How Android theming helped me find my inner artist

I'm the girl with the Disney shirt on every day, with a beautiful case for my phone, my headphones on top of my jeep cap, and a song in my heart, if not on my lips. I spent some of my schooling years hiding who I am as a means to escape bullying, and I'm done with that. I'm done with hiding. I believe in being who I am and I believe in showing who I am in the technology I rock.

And this is why I theme.

Your smartphone is one of the most basic and personal extensions of your body in the "post-PC age". I was the kid in school that would spend hours editing tons of awesome wallpapers for my desktop, and when I got an Android phone, you bet your sweet ass I scoured the internet for awesome wallpapers to put on it. But we don't have to stop at the wallpaper on Android. We're not Apple, for Duarte's sake, we're Android, and Android is all about personalization!

I was young, and reckless

Some of my early themes. Go easy on me, my tastes were still developing.

When I got an Android phone, you bet your sweet ass I scoured the internet for awesome wallpapers.

Believe it or not, for the first couple of years on Android, I didn't bother with icon packs for my themes. I would find a good wallpaper, and then I would create dock icons to match the theme, since my dock was all folders anyway.

Then I'd get together about a dozen ringtones and notification tones to give to my starred contacts and favorite apps, expressing my musical tastes as well as telling me who or what was calling before I pulled my phone out of my flares.

Things were fine… then I found Nova Launcher. And Android was suddenly brand-new.

From Disney to the Dark Side...

Nova Launcher was my first custom launcher, and it's the one I've stuck with. I dabble with Action Launcher and others from time to time for specialized projects and to see how green the seaweed is in other lakes, but Nova was where I had my theming revelation, and it's where I gladly build (almost) all my themes to this day.

Icon packs were easy to apply and easy to tweak individual icons on, folders were bigger, more functional, and more beautiful than ever, and then there were the gesture actions. I was in love.

Themes are fun, diverse, and magical

When I build a theme, there's always an instinctive desire to share them. Call it the digital version of showing your parents your school art project. I was sharing them on social media years ago, and after writing for Android Central, I decided to share my themes with our readers.

It's a bubbly little feeling to hear people are trying out my themes, that my themes can spur them to make their phones look better and feel better for them. It's why I'm always hunting for good theme ideas and great wallpapers to build them on.

Express Yourself!

I love to share my themes because my themes are an extension of myself and my style. I love to build my themes so that I can try new styles and new workflows in pursuit of the perfect home screen. And I'm about to dive into some wicked Beauty and the Beast themes, so if you know any characters or wallpapers you want to see me use, holler at me!

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.