The world almost lost an internet miracle this year. About a month ago, Blingee announced plans to close, but the users wouldn't let it. The news made one middle-aged Russian grandma, the unofficial queen of Blingee, very happy.
Irina Vladimirovna Kuleshova, a divorced orthodontist, turns 50 in a couple of months. She's one of the most popular and successful artists on Blingee, the seizurecore web 1.0 image-making service. Pioneering net artist and academic Olia Lialina interviewed Kuleshova after Blingee died and came back to life. The conversation — which can be read in full on this Geocities tribute site — is fantastic and will teach you how to become Blingee royalty yourself.
The now-renovated web service enables you to make animated GIFs out of a combination of so-called "stamps" which, when combined, create spectacular collages that frequently feature shimmering diamonds and sparkly stars. The resultant "Blingees" are appropriate for anything from love notes to tributes. Kulshova explains:
It is in the spirit of Blingee to share your happiness and your grief. Pictures of weddings, photos with children and grandchildren… obituaries are very common.
Kulshova made this memorial for one of her friends on Blingee:
But it's not all grim:
We are here to be friends, not to talk about politics. It's all about holidays: Easter, Christmas, Independence Day, International Women's Day. I have Ukrainians in my circle, but we never talk about what's happening there right now, about the politics…
If you become popular on Blingee, you need to create stamps that other users add to their Blingees. The more Blingees, the more achievement points. Creating a stamp that's used on 100,000 Blingees will earn you a gold stamp. Kulashova hasn't quite ascended to that level, but she's working hard now that she's divorced:
I'm a free woman now. My daughter is grown up, I married Blingee. All my free time I make blingees or I think about a new trick that would make my pictures more alive, or I see a new cool stamp and think how to make an even better one.
In order to make those stamps spread, Kulashova says you have to win competitions like "Best Couple, Best Pet, and Best Boyfriend." The formula for success is straight forward:
You don't need a masterpiece to win there. So my advice — use your photo as the background, put "Best" and your hula-hoop girl over it, some stars, some glitter — and the first prize is yours, maybe not in the first week, but try two, three times and you will be noticed!
So what are you waiting for. Go forth and create GIFs. Blingee's days may or may not still be numbered. But Blingee glory is forever.