It might be winter in the northern hemisphere but today’s wallpaper from Tymn Armstrong is a welcoming, sunny image. Tymn is a Florida based illustrator and designer who’s work is clean, bold and simple. Projects like the logo he did for video artist Pogo are inventive and timeless looking, and the physical stuff he makes are totally rad. I really love his wallpaper because it’s so warm and cheery. I put this as my wallpaper and it literally glows, it’s really, really nice. A big thanks to Tymn for making this!
This week was an off week because I actually didn’t have any wallpapers that I thought were ready, so I decided to make one myself. There isn’t really any backstory to this, I was just trying to make something that was simple and work well as the background to your computer/devices. I used my secret asset, a corner of the internet with the most awesome, random imagery, and was able to massage it into what you see above. It seems like some sort of fake fashion label or something, but it’s all made up! I hope you all dig it.
A few weeks ago I posted a wallpaper from Dan Matutina which illustrated a scene from the story, Urashima Taro. I’m pretty intrigued by the story, so I took to Twitter to see if anyone else would be interested in illustrating the story, and I had some pretty great people reach out. The first was Juan Chavarria Jr., an illustrator from San Diego who has a really unique, minimal style.
He illustrated the scene where Urashima Taro opens the tamatebako, instantly turning him into an old man. The subtlety to this piece is what sells it for me. You don’t need to see Urashima to know that something bad has happened. A huge thanks to Juan for doing such a great job on this, I’ll keep posting more of these as I get them.
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Here’s what Alex Synge had to say about his wallpaper:
I love the album, and know it well from repeated listens over the years, and maybe this was a factor in making it hard for me to come up with something that I thought could do it some justice with. Initially I was thinking about the name “isn’t anything” – about nothingness, black-holes and vacuums in space – as well how lush and dreamy MBV sound musically. Perhaps a little bit obvious, but I went with it for a while to see what I came up with. I was playing around with photos of space featuring black-holes, photocopying them repeatedly and scanning them. Some of it looked OK, but not especially interesting or unique. I was also a bit worried that a desktop featuring black-holes and distant galaxies, etc. might look a bit close to default desktop on an off-the-shelf computer.
So I went back to the drawing-board, and was reading up on the album; how and when it was recorded, when it was released, etc. Something that has always jumped out to me about MBV’s music is the duality in it; how two sometimes seemingly opposing elements join together. Kevin Shields describes their music as being “pure noise and pure melody”. Even song-titles on the album like “Soft as Snow (but Warm Inside)”, “I Can See It (but I Can’t Feel It)” and “(When You Wake) You’re Still in a Dream” stress this mix of marrying opposites. I love how they talk about their sound; despite how insanely loud the guitars are, how they try to make them sounds like ghosts of themselves by using reverse reverb:
“The thing is, the sound literally isn’t all there,” Shields explained. “It’s actually the opposite of rock’n’roll. It’s taking all the guts out of it, there’s just the remnants, the outline.” Isn’t Anything’s engineer Dave Anderson later claimed that Shields had got him to erase all the actual playing from the record and keep only the reverse reverb after-image of the chord-strum. The technicalities of how MBV got their unique sound are secrets that a legion of bands scrabbled to work out in the years following Isn’t Anything. What matters–then and now–is the effect on the listener, and why it struck such a resonant chord with audiences at that point in pop history. As Butcher explained to me, “It’s like that bit in the middle of “You Made Me Realise”, where it just levitates. You know it’s there, and you know it’s coming, but when it happens, half the time you forget it’s on. Your mind completely wanders, you forget it, then you remember it.” – Spin Magazine
So with the imagery, I wanted to allude to some kind of a duality as well, and to combine two very different worlds. “Isn’t Anything” was released on the 1st November 1988 – this day also marks Mexican “Day of the Dead” (Día de los Muertos) – a two-day festival when friends and family gather to remember loved-ones who have passed away. Even though my knowledge of the festival is very scant, I thought it could be nice to reference it in some way in the work, especially as we’re now aiming to release our wallpapers around that time (close to when “Loveless” was released as well). During the festival, the dead are honoured with sugar skulls and marigolds, among other things. I love skull imagery, but given that you see it everywhere these days, and that there are countless people with much more skill than me who draw and render amazing images of skulls, I thought I’d turn to margigolds:
“Its flower, the cempasúchil is also called the flor de muertos (“flower of the dead”) in Mexico and is used in the Día de los Muertos celebration every November 2nd. The word cempasúchil (also spelled cempazúchil) comes from the Nahuatl term for the flower zempoalxochitl, literally translated as “twenty flower”. In Thai language it is called DaoRuang, literally translated as “star glittering”. Water infused with the fragrant essential oil of the flower was used to wash corpses inHonduras, and the flower is still commonly planted in cemeteries.”
