Your Zoom background is your new profile picture.  The first couple of months of enforced and endless Zoom meetings were livened up by voyeuristic glimpses into your colleagues’ and clients’ homes. Now that you see the exact same setup on every single call, it’s faded into – well – the background.

We predict that while custom Zoom backgrounds have been around for a while, they are going to be used much more, as people look for ways to not just hide that messy room, but to make a statement.

Zoom backgrounds are the wacky office socks and ties of the 2020s

Andy Budd, Founder, Clearleft

A Problem of Plenty

The rather unimaginative default backgrounds that Zoom offers, include the Golden Gate bridge, blades of grass and strangely, a shot from outer space. Small wonder then that multiple players have jumped in to plug this gap and there is a vast number of backgrounds to choose from.

You can pick a room from your favourite TV show or movie. Are you in the mood for the Dunder Mifflin office or the Simpsons’ living room? How about Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dancing in a scene from La La Land? The choices are endless, although they can be rife with sub-text.

Zoom background from Studio Ghibli’s ‘My Neighbour Totoro’

If you really want to live in a fantasy, however, nothing beats the backgrounds from Studio Ghibli, featuring twelve stills from the studio’s most famous films. From delicate cherry blossoms (Tale of the Princess Kaguya) to Totoro in the forest (My Neighbour Totoro), the unique Ghibli vibe can provide an anime escape from the dullest calls.

Whither India?

As with emojis and Gifs, the most annoying thing about Zoom backgrounds, until now, has been the lack of anything that is ready-to-use from India.  We were delighted, therefore, when the upcoming Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru, released ten stunning backgrounds from their collection of art and textiles.

A Zoom background from MAP: ‘Krishna Eating Fire’ by Manjit Bawa

You can choose backgrounds from masters like M.F. Hussain (Woman and Four Horses), N.S Bendre (Lotus Sellers) and Manjit Bawa (Krishna Eating Fire).  For lovers of the Bengal School, there is also a Jamini Roy (Gopini). If textiles are more to your taste, there is a Pancharangi Bagh, a glorious Patola and an intricate Kashmiri Kani Shawl.

A Zoom background from MAP : An intricate Kashmiri Kanhi Shawl

Our mission at MAP is to make art as accessible as possible and we are always looking for ways to help people engage with our collection. Since many of us nowadays spend so much time on Zoom calls, this was a fun way to not only introduce the MAP collection, but also make some of the Indian Masters a part of our meetings.  

Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP)

The backgrounds can be downloaded from the MAP website here (Clicking the link automatically will automatically download a zipped file with the backgrounds)

At the end of the day a Zoom background is just an image or video. You do however, have to size it correctly (1920×1080) and test to make sure the alignment works when you are sitting in front of it. It also needs to be under 2Mb. There’s nothing to stop you from creating your own, but until then, we’re quite happy to meet with Hussain’s horses in the background.

A Zoom background from MAP showing how it will look behind you : Woman and Four Horses by MF Hussain

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