This week we’re back to our regularly scheduled program with desktop wallpapers, and kicking things off is this gem from Timothy J. Reynolds. Timothy hit me up via Twitter, seeing if I was in to his work, which I indeed was. You can see on his Dribbble all the cool experiments he does with 3D illustration, creating these really beautiful landscapes from geometric objects. They way he’s able to portray colors and light in his pieces is what drew me to them, there’s something so lively and wonderful about everything he does. His wallpaper feels the same way.
When I asked Alyssa of Ten Paces and Draw to collaborate with me on a monthly wallpaper, one of the ideas we threw around was to make the content of each wallpaper pretty random. Sure enough, she found a couple of folks who did exactly that.
Our illustrators for the month of May are Ann Shen and Lydia Nichols, who’ve decided to illustrated National Moving Month. I had no idea this was even a thing, but after some digging, sure enough, it’s a big thing here in America.
Recognizing America’s mobile roots and kicking off the busiest moving season of the year. Each year more than 43 million Americans pack up their belongings and relocate to new homes and communities. More than half of these moves take place between May and September. During National Moving Month, moving experts will be educating Americans on how to plan a successful move, pack efficiently and handle the uncertainties and questions that children may have.
It kind of sounds like the equivalent of a Hallmark holiday, but the image they created is anything but cheesy. The initial sketch was created by Lydia and the final drawing was done by Ann. It’s such a clever idea and leaves you with lots of room for your daily icons as well. A huge thanks to Ann (a fellow Angeleno) and Lydia for such a rad wallpaper.
I’ve been listening to Modest Mouse’s We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank in preparation for writing this post. Then I spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to write something that was constructively critical, rather than saying “this album is the worst thing I’ve heard ever.” I guess that about sums things up, though. Isaac Brock sounds like the drunken sailor he’s always wanted to be, the backup vocals from James Mercer are shabby and completley uncalled for and I can honestly say I don’t like a single song on this entire album.
Honestly it sucks to have to write that. The early Modest Mouse albums are some of my favorite ever, but this new stuff is too different for me, it’s not the sound I enjoyed from them. Hopefully they’re happy making the music they make? The album went Gold, selling 500,000 records, so obviously I’m in a minority here. But that’s ok, to each their own.
For the wallpaper though, we have the fabulous Ellis Latham-Brown creating a super fun scene which is way better than the album itself. Ellis explains himself perfectly;
This was the first album produced by Modest Mouse since adding a new member, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. I wanted to capture the spirit of this album as Issac Brock put it, a nautical balalaika carnival romp. I couldn’t think of a better grouping of words to describe it. I put the album on and went to work and this is what came out. The theme of being lost, or stranded comes up a lot in this album. I used that to form this scene of a captain who’s only companion is tragedy, portrayed by the beast. With all tragedy comes a silver lining. (The cake)
This is where most people first heard Modest Mouse. With the release of Good News For People Who Love Bad News they had a little single called Float On which you may have heard every 10 minutes in the summer of 2004. The beginning of the album isn’t bad, and in most respects it still sounds like Modest Mouse, but it’s too polished and too refined for my taste.
Then a few songs in, sadly, Isaac Brock’s song style dips into Tom Waits territory and they’ve totally lost me. I’m not a fan of Tom Waits at all, so this was the last thing I ever wanted from the band. Thankfully though the album ends on a positive note with a cluster of good songs like Blame It On The Tetons, and the star of the album, The Good Times Are Killing Me.
For the wallpaper this month, Riley Cran has illustrated the first lines from Float On with perfect execution.
I backed my car into a cop car the other day
Well he just drove off sometimes life’s ok
I love how simple and straightforward this piece is. The illsutration of the type on the badge looks great and I love all the details in the cars. A huge thanks to Riley for nailing this one.
