Even if you don’t recognize the name, anyone with a computer monitor and functioning eyes in the late ’90s to early 2000’s will easily recognize the wallpapers of Digital Blasphemy. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to ask a few questions and get to know the artist behind the massively popular wallpapers, Ryan Bliss.
As well as the popular renders the site is known for, Digital Blasphemy has also expanded to mobile wallpapers, Xbox 360 themes, and more. They can all be found on his site, www.digitalblasphemy.com, as well as the Google Play Store.
Ryan has done a number of interviews in the past, so I tried to sift through those and avoid duplicates and try to get some unique insights into the mind of the guy making wallpapers we’ve all been using for more than a decade. Thanks again to Ryan for putting up with my weird, prying questions and and letting us know a little more about you!
Is there one particular render/wallpaper you can think of as a turning point that boosted your popularity to the point that you could do this full time?
There wasn’t really any one image (Fluorescence really took off after I started the Members Gallery). Instead I looked at the thousands of people who were coming daily to check out my gallery. When it occurred to me that I was spending as much time making content for my site as I was working my daily job, I knew I had to choose one or the other.
How old were you when Digital Blasphemy started to take off?
I was 24 when I got my first PC and 26 when I started DB. I was 28 when I left my job at ACT to work full-time on my artwork.
You stated previously [on your about page] that you initially uploaded your work just as a way to practice web design. Any idea how people actually started finding it?
I submitted a few wallpapers to the various shareware sites (TUCOWS, Winfiles, etc) and people found me that way. Once a wallpaper was on someone’s screen, however, it was easy for someone else to check it out and ask the owner where they got it. Most of my traffic came from word-of-mouth. It still does, but it slowed down because more and more people use mobile screens that no one else sees.
What is/was your favorite/least favorite programs to render in?
My favorite has to be Lightwave. All these years and I’ve only scratched the surface of its possibilities. Least favorite? That would have to be World Builder. No ray-tracing and a really strange way to build your scenes. I made some great stuff with it, but it was a real pain to work with. I’m not surprised they are out-of-business today.
Are there any specific inspirations for your pieces? Or are they mostly just ideas you have floating around in your head?
Some have specific inspirations and some are random. Sometimes I just want to learn a new software feature so I will create something that uses it. Sometimes I will be playing a game or reading a book and it will evoke an image that I have to realize. It’s always different.
Desktop wallpapers are an oddly personal thing, especially when so many of them come from one place. Do you get a lot of fans sending you email about how much your work means to them?
Sure and I love it. I create these wallpapers primarily for myself but it is great to know that they have brought joy to others. The best is when I hear from a fan who was inspired by my work to explore their own creativity. That is when I most feel like I have contributed something to the world by paying forward the inspiration that I have received.
I’ve noticed you’re quick to adapt to new places that could use a beautiful wallpaper (Facebook banners, game consoles, Chrome themes, mobile phones). Any idea where you’ll be taking your art next? (Smartwatches, Google Glass, etc)?
Great question. I’ve heard of people developing digital art frames that hang on your wall. I think my renders would work well there. Beyond that? Every day there are more screens in in our lives. Each one is an opportunity to display my work 😉
Where, if anywhere, is the weirdest place you’ve ever seen your work pirated/posted?
Someone sent me a photo of a head shop in Bali using my Fluorescence mushrooms for their storefront shingle.
If you were going to start Digital Blasphemy on today’s internet, do you think you could? What would you do differently?
I don’t think I would or could. I started it at a time when the only way to get an image online was to scan it using very expensive hardware and slow data speeds. I got around that by creating my own renders. We are awash in images these days and I don’t think anyone is looking for new sources for them.
One thing I would definitely do differently is that I would choose a name that doesn’t turn off religious people.
What was some of the best advice ever given to you that helped you along the way?
Don’t feed the trolls. There will always be people who want to tear you down or be negative, especially online. Artists tend to fixate on the negative feedback while ignoring the positive. Letting the negative stuff slide has helped my psyche immensely.
What advice would you give other artists?
Don’t let fear of your work being “stolen” keep you from sharing it online. Realize that it going to happen but it is simply a cost of the wide exposure available.
And because this is a geek culture website I couldn’t possibly let you leave without asking… DC or Marvel?
I grew up with the Super Friends so they come first for me. I do have a soft spot for Spiderman though and I love the Avengers/Guardians of the Galaxy films.
If you’d like to keep up with Ryan’s work on Digital Blasphemy (including a paid subscription to get unlimited access to the beautiful full resolution wallpapers), you can find that of course at www.digitalblasphemy.com. Now is the perfect time to atone for all those times you Google image searched, pirated, or otherwise found ways around paying for all those wallpapers you used as a broke teenager. The member galleries are still constantly updated!
He is also active on all kinds of social media!
Be sure to give him a shout out and follow wherever you can.