Yes, you can personalize a computer 'Screenies' frame that dull gray box

October 01, 1993|By Jennifer Bojorquez | Jennifer Bojorquez,McClatchy News Service

SACRAMENTO, CALIF — SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Until now, decorating your computer meant taping family photos or attaching magnetic gadgets to the side of the monitor. Some people, like Rosie Grazre, a California state government typist, decorate their monitors with personal memorabilia.

To "perk up" her computer, Ms. Grazre has taped or attached the following to the side of her monitor: Seven pictures of her two children, five Mickey Mouse magnets, menus from three nearby restaurants and one picture of her husband.

"Since I sit here eight hours a day, I might as well make it attractive," says Ms. Grazre, 26, of Sacramento, referring to her computer monitor.

Personalizing work space

Wanting to personalize your work space is not new. For years, office workers have been decorating their desks with their favorite coffee mugs or family pictures.

Now, a Sonoma, Calif.-based company is taking advantage of this desire to personalize the impersonal with "Screenies," the first computer screen frames.

"People now have something else to look at instead of an ugly gray box," says Deborah Porchivina, public relations director for "Screenies."

Looking at Screenies the first time gives you one of those why-didn't-I-think-of-that feelings. They are simple, yet fun. Screenies are nothing more than illustrated cardboard frames that attach with a hook and loop fastener to the outside of computer monitors.

They come in a variety of illustrations -- characters from "Ren & Stimpy," "Star Trek," a frame like Etch-a-Sketch and a decorative evergreen forest, to name a few of the 50 designs.

Reasonably priced

They are reasonably priced. The standard size fits all 13-inch, 14-inch and 15-inch monitors and sells for $11.95; frames for 9-inch monitors sell for $9.95. Screenies can be purchased at computer stores such as Egghead Software and Whole Earth Access.

Rusty Schwartz, a Sonoma, Calif., art gallery owner, came up with the idea after noticing too many offices were aesthetically ugly.

"Everything looked the same -- boring," says Ms. Porchivina.

"So he decided to come up with ways to make everybody's computer screen a little different."

But not too different. "Screenies enable people to express their individuality without making the office look tacky," she says.

So far, more than 100,000 Screenies have sold since their introduction in June, a considerable success for a company that has done little advertising.

"It's gotten very good word-of-mouth," says Ms. Porchivina.

"We've caught on big with heavy computer users . . . you know, VTC people who spend a lot of time at their computers like accountants or programmers. They want something fun but not too loud."

Supposedly, Screenies have even reached the White House. Company executives claim that Bill Clinton, the first computer-friendly president, and his daughter, Chelsea, have frames around their computers.

"We've been told by his press people that the president has a frame of the flag around his computer and Chelsea has one of Socks," says Ms. Porchivina.

At first, a person in the White House press office confirmed Ms. Porchivina's claim.

Later, another, more ominous sounding White House spokesman, who would only identify himself as a White House attorney, called to correct the person in the press office.

"The White House does not endorse commercial products and has no comment on this matter one way or the other," he said.

Doing good business

With or without the presidential endorsement, Screenies is thriving.

The staff of 10 in Sonoma is busy filling orders and getting ready for Christmas, when they expect to see a big jump in sales.

Rosie Grazre says she would buy a Screenie. She likes the "Retro TV" design. But she wouldn't replace her personal memorabilia already on her computer with a Screenie.

"I would add it to what's already there," she says.

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