Art on company time can be so much more than the rows and rows of giraffes, interlocking triangles, and spaceships you doodle during staff meetings or important phone calls. Why not try these simple ideas to spark your 9-to-5 creativity and make that workspace a little more attractive, to boot?

Easy computer art projects at the office

  1. The obvious kind: Use PhotoShop for distortions and montages of perfectly innocent, work-related digital photos. People are so naive when they ask you to take their picture for some purpose of their own and then email it to them. Now you will always have a big, clear image of your coworker, like a palette to work from. You can distort it, recolor it, stretch or crop your friends' features to make them look mentally challenged or spiteful, or insert a mushroom cloud, dinosaur, or Saddam Hussein into their photos. Try draping the mad old dictator's arm round one shoulder in a big, gruff bear hug. You can use a good face shot over and over again to master your techniques.

  2. MS Paint: It's juvenile, but why not get as skilled as you can on company time? Paint is wonderful for drawing Pikachu and other brightly-colored characters with bold, simple lines. Experiment with the spray-paint feature for autumn foliage and other subtle effects, or create fun text collages featuring huge red swear words and inverted pentagrams on a black background. You can even make desktop wallpaper tiles to match every mood or season.

  3. PowerPoint: Perfect for creating animated slides. But don't limit yourself to tired Windows sound effects like gunshots, whooshes, and breaking glass. Search the web for WAVs of your favorite movie and TV lines. Imagine the fun when your department head mouses over a fish-kill shot and hears DeForest Kelley solemnly intoning, "They're all dead, Jim," or sees your venomous secretary's mouth flap open to tell "Mr. DeMille" that she's ready for her close-up. In a group photo, layer on the effects as thickly as you want: you can have your Norma Desmond, AND your stupid office-mate mouthing Sling Blade truisms, too!

Fun with old-fashioned "brick and mortar" office supplies

  1. If your workplace still buys Pink Pearl erasers, carve designs on them to make your own long-lasting rubber stamps. Bleed ballpoint ink into the eraser's original plastic packaging to create a convenient stamp pad.

  2. Paper clip jewelry will always be with us, but don't overlook the sturdier clips and clamps for festive angel ornaments at holiday time.

  3. Perforated strips from payroll stubs and envelopes can be twisted and woven into little mats that make handy, absorbent coasters.

  4. Sample bottles and jars can contain intricate layers of salt, sand, dead insects or cookie crumbs to display wherever shelves need perking up.

As you can see, this is only a sampling of the most obvious hints to help you spend your work day wisely. The more you try, the more new ideas you'll think up all by yourself. Happy creating!

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