Sights & Sounds Presents Wilco: ‘Sky Blue Sky’ by Paul Octavious

Paul Octavious

I’ve been waiting quite a while to release this wallpaper so I hope you share my enthusiasm for it. The album featured this week is Sky Blue Sky and the artist is Chicago based photographer, Paul Octavious. I am equal parts a fan of Paul’s amazing photographs as well as this Wilco album. Paul has this amazing style of photography that in my mind is best described as dreamy. There’s always something ethereal and magical happening, no matter what his subject is. It’s this positivity and creativity that I really respect about him and his work.

Sky Blue Sky could be described in a similar way. This is by far their most upbeat and happy album, I mean, the title of the album itself is as positive as you can get. It’s also a more laidback, simple album that’s almost the polar opposite of A Ghost Is Born. My personal favorites off of this album are You Are My Face, Sky Blue Sky, Please Be Patient With Me and Leave Me (Like You Found Me). Leave Me in particular is good, it’s a melancholy song that always gets me.

Here’s what Paul had to say about his wallpaper:

“I’m usually never good at meanings of titles of album or songs, and can never find the words to put them in. So when I was asked to make a desktop for Sky Blue Sky I drew a blank. Yet, this is my favorite Wilco album! So I dug deep, did some research and found my inspiration. The album title is a reference to a memory Jeff Tweedy had as a kid coming home from a family trip and his route home was blocked by a parade. I wanted to create that feeling of being trapped and not having a say on the outcome.”

Huge thanks to Paul for creating such a brilliant wallpaper. We have one more wallpaper next week and then we’re finished with Wilco! There will be some more standard wallpapers and then we’ll jump into the next edition of Sights & Sounds. I hope you’ve enjoyed the wallpapers so far.


Bobby Solomon

January 19, 2011 / By

Sights & Sounds Presents Wilco: ‘Kicking Television: Live in Chicago’ by Chad Kouri

Chad Kouri

The Sights & Sounds wallpapers continues on with this great piece by Chad Kouri for Kicking Television: Live in Chicago. For those not familiar with the album it’s technically a three record set that came out in 2005 that contained music from four sequential concerts at The Vic Theater in Chicago. The records contain mostly older material with some covers and unreleased material thrown in as well. Jeff Tweedy titled the record going to a concert is essentially kicking the habit of watching television:

A rock concert is “kicking television.” If you’re out of the house and with a bunch of people enjoying something together, that’s kicking television to me. I don’t think very many people, myself included, will ever kick television cold turkey, but I certainly think more people should be aware of what it’s doing to them.

For the wallpaper Chad took a literal approach:

“So… a wallpaper for Wilco. I have never really given them a far listen. So I took this opportunity to check out what all the hype is about. I’ve been doing a lot of non-representational work lately so I thought something a little more literal would be a nice change a pace. After some image sourcing I found a really great script that had nothing to do with… well… anything and really wanted to use it. That is what you see farthest back in yellow. To be honest, my obsession with this script made me taylor the whole illustration around it. It’s one of the least important graphic elements in the composition but I had to have it. So, apparently that is how my mind works… Pick the least important part of the composition and tweak the crap out of it so that everything has to be that good or better. I guess I’m kind of a spaz. Good times.”

Thanks, Chad. Check back next for another beautiful wallpaper!


Bobby Solomon

January 12, 2011 / By

Sights & Sounds Presents Wilco: ‘A Ghost Is Born’ by Mig Reyes

Mig Reyes

Well, we took a little break from Sights & Sounds/Desktop Wallpaper Project for the holiday but it’s definitely back. In total Wilco has 8 albums, we’re including the live album Kicking Television: Live in Chicago, so now with this wallpaper we’re passing the halfway point. Today’s album/wallpaper is one of my favorites from Wilco, A Ghost Is Born. The album marked a bit of a departure for the band. They got a little weirder, a little darker, and in my opinion, a little like the Velvet Underground. But it’s also one of their most sensitive albums, with songs like Wishful Thinking, which without fail gives me chills every time I listen to it. This album has a lot of my favorite songs on it, like the previous mentioned Wishful Thinking, as well as Theologians, Handshake Drugs, Hell Is Chrome, and of course, Hummingbird, which is where Mig took his inspiration from.