Here’s the beginning of the end. In June of 2000 Modest Mouse released The Moon & Antarctica, the follow up to Building Nothing Out of Something and their major label debut in Epic Records. This is the point where they transition from a bunch of white trash kids from Issaquah to pop rock stars. I hate being the guy who says “Once they signed to a major label they changed”…. But they did. I don’t care about selling out, we all have bills to pay, but something changed on this album. Would they have made this same album if they weren’t signed to Epic? Maybe, I dunno. I think a part of it was also the production work of Brian Deck. I think he made a big/wrong influence one the band. Either way this is the album where I started to drift away from Modest Mouse. What’s funny to me is how many people I know claim that this is their favorite album. Different strokes, and all that.
I don’t want to rag on this album too much, there definitely are some good songs, but not many. My personal favorite is Life Like Weeds, a six and a half minute jam that is definitely reminiscent of their older material. I even had this grand idea for a short film I wanted to make around the song, storyboards and all.
While I may not be the biggest fan of the album, I’m a huge fan of today’s wallpaper by Aaron Bloom. There’s a sort of nostalgic magic to his wallpaper which I love. The color, the half-tone pattern, Modest Mouse built out of stars. It’s a clear reference to the song The Stars Are Projectors and it’s done exquisitely. I think Modest Mouse should replace their old cover and put this in it’s place. It’s probably also worth mentioning that the iPad version is Retina ready.
The last few days have been so busy with trying to launch the site that I didn’t have a thought to launch our monthly wallpaper from Ten Paces and Draw. For April’s wallpaper we have the talented duo of Lydia Nichols and Paul Windle, with Paul handling the initial sketch and Lydia finishing it off. As a professional gay man I had no idea that baseball’s opening day starts in the first week of April, but now I know! I don’t know much about baseball, but I can tell you this illustration hits it out of the park.
First there’s the colors. The lime green, robins egg blue tied together with the brown is a winning combination. Then there’s the type. The baseball font hints back to the good ol’ days, while April is playful, fun, and has a Spring in it’s step. Tying the whole thing together is the curveball of the century, dotting it’s way around April and straight for home plate. A big thanks to Lydia and Paul for the wallpaper and to Alyssa for orchestrating the whole thing.
We’ve reached, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Modest Mouse, the last great album they ever released. I’m talking about Building Nothing Out Of Something, a collection of songs that were released between 1996 and 1998. The album was released in the beginning of 2000, 12 years ago, it seems like a life time ago. Listening to this album I think of how I had no idea that this wasn’t a cohesive thought, that I never paid attention to the fact that it was a menagerie of tunes.
This collection to me is the embodiment of what Modest Mouse sounds like. It encapsulates the uneasiness of Brock’s lyrics, the fascination with travel, math, the moon, ice. It also has some of the most sensitive lyrics he’s ever written. Songs like Broke and Baby Blue Sedan are what Modest Mouse sounds like, though I’m not sure others hear them that way. There was something about their sound back then that was honest. They sounded like a bunch of guys trying to make an album with the best tools they had. Brock’s voice is slightly out of tune, as are the guitars. The flaws and character were a part of the charm.
If you’ve never been a fan of Modest Mouse, I implore you to listen to this album. It defies all the expectations you may have, and could maybe show you a side to their music you didn’t know they had.
As for the wallpaper, super illustrator Deke Smith has created this awesome piece that sums up the album so well. The album is made up of pieces and parts and so is his wallpaper, but each work as a cohesive thought. He’s created some pretty rad symbols, and I love the color palette he chose as well. A huge thanks to Deke and be sure to check back next week as we hit up The Moon and Antarctica.
Perhaps the best Modest Mouse album released, though not my very favorite, The Lonesome Crowded West took everything that was great about the last album and refined it even further. The album was released back in 1997 and it still holds up to this day. Coming in at an hour and 17 minutes the band continued to write about travelling and discontent int he city you live in.