I love that the Thai translation of their name for the flower is “star glittering”. A lovely way to talk about MBV’s music too I suppose. I was thinking back to the initial imagery of space, and tying that back into it. I picked up a beautiful (and amazingly cheap) old French lithograph of a marigold off eBay, along with an old National Geographic space-themed issue from 1983, and set about making a collage. This is the result…
My incredibly-long winded explanation aside; it’s a collage of flowers and stars that I hope in some way captures the spirit and feel of an album I love.
Anniversaries are always good occasions to celebrate, so why not the 23rd and 20th anniversary of a pair of classic albums? Today’s wallpapers are technically Sights & Sounds installments, but done in one amazing post. The albums I’m speaking of are Isn’t Anything and Loveless from the Irish band, My Bloody Valentine.
With the release of these albums they helped to usher in the idea of shoegaze, which was defined by band members staring down at their feet as they used effects pedals to create a blaring cacophony of sound. With the release of Isn’t Anything back in 1988 My Bloody Valentine the band had managed to find the sweet spot of Jesus and Mary Chain, the wail of Sonic Youth and make something quite their own. With the follow up in 1991 of Loveless, they refined that sound to a new level and made one of the most revered album of the last 20 years. You can hear their sound in many bands today, M83 being a great example, and just how important they were to the generations that followed.
Figuring out who to get to make these wallpapers was a cinch, since our very own TFIB author Philip Kennedy is Irish. He, along with his buddy Alex Synge, tackled My Bloody Valentine’s only two albums, and they did a fantastic job. Alex’s design is stunning, it honestly makes me think of something Peter Saville might have come up with for a New Order album, minus the crazy color coding system. Philip’s wallpaper is a perfect representation of Loveless, simply put, it’s a beautiful mess.
The guys also put some of their thoughts down as to why they created their wallpapers, I’d suggest reading them both, especially Alex’s. He went into crazy detail and gives you so much insight into his production.
I’m a bit late on this, I meant to post it earlier in the day, but it’s still nearly the first of November so it still counts! As I mentioned last month, I’ll be posting a monthly wallpaper to adorn your desktop thanks to the super talented Alyssa Nassner of Ten Paces and Draw and her trusty partner-in-crime, which will rotate from month to month. For November she’s joined by Mary Kate McDevitt, a Philadelphia based illustrator who’s a major whiz when it comes to hand-drawn type.
This time around the design was sketched out by Alyssa and then finished by Mary Kate, who in all honesty, may have done one of the most beautiful pieces of type I’ve ever seen. My honest reaction in my email to Alyssa was “OH MY FUCKING GOD IT’S GORGEOUS.” You have to see this super large to see all the details that Mary Kate poured into this piece. The texture and the color of the leaves looks immaculate, I really can’t say enough about it. A huge thanks to Alyssa for yet again coming through with an amazing wallpaper, and to Mary Kate for putting so much love and detail in this. Check back later today for our weekly Wednesday wallpaper, and December 1st for another wallpaper from Alyssa and Ten Paces and Draw.
In the three years I’ve been running The Desktop Wallpaper Project I’ve made a concerted effort to not use an artist more than once. This is only because I want to keep introducing new creatives, but there are times when I go back to someone who’s work I really enjoy. Dan Matutina is a perfect example of that. His previous wallpaper featured an epic battle between a pirate and a ninja, which is still one of my favorites. This time around we decided to collaborate a bit on the wallpaper.
