December 18, 2013#

2013 favorite environment design

Astounded at the depth and originality behind a lot of environment creation this year.

I know these are all over the board, but here are the environments that inspired me most this year. Hope to capture the energy and magic found in these in future worlds I create.

7. Richard Shaw – In a Flat Land  — a wordless comic with a Myst-like sense of exploration and discovery, in an intricate environment and landscape with a heavy emphasis on line.


6. Sam Alden – Hawaii 1997 — Sam tells a story with his environments better than anyone I’ve found. The quick, messy pencil work in his Hawaii 1997 comic reflects the hazy memory of a childhood vacation. The blurred POV scene as the protagonist removes his glasses after jumping in the ocean? Brilliant. My favorite though is Sam’s use of light and shadows to bring life into his worlds.

hawaii 1997

5. Kilian Eng – various — Kilian Eng environments absolutely exist on their own. The scenes are built in a way that almost tell an entire history of a distant, unknown land with just one look. Actually, they often appear to simultaneously exist in both the ancient past and a far off future. Everything’s mysterious, spacey, and wonderful.

kilian eng

4. Beeple – everydays — Beeple is madness. He has and continues to make an image everyday currently for over 2,400 consecutive days. Nearly every image of which is a profoundly rich, detailed, well executed, masterpiece. It’s … I’m jealous. Working this year in Cinema 4D, his ‘everydays’ are often environment based with tons of unique geometric, sci-fi, robotic worlds to dive into.


3. Scott Chambliss and team* – “Nibiru” on Star Trek: Into Darkness — Alright, I don’t know anything about Star Trek lore… But this world really caught my attention. I think it was how it shared similarities to Earth in principal (by having vegetation, a body of water, volcanic mountain, etc.) but was still quite unique in practice. I loved all the flowing red reeds. Felt like the whole world was a living, breathing thing. Part of the success here was how out of place the trek crew seemed compared to the locals. A very tribal world.
*yeah.. really don’t know who does what on movies so this is probably wrong.


2. Tod Polson, Chuck Jones, & Maurice Noble – The Noble Approach — I’m so glad this book exists. Part tribute to the late Maurice Noble (legendary creator of animation backgrounds found in classics like Road Runner and Marvin the Martian) and part instruction and philosophy from Noble himself, this book inspires artists to really ask, “how does this background support the dialogue and story?” His sense of perspective and space is instantly recognizable and works on so many levels. In my opinion, Noble’s innovative flat designs are the forerunner to the entire flat trend which continues to spread into UI design, logos, illustrations, etc.


1. Monolith Soft – Xenoblade Chronicles — Okay, okay. This game came out in 2010. But it only made it to America last year and in my hands this year, and it hands down brought the most interesting and inviting environments I’ve encountered in some time. The Xenoblade worlds (called Bionis and Mechonis) make tremendous use of space. Each world is literally is a gigantic monolith, so the world tends to flow up and down instead of in a curved sphere. This allows for a really intricate balance among land masses as paths tend to float to and from each other leading gradually upward.

Besides the structure, the actual environments include everything from breathtaking waterfalls in the midst of a sun-soaked jungle hazed by heat waves to a cavernous, jagged mountain filled with icy structures reflecting the light of the night sky. Monolith Soft is currently working on what seems to be a spiritual successor, currently entitled “X” (see second pic below). Looking forward to exploring this one hopefully next year.


December 16, 2013#

2013 favorite music

2013 music

Here’s the thing. Made a Top 20 list of my favorite albums this year.
It was woefully obvious.
And since everybody released something this year, my list was just all the big releases (RAM, 20/20, m b v) mixed with any from my favorite artists (Silver Wilkinson, IAMACEO, Beautiful Rewind).

favorite albums

So instead of that, here’s the four that really stood out with favorite track.

4. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven – “Chrome Country”
3. Son Lux – Lanterns – “No Crimes”
2. Disclosure – Settle – “White Noise”
1. Shugo Tokumaru – In Focus? – “Decorate”

most ‘sonic the hedgehog’ album
I’ve got a running playlist of music that reminds me of the legendary Genesis-era Sonic 1 and 2 soundtracks (by Dreams Come True’s Masato Nakamura) or the Sonic 3 soundtrack (by a bunch of people and probably Michael Jackson). Easy winner this year.

Thundercat – Apocalypse – “Special Stage”

most mesmerizing song
Heard it once and listened to this song on repeat for about 36 hours straight. Geometric track.

Actress – Silver Cloud – “Voodoo Posse Chronic Illusion”

adelaide’s favorite
Obviously, there’s a lot of old stuff to cover, but as far as 2013 goes, she sure likes to groove to…

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories – “Lose Yourself to Dance”

most anticipated for 2014
Levi Watson (Atlanta edition) is way cool. I’ve been on Neptune all year and can’t wait to visit The Glass Kingdom next year. (…may have even gotten to collaborate on this a bit…)

Levi Watson – The Glass Kingdom

Listen to most of these here on Spotify. (Thundercat = Brainfeeder release = probably doesn’t have a streaming home). Listen to Levi Watson’s last album Neptune here.

December 16, 2013#

2013 favorite album art

I love great album packaging & design. It’s gotta look interesting, bring something new, and compliment the music. Here are the most inspiring (to me) this year. Well done to all the artists involved.

7. Bibio – Silver Wikinson — Album art by Bibio. Read about his process here.


6. Washed Out – Paracosm — Album art by Sara Cynwar

5. Deafheaven – Sunbather — Album art by Nick Steinhardt


4. Anamanaguchi – Endless Fantasy — Album art by Andrew Strasser

3. Falty DL – Hardcourage — Album art by La Boca


2. Ital Tek – Control — Album art by Peter Olschinsky


1. Gold Panda – Half of Where You Live (specifically enjoyed the art for “Brazil” single) — Album art by Andy Gilmore (who is just simply the best.)



October 31, 2013#

the bros. martin & invisible creature


#tbt to college afternoons spent listening to great music and trying to recreate brilliant album art.

These are pen drawings of the 2005 album art reissues of Silver and Gold, the first two Starflyer full-lengths & fan favorites. (Doesn’t get any better than Old and The Changing of the Guard for me. …and Talking Voice. …and maybe My Island. …and…) Followed with pen recreations of Joy Electric’s 2007 album The Otherly Opus, which is absolute magic.

Listen to Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric and view the designs & illustrations of Invisible Creature if you don’t regularly already. (And standby to listen to Ronnie’s new venture, Said Fantasy early next year.)

Here’s the original art designed by Invisible Creature:

Oh yeah, Invisible Creature just released Stack and Scare this week — four sets of stackable blocks for bizarre creature building madness. Planning to pick up a set for Adelaide’s first Christmas. Here — watch a quick video to see how fun these are.