There are songs like Trailer Trash, one of their most beautiful tracks, which is one of Isaac Brock’s most touching and sentimental tracks. That’s what was so good about the old Modest Mouse albums, how honest and vulnerable he allowed himself to be, spilling his guts into his lyrics. It was also an interesting time for Brock because I believe he was doing a lot of drugs and I think he may have been an alcoholic. I’m not 100% sure on this, certainly don’t quote me, but I think a lot of that experience shaped his lyrics and music. I mean, one of the best lyrics he wrote was from Out of Gas, where he wrote, “I had a drink the other day, opinions were like kittens I was giving them away.”
For the wallpaper Trevor Basset took a hysterical take on the album. I love this wallpaper because it’s so goofy, but pretty spot-on. On the track Heart Cooks Brain there’s a line that says, “My brains the cliff and my hearts the bitter buffalo”, so he’s clearly referencing that. There’s also a track called Cowboy Dan, so he’s got him in there as well. Obviously the last reference is the song Out of Gas, as there’s a gas can on the side of the road. So many good references.
Back in 1996, a little band named Modest Mouse released their very first album with a mouthful for a title: This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About. I picked up the album around 2000 or so. This album, along with Yo La Tengo’s Elecr-O-Pura shaped my musical tastes forever.
The album in my opinion is a raw expression of emotions. Modest Mouse had a lot of EPs prior to this album, but this is such a cohesive thought of being over the town you live in and wanting to travel and be somewhere else. I suppose 18 year old Bobby could certainly relate with these ideas. The songs on this album are spread out like the countryside, long and vast, never seeming to end. Isaac Brocks vocals are sing songy but harsh at times. This variance is gives such grit and life to each track, something that’s definitely been list over the years.
The lyrics of each track are also nearly perfect. Each song is filled with one gem of a line that you end up getting stuck in your head, even 10 years later. It’s also pretty extraordinary that almost half the songs on the album are over 6 minutes each, a feat in and of itself. I can’t say enough good things about this album. If you’re not a fan of Modest Mouse I implore you to put this album on while you’re heading off on a long drive or if it’s late and night and you’re deep in thought.
For the wallpaper, Rick Murphy has done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of this album. A gigantic moon, which comes into play in a lot of their work, a car looking out over the ocean, and a hi-fi and record player. The piece is both nostalgic and contemporary at the same time, perhaps even romantic.
Check back next week and we’ll talk about The Lonesome Crowded West and feature another beautiful wallpaper.
I’ve had a crazy 48 hours, and I meant to post this yesterday, but here it is today, our March themed wallpaper. Yet again collaborating with Alyssa Nassner and her site Ten Paces and Draw, she’s gathered together two amazing artists to create this month’s wallpaper, Marisa Segion and Julianna Brion. Julianna did the initial sketch and then Marisa took it to it’s final state, the beautiful piece of art you see above. I asked Marissa to talk about about her process, and she was gracious enough to give us the run down.
Hi everyone! I’m thrilled that Ten Paces and Draw and The Fox is Black asked me to do a process post to share a bit about how the March desktop collaboration came together. I always love getting a sneak peek into the way some of my favourite illustrators work so I was flattered to be asked to put this together.
I usually start with a really rough sketch in photoshop so I can get a relative idea of where shapes are going to be laid out. I’ve never been a very big sketcher unless I have to for a client to clearly communicate my ideas. I tend to work things out as I’m going along. Most of the time this works out fine but sometimes there are a few snags compositionally/colour wise that I wish I had worked out more clearly in early stages.
Sometimes I’ll just block in a few shapes lightly to get a clearer idea of weight distribution throughout the piece. Then I’ll start to block in the main shapes.
Next, I add all of the line details and watercolour areas. I fiddle around a lot with colour balance at this point. I usually have a general colour palette in mind when I start a project (I knew I wanted to keep this desktop fresh with lots of bright greens. One of my favourite parts about spring is the week of bright yellow-greens when the new leaves budding on trees) but there are always a lot of little tweaks to be made to the palette in my head. The type usually gets added in sometime around now so that I can play with the balance of word/image and decide how I should colour it.