Over the past few months I’ve become interested in the story of Urashima Taro. 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 …”
I thought this would be fun to reinterpret a bit, instead saying that Urashima Tar? woke up in the distant future, filled with all kinds of fun sci-fi stuff. So Dan was awesome enough to take a stab at this, illustrating the point when Urashima Tar? returns to the surface, accidentally being caught the fishing captain. Here’s how describes it:
It’s Taro-san meeting the 3 futuristic fishermen. We see the fisherman on their hover dock. It’s like a normal dock with boosters. :D We see the Taro-san getting caught by the captain’s fishing line that’s why he surfaced.
I love it. I think Dan does amazing things with texture and color, he gives his work such life. There’s also a minimalism that really makes these work as desktop wallpapers. A huge thanks to Dan for hustling this wallpaper out to me quickly, I’m so happy with how it turned out.
About a week ago I tweeted something to the effect of, “Write someone you admire and tell them you appreciate them, try to start a friendship from that connection.” Taking my own advice, I decided to write an artist named Gregory Euclide, who many of you will know as the guy who’s work is featured on the new Bon Iver album. I had recently seen his work in person at the PULSE Art Fair and was taken with how dimensional it all is. I spoke with a woman from David B. Smith Gallery (who represents him) and she mentioned how his work is more like a mixed media sculpture, which doesn’t really come across on the Bon Iver cover. And it’s true, when you look at Gregory’s work on his site, you see just how much depth there is, that’s it’s not just a large illustration, he’s creating miniature worlds.
So I wrote Gregory, and is it turns out he reads the site, which was awesome to hear, and he agreed to create a wallpaper set of the image you see on the cover of Bon Iver’s record. Each size is actually a different detail of the large image, so you should check out each one. And remember, you can always use a larger size for a smaller monitor. A big thanks to Gregory for hooking us up, and remember, it’s easy to meet people, you just have to take a chance.
Edit: If you’d like the full image you see above, click here, I’ve attached it as a 2560x1440px image to fit pretty much any monitor.
Seeing the handiwork of a talented illustrator is always fascinating, like seeing the magic in something. When I received Micron Hero’s wallpaper (his real name is Jake Hollomon) I got that same feeling, I could see all the love and details he put into his wallpaper. Jake is based out of Portland, he makes great illustrations and designs rad stuff and created the most recent look book for a line of bags called Lemolo Baggage. No biggie, right?
For his wallpaper he was inspired by the Beck song The Golden Age, taking the main lyric and visualizing it. I think it’s a beautiful and fitting interpretation. A big thanks t Jake for doing such a great job and putting so much work into this.
During a lull in dinner last night, I checked Twitter to see what was going on, to read what people were saying about Steve Jobs. As I flicked the screen of my iPhone I noticed that my buddy Jon Contino had tweeted “Steve” and then a link. I was curious, so I clicked and I saw the image you see above, a fitting tribute from I guy I respect to a man we both respect. There isn’t a lot to say, only that I wanted to share this because I thought it was touching and well done. It comes in desktop sizes, and of course, iPhone and iPad sizes as well. A big thanks to Jon for sending these to me late last night.
I’m always trying to come up with new things to do with The Desktop Wallpaper Project. Though the artists are always shifting, the concept is the same, and thus, I get bored. About a month ago I got an email from Alyssa Nassner, a Maryland based illustrator and one half of Ten Paces and Draw, a collaborative art project. The idea of Ten Pace and Draw is a pretty great one, where one artist sends a sketch which is then finished by another artist. We thought it would be cool to utilize this process for desktop wallpapers.
We’ll be releasing a wallpaper on the 1st of the month, every month, which celebrates something in that month. It could be something as obvious as a holiday or as random as a John Lennon’s birthday. It’s another great way to get you free art to put on your desktop.
October’s combo is a piece by Alyssa and recent Sights & Sounds contributor Jen Mussari. It started as a sketch from Jen and then was finished by Alyssa, a simple message done in a beautiful, typographic way. They did a beautiful job on this piece, I love the style and look of the October, especially thoes weird wavering parts in the middle of each letter.
