMillan says. The LaCroix tool requires slightly more brainpower; users have to design a color scheme and come up with a flavor name—but it’s still dead simple to use.
That said, making the tools took some doing. For all three, McMillan built vector graphics that faithfully mimicked the font and look of the material it emulated. For “Make It Stranger,” for instance, McMillan had to carefully add the fuzzy red glow that emanates from the show titles’ retro type-treatment. Same goes for the WordArt applet: “I don’t have a copy of Windows 95, so I had to just Google a bunch of old images of WordArt and recreate them from scratch,” McMillan says. “I now have a newfound appreciation for all the technology that went into such a silly part of Microsoft Word. It’s actually pretty difficult to create wavy or arced type.”
Difficult for McMillan; not difficult for you, the user. When it comes to these tools, that’s McMillan’s reigning design philosophy: “You need to keep it simple, so it does one thing, and one thing good,” McMillan says. “Make WordArt” does just that, and just in time for November 8—a day when people will almost certainly have a lot to say.