While working on this, I felt the entire piece was getting too green and wanted to add some punches of colour. I experimented with a few places to see how these could work in the overall balance of the piece. The clovers, flags, and mug were all various shades of the rainbow while working on this. The background was also light blue for about half of the time I was working on it. (There was even a tiny clump of mushrooms beside the mug at one point that were scrapped later).
The hue slider is my best friend in Photoshop. My friends can vouch that I am a complete hue slider fiend. I’ll use this tool if I am feeling stuck about something, getting tired of looking at my illustration, or if I feel I am nearing completion and want to see if there are any little colour possibilities I could have missed. Naturally, parts of my illustration always look ghastly when the hue is shifted and others look great. I like to fiddle with this throughout my working process and usually little shifts make it into the final illustration (which was the case for the leprechaun’s beard in this project).
At the very last stages, I added the coloured leaves which was just enough colour to get that pop that I was looking for. I also added the dotted lines in the background do give it a bit more depth and interest. This turned out to be one of those pieces that came together relatively easily. Little changes that were made throughout the process ended up just reverting to the original ideas and in the end a lot of my initial designs just ended up being right for the illustration. Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut!
Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into the way I work and thanks to Ten Paces and Draw and The Fox is Black for having me! And many thanks to my partner in crime on this, Julianna Brion, for the fantastic sketch!
A huge thank to Alyssa, Marisa and Julianna for getting together yet another awesome wallpaper. This is certainly a delightful way to bring your desktop into spring.
Yesterday I posted about the Triforce Tribute, an upcoming art show put together by Always With Honor and Jolby. Today we’ve got a very special wallpaper from them titled Trouble in Lost Woods, which is pretty bad ass. They’ve combined their lofty talents to create this image, which will eventually be a print, I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s available.
This is exactly what I think of when I think of Legend of Zelda. There’s the endless woods with scary characters lurking around every corner. All you can think of is getting more of those damn gems. Brilliant work, gang. You can learn more about the Tribute Triforce show by clicking here.
For those who’ve been following along, you may know of my ongoing fascination with the tale of Urashima Taro. For those who aren’t familiar:
It’s about a young boy who helps a sea turtle who’s being harassed by a group of children. The next day a giant sea turtle rises up from the ocean to greet Urashima Taro, who unknowingly saved the daughter of the Emperor of the Sea, Ryojin, who wants to see him to thank him. Urashima Taro is brought to the bottom of the ocean where he meets the princess again, only this time she is a beautiful maiden. He stays for a few days but then wants to go home, as his mother is ill. The princess then gives him a mysterious box called tamatebako which will protect him from harm but which she tells him never to open. When he gets back to the surface, nothing is the same – his mother and his village gone. It turns out that 300 years had passed while he was underwater, though it only felt like a few days. Distraught, he opens the box given to him by the princess, only to find that it contains his age, instantly becoming old and grayed. From the sea comes the sad, sweet voice of the princess: “I told you not to open that box. In it was your old age …”
This week is British illustrator Celine Loup, who provides the scene where Urashima meets the princess for the first time. Celine has created a fantastic illustration with tons of details. If you look at Urashima’s jacket you’ll see what I mean. It’s also great that she was able to include the fish swimming around, a subtle nod to the fact that they’re chilling underwater without being heavy handed. A big thanks to Celine for continuing the tale.
You can see the other Urashima Taro wallpapers by clicking here.
Last May, Philip posted about the work of Rob Hodgson, a British illustrator whose works have a really nice craft feeling to them. He uses a lot of intricate patterns in his work as well as having a really unique color palette. A few months back I asked him if he’d create a desktop wallpaper for the site and he happily obliged, creating the interesting scene you see above. He says:
I wanted to do something a little abstract as the background with a central focus that was a bit tighter (most people I know have a little image in the middle as their backgrounds). I’m thinking of the monitor/iphone/ipad as a kind of frame, so hopefully in real life surroundings the image will tie together like that. As for the content it’s kind of a dream place, a weird jungle I keep coming back to in my work.