A big thanks to Alyssa and Jen for doing such a great job, and mark your calendars to check the site on the 1st of every month for more wallpaper goodness.
Several months back I came across the paintings of Seattle based Tyson Anthony Roberts, a guy creating work that reminded me of the background elements in Super Mario Bros. Though his paintings are simple they’re filled with so many beautiful colors and perfectly oriented shapes. So when Tyson hit me up about having a wallpaper on the site, I couldn’t say no! The image above is one of my favorites of his work, and it looks super rad on your desktop, iPad or iPhone. A big thanks to Tyson for contributing, be sure to check back next Wednesday for another new wallpaper.
Back in July I posted about Tim Lahan, a New York based artist/designer who has this beautiful, colorful style that looks like it’s been created with a box of digital markers. When I look at his work it just feels really positive and beautiful, I mean, how can you not enjoy it? He can even make a bunch of bags of garbage look beautiful. He also just updated his portfolio site which looks great, I love the the simple grid and the random feeling of it.
So I was really excited when he told me he’d do a desktop wallpaper, and I think he’s done an awesome job. It’s so simple but it’s so clever! There’s a dude chilling in your computer! I’m going to say (though I don’t know for sure) that the guy is actually Tim, and now he lives inside your computer. I’ve had this on my computer since the weekend and I love it, it’s simple and it makes people laugh. I should also point out that the iPad and iPhone versions are custom and different from the wallpapers, so be sure to check them out as well. Thanks for the rad wallpapers Tim!
Last November I shared some emails with Kyle Poff after I wrote a bit about his work. He’s a brilliant designer who does such amazing work in branding, packaging, and logos, but did you know he’s also an accomplished illustrator? As you can see from the wallpaper above he’s picked an awesome subject and given it a rad looking treatment. Sure, it’s a simple design, but it’s great for those of you who hate busy designs. Be sure to check out more of Kyle’s work over on Flickr as well, he’s got some really cool looking experiments going on.
After 7 albums and lots of amazing artwork we’ve finally reached the end of our Animal Collective Sights & Sounds series. We’re finishing things up with their last album Merriweather Post Pavillion which came out back in 2009. Unbeknownst to me, the album was made without Deacon, who normally plays guitar on the tracks. So they made an entire album without guitars, relying only on samplers to fill the void. It’s weird that I never noticed that the guitars were missing at all, but I guess that shows just how talented these guys are.
To handle the artistic duties on this wallpaper is Anthony Mattox, a digital artist and interaction designer from Baltimore. I love Anthony’s work because it’s pushing that weird boundary between art and technology, where the abstract data becomes beautiful looking designs. Here’s what he had so say about his wallpapers.
Merriweather Post Pavilion has the most frenetic and persistent energy throughout all of their albums. Animal Collective mashes together so many strange little sounds to create a droning, rhythmic, and optimistic sound. Inspired by this, I wanted to create an image with the same explosive energy and complexity.
I made a script using Processing which generates images by repetitively branching circles. As it grows, the branching algorithm itself evolves to create a variety of different patterns and textures and forms a complex knot of twisting tendrils and clustered circles.
A big thanks to Anthony for the beautiful wallpaper and the biggest thanks goes out to Andy Mangold. Andy did such a great job of choosing an eclectic, talented bunch of artists and I appreciate all of his work. Check back next week as we get back into a more regular groove of things with more wallpapers from amazing designers and artists.
Creating desktop wallpapers around an artists catalog of music might not interest everyone, but for me it’s partly like cultural anthropology. Every time a new wallpaper comes out I do my bit of research on the album, learning more about a collection of songs than I ever had before. For example, this week’s Animal Collective influenced wallpaper is based on Strawberry Jam, which in fact was inspired by the desert. The band recorded the album in Tucson, Arizona because they liked the idea of recording in the desert, something they had never done before.
I also thought it was interesting how the name of the album came about, a chance encounter with a travel sized pack of strawberry jam.
