I am not going to get too much into icons specifically in this blog as i think the power of pixels goes beyond merely the creation of them for their own sake. Clearly the 16×16 pixel icon can trace its roots to the early days of susan kares work who continues to set standards of excellence for icon creation. If you go for the new breed of antialiased “shiny” kinds of icons (ie. those done by mac artists) you can check out the community of pixel artists (or “iconists” as they are apparently being called) at the icon factory . They do seem to give props to the traditional 16×16 format, but also included in the icon conventions for the mac, a 128×128 version!
I am thinking about entering my chess pieces this year (to be posted soon), but weighing in at 10×12 pixels i am way below the minimum requirements.