Chuck Anderson, creator of Windows 7's laid-back, cerulean-cool default wallpaper and login screen, showed me the evolution of his work—including Easter eggs, avoiding Mac tropes and why flaming skulls didn't make the final design.
Chuck is the embodiment of the dreams of thousands of DeviantArt users—he started out in screenprinting just after high school, worked for t-shirt maker Threadless by day and began creating a name for himself in the online art community by night. Under the pseudonym NoPattern (now the name of his design shop), he achieved incredible success at a startlingly young age: You've seen his work before on projects with Pepsi, Urban Outfitters, Reebok, and many more. My personal favorite has to be the cover art for Lupe Fiasco's fantastic debut album, Food & Liquor:
Today, at only 24, he's achieved a new level of stardom: His designs for Windows 7 will literally be seen by hundreds of millions of people over the lifespan of the OS. Microsoft hunted him down, and it was definitely a good call; Windows 7 is the best-looking Windows OS ever, and its style is reflected in the cool screens designed by Chuck. Check out some of his previous work in the below gallery (including a great graffiti-inspired piece for Zune) to get a sense of his style.
Since he's such an independent guy, I was curious to hear how he managed to collaborate with Microsoft, the tech corporation most likely to have the word "monolithic" as an epithet. Chuck says the actual design team he worked with was quite small and surprisingly open to his ideas. The first thing they showed him back in December 2008 were those glorious Dr.-Seuss-as-read-by-Hunter-S.-Thompson wallpapers, so it was clear right off the bat that censorship wouldn't really be a problem.