The name Strawberry Jam came from singer and drummer Panda Bear as he and the band were on a plane headed to Greece for a show. Upon receiving his complimentary tray of food, he opened up the packet of strawberry jam that had been provided for the bread. As he removed the cover of the packet, he was drawn to the look of the glistening jam, and he expressed his desire for the production of their new album to sound like the jam looked, “that is to say, something that’s really synthetic and sharp and futuristic looking,” but also “tangy and sweet, almost in a kind of aggressive way in terms of the way it tastes”.
Handling the job of interpreting the album is a lady named Jen Mussari, an illustrator with an amazing eye for color and composition. I remember when I first saw Jen’s wallpaper and I started laughing out loud because it’s such a random image, but that’s exactly why I think it’s so great. The colors are great as well, and I love the handmade feeling of the piece. As it turns out, the image is based on kind of a sad premise from the last track, which I’ve posted above for you to listen to.
“This is a narrative image based on the last song from Strawberry Jam, Derek. Up until this point the album wavers back and forth between carnal, physical ideas (like eating, cooking, etc.) and super-trippy transcendental ideas that Animal Collective is known for. Derek is a regretful memory about a family dog that passed away from neglect. The boys who own him witness a moment when Derek speaks English, and then passes away in the night.”
I owe a big thanks to Jen for making such a rad wallpaper and for all the support she’s given throughout the project. And again, a big thanks to the curator of this series Andy Mangold for picking such a talented group of individuals. Check back next Wednesday for our last wallpaper of the series, Merriweather Post Pavillion.
It’s Wednesday and we’re continuing our visual journey into the albums of Baltimore based band Animal Collective, today’s album being Feels. At this point in Animal Collective’s career, they were putting out an album a year, which is a feat for any band. Feels feels to me like what an Animal Collective album is supposed to be, it has all of those necessary ingredients like frantic drum beats, complex vocal layering and and a piano that’s become naturally out of tune. It’s one of my favorites because of it’s diverse range of songs, which honestly go all over the place. My favorite song off of the album is Banshee Beat because it shows that range really nicely. It starts out quietly, with a strumming guitar and a faint piano, until the drums start to slow filter in and the song bursts.
Handling the artwork for the album is Christopher Muccioli, a Baltimore designer/illustrator who’s work I totally admire. His site is a joy to explore, he plays with some really interesting ways of presenting his work. The work itself is annoyingly good, with lots of love in the area of screen printing, both t-shirts and posters. I feel like his love of screen printing is blended into the vibe of his wallpaper as well, with this big smears of paint dripping down over the cymbal and drum, which play such a pivotal role in this album. Here’s what Chris had to say about his wallpaper.
Listening to the album “Feels” I focused in on the various sound characteristics that come out through the dynamics of the album. Some of the most energetic parts of the album happen through the use of a cadencing floor tom which has influenced a number of bands and musicians around today and being a drummer myself I felt it appropriate to focus on. The splashy crash on tracks like Did You See The Words? and The Purple Bottle add a lot of color and dynamics that really drive the songs and pull you in.
I think the simplicity of this wallpaper is a big plus, I know how a lot of you readers are! A huge thanks to Chris for participating and yet again, another huge thanks to Andy Mangold for being an awesome curator. Check back next Wednesday when we tackle Strawberry Jam, the wallpaper is fantastic, I promise you’ll love it.
I’m super excited this morning because we’ve finally reached Sung Tongs, one of my favorite records and a place where I think most Animal Collective fans start their collections. At this point they had recorded 3 albums in two years, although this album was recorded only by Avey Tare and Panda Bear. To me, Sung Tongs feels like they finally felt comfortable with the music they were making, like they really started to understand just what they were doing.
Some of the songs on this album are some of my favorites of theirs overall. I’ve posted Kids on Holiday above as the sample because it’s possibly one of my favorite Animal Collective songs. There’s a pace and rhythm to this song that’s unlike any I’ve ever heard, it’s hypnotic. Then you have songs like Winter’s Love, which I would personally describe as a beautiful track. Split in two, the beginning melody acts as a prelude to what’s to come. Even the 12:37 song Visiting Friends is beautiful, a slow hush of guitars over a trickle of random-seeming, ambient sounds.