Mig Reyes is probably pretty familiar to a lot of readers. He’s a designer from Chicago who works at Threadless with our Wilco curator Joe Van Wetering. He also runs Humble Pied, a series of video interviews with designers from around the globe. He’s a talented and busy guy and I was really excited to hear he was doing a wallpaper. Here’s what he had to say about his creation:

“To me, A Ghost is Born carries a darker, more experimental sound than that of the albums that preceded it. I wanted to focus on “Hummingbird,” which captures the bleak mood I was going for. It’s funny, though. Being a web designer, I wouldn’t tout myself as an illustrator. So aesthetically, I designed it the best way I knew how: geometry, math and structure.”

I totally agree with Mig. On the song Hell is Chrome, the lyrics are:

When the devil came
He was not red
He was chrome and he said

Come with me
You must go
So I went
Where everything was clean
So precise and towering

That line, “So precise and towering”, makes me think of geometry, math and structure. But to me Mig took it to a happier place by using these properties and creating something beautiful, which is a lot like the album. Thanks so much Mig, the wallpaper looks great. Come back next week for Sky Blue Sky and another amazing artist, which I promise you will poop your pants over.


Bobby Solomon

January 5, 2011 / By

Sights & Sounds Presents Wilco: ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ by Ross Zietz

Ross Zietz

I thought I should start this edition of Sights & Sounds out with a little preface to address a couple things. This is a brand new project that’s three wallpapers old so there’s going to be some issues that arise. First is that yes, every artist should listen to the album before they design a wallpaper. I thought this made sense as well and this is no jab at the previous artists who may not have listened to the records. But going forward this will be a prerequisite to creating a wallpaper so that they can soak in the sounds and feelings of the album. I can tell you that the next four albums/wallpapers are going to really impressive and I think you’ll be into them. And I think you can say the same about today’s wallpaper.

We’re finally to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which is undoubtedly the best album they’ve ever released. It was the first album of theirs that I had ever heard and still holds up 8 years later. In my opinion this is a nearly perfect album and some of the songs on here are my absolute favorites, like Jesus Etc. and Poor Places.

The artist on this album is Ross Zietz who if you’re familiar with Threadless you’ve undoubtedly seen his work. A quick glance through his Flickr account shows a ton of amazing pieces he’s done for Threadless and random ideas as well. I’m stoked to see his interpretation of the song War on War influencing his design. Here’s what he had to say:

“Having to do Yankee Foxtrot Hot was kind of a lot of pressure. I did about 3 or 4 sketches before I came up with something I was happy with. Instead of concentrating on the album title I went with my favorite song ‘War on war’. Its an upbeat song about war so I wanted my piece to have a similar tone.”

Thanks Ross! Check back next week for A Ghost Is Born.


Bobby Solomon

December 8, 2010 / By

Sights & Sounds Presents Wilco: ‘Summerteeth’ by Eric Ellis

Eric Ellis

This week’s Sights & Sounds wallpaper is for Wilco’s album Summerteeth and was created by Eric Ellis. Summerteeth came out in the spring of 1999 and marked the beginning of what I think most people would classify as the Wilco sound. There was a lot going on during the recording of this album as well, like Tweedy’s drug addiction and the recording of Mermaid Avenue with Billy Bragg. But I think it’s possible that the struggles that were going on personally with the band is what gives it it’s sound. This was an album that I had heard years later, but there are so many great tracks on this album, my favorites being How To Fight Loneliness, When You Wake Up Feeling Old and In A Future Age. Of course, there are the mellow tracks that get me feeling deep and sentimental.

As for the wallpaper Eric did an amazing job summing up the relaxing feeling of summertime. He’s also created not one but four different iPhone versions of the wallpaper, selecting certain pieces of the illustration to highlight. Be sure to check them all out. Here’s what he had to say about his wallpaper:

To I have to be honest and say that I have never actually listened to Wilco, and specifically not this album Summerteeth, of which my drawing was supposed to represent.

It’s not that I have purposefully avoided their music, in fact based on what people tell me, I think I’d enjoy it. It’s just one of those things that I haven’t gotten around to yet, like backpacking through Europe or having a dog. But life is long, and I’m in no hurry.

My drawing is about me really, and the various things I do. If this drawing were a book, it would be autobiographical. But I think it relates to the Wilco album in that all of things I am doing in my drawing, I could be doing while listening to Summerteeth too. I suppose I could have listened to the album on repeat, trying to sort out a concept or derive some meaning from a lyric but I thought I would try something a little less obvious.


Bobby Solomon

December 1, 2010 / By