I think it looks great. I love the color and the way he framed the image is really interesting and allows those people with lots of icons to have plenty of space.
Well it’s February already, if you can believe it. But they say time flies when you’re having fun, right? This month’s collaboration with Ten Paces and Draw features a combo attack from Rand Renfrow and Marisa Seguin. You may remember that Rand sketched out the January wallpaper which we featured last month. This month Marissa did the initial sketch and Rand finished everything up.
I love that this feels like a connected wallpaper from last month, like a slow iteration. I also think it’s great that they were able to include funny holiday dates in this one, as I never knew there was a Public Sleeping Day. I hope you all enjoy the wallpaper and be sure to check back next Wednesday for another desktop wallpaper.
We’ve reached the end of our beautiful ride with Denise Nouvion and her lovely photos, but I have an extra surprise in store. Along with her final wallpaper, a beautiful image of a polaroid of a bike, we have a brand new track to preview from her the band she’s in, Memoryhouse. Pretty cool, if you ask me. I want to give a huge thanks to Denise for working with me on this. I think her images are lovely and I’m so happy they’ve been added to our pool of creative desktops.
Day four of our series with Denise Nouvion has arrived, and another beautiful desktop along with it. Today’s image, for lack of a better term, is pretty epic, a cloudy mountain range off in the distance. I get a big Miyazaki vibe from this image, it’s spooky and cool. If you’re looking for an image to make you feel all zen like, this might be the one for you. Be sure to check back in tomorrow for the last image in the series.
I’m a bit late in the day on this, but here is our third wallpaper from photographer Denise Nouvion. I really like today’s wallpaper because it’s so abstract and how vibrant the colors. You can clearly tell that it’s a window, but then around the edges everything gets a bit fuzzy and the whole image gets really interesting. It almost looks like oil in water, with lots of beautiful, murky colors.
You may have seen yesterday that we’ve got a special Desktop Wallpaper Project this week featuring the photos of Denise Nouvion. She takes these really dreamy photos saturated with amazing colors. Today’s wallpaper is a gem, and also happens to be the cover to her band Memoryhouse’s upcoming album, The Slideshow Effect. The double exposure is a really nice touch to this image, making it feel like it’s almost moving. And from a tech point of view, there’s lots of room to put your desktop stuff for both Mac and PC users.
We don’t work a lot with photographers on The Desktop Wallpaper Project, but when we do it tends to be a grand affair. You may remember the series we did with Kim Høltermand and his amazing images. Well this time around we have the beautiful photos of Denise Nouvion, who by the look of her photos lives in a dream world. You may also know her as one half of the group Memoryhouse, who we’ve featured on the blog several times before as we’re big fans of them.
I definitely jumped at the chance to work with Denise in an artistic way, and so we’ll be releasing her photos as desktop wallpapers all week long. Pretty cool, right? Today’s image is an idyllic field of corn, which looks pretty inviting on a rainy day like today (or at least it is here in Los Angeles). She does magical things with the color of her images, you’ll see what I mean as the week progresses. Grab this wallpaper today, but be prepared to want to change it throughout the week as we go.
Seeing as it was ice week here on TFIB I thought it was fitting to have this week’s wallpaper be equally as chilly. So I reached out on Twitter and got a response back from the wonderful Mary Kate McDevitt, who you might remember from the wallpaper she collaborated on with Ten Paces and Draw. I had an idea of having a giant iceberg, and Mary Kate totally pulled through with an amazing design. Here’s how she got to her design:
As I was brushing up on my knowledge of icebergs, I was inspired by their lonesome lifestyle just drifting off to sea and decided icebergs live a bit like hermits. Which made me think of the Bjork song “Unison,” and the lyric “I thrive best hermit style.”
I love the texture and color and type she made, this wallpaper is amazing. A huge thanks to Mary Kate for busting this out so quickly for me and doing such a wonderful job. Check back next Wednesday for a brand new Sights & Sounds series, it should be great.