As for the wallpaper today, I can’t think of anyone better to interpret this then the curator of this series, Andy Mangold. Andy has such a vibrancy to his design style, all of his work feels so crisp and perfect. He’s also a master of all mediums, doing everything from posters, branding, package design, even a wood block calendar with custom designed numerals.
With Andy’s wallpaper for Sung Tongs I feel like he’s totally captured the energy and beauty of the album. I think if someone didn’t know better they’d think this was the real album cover. It’s colorful without being jarring and there’s lots of room for your icons, for Mac or Windows kids. Here’s what he had to say about his wallpaper.
Sung Tongs feels very childish to me, in a good way. There is an immaturity and naivete that gives the whole album an air of authenticity and rawness. The image of the children playing on the jungle-gym is how I choose to imagine David and Noah creating the album, experimenting, probing, exploring, and above all else, laughing.
The diversity of sounds and sonic textures is staggering, especially considering it was all created by only two people. I tried to represent this variation visually with the spectrum of colored, textured bars layered over the imagery.
A very big thanks to Andy for not only this beautiful wallpaper but for curating so many amazing artists. The talented folks chosen have made some of the best wallpapers out there, and I owe him a lot. Thanks Andy! Check back next week when we explore Feels.
Continuing on this fine collection of Animal Collective inspired wallpapers, we’ve got this rad piece by Baltimore illustrator Niv Bavarsky. He was tasked with tackling the challenge that is Here Comes the Indian, Animal Collective’s first official release as AC with all the members from the current line-up you know and love. This was their fourth album, and a vast departure from their previous Campfire Songs. I think the phrase ‘psych-folk’ started getting tossed around because of their practice of taking a more traditional acoustic guitar sound and messing it up with electronic effects. Honestly, this is a tough album to listen to, but I think Niv did an amazing job.
As you’ll see in his personal statement, his combination of both digital and physical is a great way to approach this. The album is this mess of sounds and his wallpaper reflects that really well. I also thought it was funny that he chose to use a campfire for his wallpaper, drawing upon an element from the last album and tweaking it for this wallpaper. Overall I’m a big fan of his work. There’s something about his style that’s so uniquely him, his painterly lines and his great color choices. Here’s what he had to say about his wallpaper:
“Here Comes the Indian” combines a lot of disparate elements: harsh electronic noise, organic improvisation, sadness and celebration. I set out to make something in this spirit, working instinctively and combining traditional & digital process.”
A big thanks to Niv for such a great, handmade wallpaper and to our curator Andy Mangold for yet another ace choice. Check back next week for Sung Tongs!
I’m so excited for today’s wallpaper, I think that Baltimore illustrator Andrea Kalfas has made one of the most beautiful wallpapers I’ve ever featured. I’m also really happy that she created a wallpaper for the Animal Collective album Campfire Songs. Not quite an album and not considered an EP, Campfire Songs was recorded by the full roster of Animal Collective, though the Geologist didn’t perform on this one, but it is the first album to feature Deakin. A fun fact, the entire album was recorded in one take on a cold night in Novemeber outside on a screen porch in Maryland.
As for Andrea, she has her BFA in illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art and now is a freelance illustrator. Her work is really lighthearted and extremely expressive, with lots of bold lines and inspiring color palettes. The details and textures in her wallpaper are so beautiful, and the subtle touch of purple in the large moth in the front is simply perfection. Here’s what she had to say about her wallpaper:
“Not surprisingly, listening to Campfire Songs led to to the obvious image of sitting around a campfire in the woods at night, but I felt as though I was far away, beyond the reach of the fire and the songs. It felt as though the music wasn’t meant for me, that it was a private concert just for the singer and the insects were the only audience to it. I wanted to draw lots of little nocturnal bugs, flying around and enjoying the music I could only hear from far off, unable to see the performer.”
A big thanks to Andrea for such a lovely wallpaper, and a bigger thank to Andy Mangold for curating this batch of wallpaper and finding such great artists and designers.