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.
I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve always been a fan of folk art. There’s a naivety and a simplicity and a beauty to it, and I think those same traits come across in today’s wallpaper from Harriet Seed. Harriet is a Brighton based illustrator who’s work reminds of old, Dutch cloth patterns. They’re brightly colored and filled with adorable critters and random fruits and the such.
I loved her patterns so much that I asked her to create one for today’s wallpaper, and I think it turned out wonderfully. I love how warm and rich the colors are, the golds and deep blues paired with the dar red is fantastic. I also love all the little critters, especially that she managed to get a little, black foxy in there. Definitely a good way to start the year.
What better way to symbolize the arrival of a new year than by swapping out that old desktop wallpaper with something new and vibrant? For the month of January, Alyssa over at Ten Paces and Draw has brought together two illustrators who’ve recently become personal favorites of mine, Julianna Brion and Rand Renfrow (can we briefly note that Rand Renfrow is the coolest name ever?).
We featured Julianna on the site rather recently and everyone went crazy for her work, so it’s great to have her on the site like this. I came across Rand’s work through my buddy Will Bryant. Rand makes these super hippy/90’s throwback illustrations which are totally fun, I especially like the characters he draws. Together they created a wallpaper that’s an idealized version of what January feels like. It’s a gorgeous scene that was first sketched out roughly by Rand, and then finished by Julianna. I think the two of them did a fantastic job. The colors are nice and bright and there’s plenty of room for your desktop icons.
A huge thanks to Alyssa for yet again teaming up a super rad pair of illustrators and to Julianna and Rand for killing it. I can’t wait for February already!
It’s nearly X-Mas, so why not celebrate the holidays with penguins and jellies? This week we have British illustrator Eda Akaltun at the helm, and I think she’s done a wonderful job. Her work uses a lot of found images mixed together with bright colors and random shapes, creating a timeless but nostalgic feeling.
For her wallpaper, she took a wrapping paper design she created for Nobrow and wallpaper-ized it for us. The result is pretty cute, and would probably look awesome on your mom’s monitor. Just change it for you, she’ll be so excited! A big thanks to Eda for a beautiful wallpaper, and check back next week for something special.
This week on the DWP we have a very special artist that I’m really lucky to have be a part of the project. Sol Lewitt was an American artist known for his minimal and conceptual work, creating both paintings and sculptures that are always amazing to see. But he was also an avid photographer and took a number of photographs of New York’s Lower East Side taken back in 1979. Morgans Hotel Group, along with Paula Cooper Gallery, are currently displaying 120 of the photos on the side of the Mondrian Soho in New York. Awesome for us, the folks at Morgans approached me about using some of the photos for a wallpaper, and of course I said yes.
It’s pretty fantastic to see the world of late 70’s New York through the eyes of such an artistic genius. As I was selecting images I couldn’t help but wonder what drove him to shoot some of these photos. Was it the colors? The naturally beautiful compositions of some haphazard posters, wheat pasted to a wall? Also, when I look at the layout of the photos, I can’t help but think of how much it looks like Instagram, only 30 years removed.
I hope you enjoy the wallpaper, and check back next week for a winter-y, adorable wallpaper.
Today’s wallpaper from Jesse Tise just might make your eyes melt, and that’s why I love it. I’ve become buddies with Jesse over the last few months because he had sent me a few things in the mail, and they were totally awesome. He also happens to live and work in South Pasadena, so he’s a local to boot. His work is great because it’s so bright and fun, and always has space monsters or kaiju or abstract landscapes. His wallpaper reflects all of these, and he was even kind enough to make some icons for the wallpaper, which you can download by clicking here.
A big thanks to Jesse for making a rad wallpaper. Be sure to check back next Wednesday for something completely opposite, and totally brilliant.
I had planned on posting this yesterday, but unfortunately I had some crazy Internet outages and couldn’t find the time. Nonetheless, our monthly wallpaper from the gang at Ten Paces and Draw yet again does not disappoint. This month we’ve got the combined talents of Mary Kate McDevitt and Jen Mussari, two very talented women who we’ve featured on the site before. This month it was Mary Kate who came up with the original sketch, and Jen who decided to take her sketch a step further and cut the whole thing out. In her own words:
This time I wanted to conceptualize Mary Kate McDevitt’s sketch in a way that she probably wasn’t expecting when she originally drew it. I altered the typography slightly and added decorative elements that are more in line with my personal style and went through a couple X-ACTO blades to get it just right. I had Jonnie (Jen’s boyfriend) photograph it in such a way that it almost looks digital, until you start to notice the imperfections in cutting.
I love what they did with December because it’s got so much texture and life to it. Plus it doesn’t succumb to any of the trappings of traditional holiday designs, just some amazing typography and some precision with an x-acto knife!