internet, website, art, wallpaper
I'm a self-taught 3D artist and have supported myself (and now my family) for the past 12 years by selling subscriptions to my hi-res wallpaper gallery. A few of my Members have asked that I do an AMA here...
I'm a self-taught 3D artist and have supported myself (and now my family) for the past 12 years by selling subscriptions to my hi-res wallpaper gallery. A few of my Members have asked that I do an AMA here...
Comments: 1412 • Responses: 54 • Date: 2011-12-02 14:58:11 UTCsource
smellmybellyfluff698 karma2011-12-02 15:06:59 UTC
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dblasphemy381 karma2011-12-02 15:08:53 UTC
Thanks! Fluorescence (http://digitalblasphemy.com/fshow.shtml?i=fluorescence6) is probably the one wallpaper that people most associate with my work.
Jigsus58 karma2011-12-02 16:33:10 UTC
I think Blackreach in Skyrim was directly influenced by it. Have you seen Blackreach?
dblasphemy35 karma2011-12-02 22:00:01 UTC
Wow. If I had anything to do with inspiring that then I am honored. I'm looking forward to digging into Skyrim after I beat Dark Souls.
[deleted]51 karma2011-12-02 15:13:24 UTC
Same for me, 16 when I came across your site. I had no idea you did all these yourself, amazing. How long we're you practicing before finally opening the site? Can you show us the improvement you made over the years by showing us your earlier work?
dblasphemy69 karma2011-12-02 15:24:26 UTC
I got my first PC in 1994 and started out by playing with the graphics cd that come with it. I started DB as a project to learn HTML while I was finishing my CS degree in 1997. All of my early work is still available on in my gallery (http://digitalblasphemy.com/seeall.shtml?y=1997&t=) and you can click up through the year links to see my progression.
You will notice that produce way fewer images now that when I started. I can only say that my standards as to what I will post have increased exponentially since the early days.
[deleted]23 karma2011-12-02 16:36:00 UTC
do you actually make any money given the nature of digital media distribution
Counterman9 karma2011-12-02 22:58:29 UTC
I should think so. This was the very first intangible thing I paid for over the net - heh, it may be the first anything I paid for over the net. It was seriously long ago.
Hey, Mr. Bliss, have you kept your mail archives? I've lost mine from that time, unfortunately. Might be interesting (to me) to see just how long ago it was.
dblasphemy12 karma2011-12-02 23:03:23 UTC
It looks like you signed up on December 23, 2002. Thanks for supporting my work!
poker_face223 karma2011-12-02 17:23:25 UTC
Will you draw a reddit alien for us?
dblasphemy181 karma2011-12-02 18:15:33 UTC
dblasphemy29 karma2011-12-08 18:31:02 UTC
NARF_NARF185 karma2011-12-02 16:45:40 UTC
How's that server holding up? ;)
dblasphemy219 karma2011-12-02 16:51:59 UTC
It's hurting. Realtime Google Analytics shows me over 650 users currently look at my work. I've never seen it over 115 or so. Wow.
JuJuMountainMan168 karma2011-12-02 15:45:28 UTC
dblasphemy228 karma2011-12-02 15:54:39 UTC
You are correct. It needs a complete overhaul. It's basically the same site that I've been using for the past 13 years with bits of new tech kludged on with duct tape and chewing gum. It works though and everyone tells me not to monkey with something that isn't broken.
cough_e51 karma2011-12-02 18:00:23 UTC
Would you be offended if I mocked up a redesign for you?
dblasphemy18 karma2011-12-02 23:04:34 UTC
Not at all.
chironomidae23 karma2011-12-02 17:27:27 UTC
I used to love DB back in the day. I went back to it maybe a year ago and I was shocked to see it looked identical to how it did some ten years ago... I'd just assumed by looking at it that the site had become essentially defunct and was only kept up because there was no reason to take it down.
I'm glad to know the site is doing well and you actually make a living off of it, but I highly, highly, recommend a site redesign; if only to let people know that the site is doing well and give a more professional presentation to new customers.
dblasphemy13 karma2011-12-03 00:51:55 UTC
That is the best reason for doing a re-design that I have heard to date.
chickenbean162 karma2011-12-02 15:36:43 UTC
dblasphemy314 karma2011-12-02 15:48:04 UTC
moralnihilist161 karma2011-12-02 16:44:06 UTC
You sir, run the only website I have ever actually paid money to access.
dblasphemy96 karma2011-12-02 16:52:30 UTC
I am deeply honored! Thank you!
LeoPanthera158 karma2011-12-02 15:35:08 UTC
I love your art and have a lifetime account. Worth every penny.
How popular are the lifetime accounts and how much money do you "lose" on them?
Edit: I've just discovered my "lifetime" account expires on December 6, 2108. As I plan on living forever, could I get this extended? ;)
dblasphemy506 karma2011-12-02 15:46:43 UTC
Thanks for supporting my work Leo! Lifetime Memberships account for around 10% of my signups. I would never say that I am losing money on them though as I am sure a fair number of them would never have joined if I didn't offer a lifetime option. Most people, unfortunately, do not renew their yearly Memberships and I refuse to auto-bill people.
As long as my site requires a login for access to certain parts you will have one.
iduno8912149 karma2011-12-02 16:44:13 UTC
Hey everyone, it's the neon blue shrooms guy!
dblasphemy153 karma2011-12-02 17:02:07 UTC
Don't call it a comeback...
dakkeh148 karma2011-12-02 16:25:54 UTC
I'm sorry I stole some of your work like 8 years ago. I was young!
dblasphemy131 karma2011-12-02 16:34:34 UTC
Before I can forgive you I need to know what did you did with it.
dakkeh111 karma2011-12-02 16:46:01 UTC
I enjoyed looking at it when I had no windows open. I am a terrible person!
It was protist.
dblasphemy43 karma2011-12-02 23:07:12 UTC
Is that all? Of course I forgive you and I'm glad you enjoyed it.
quazarjim39 karma2011-12-02 16:42:32 UTC
I ask forgiveness as well. I took your beautiful Pyre, photoshopped it a bit to make it a beautiful shade of blue instead of green, and used it as my background for many years. I also cropped it to only show the black silhouette and used as my profile pic in steam. If you need to cut off my hands, I can understand.
Edit: fixed typo.
dblasphemy16 karma2011-12-02 23:08:46 UTC
You are free to use my work however you like as long as it is for personal use. No forgiveness needed. I'm glad you found a use for it.
bumbletowne112 karma2011-12-02 17:19:09 UTC
How I knew my man was a keeper:
One day i noticed a $100 dollar credit card bill that went to 'the internet'. I asked him about it and he said, 'oh that's for digital blasphemy'. 'WAT IS DIS?', i asked.
He explained how it was an artist he really appreciated and he was always astounded by not only the choice of content but the execution and skill required to create the piece and that he like to support artists that he'd like to see more from. We were starving college students.
We're not starving any more. In fact, we're done with school. We both really appreciate what you do and continue to show our support.
dblasphemy60 karma2011-12-02 18:11:42 UTC
Thanks so much! I hope more men take notice of your post.
edits_after_reply109 karma2011-12-02 20:03:29 UTC
I like the multiscreen vagina shots.
dblasphemy72 karma2011-12-02 20:32:10 UTC
You are most welcome. I think my multiscreen vagina section really sets my gallery apart from a lot of other wallpaper sites.
All_Your_Base99 karma2011-12-02 15:02:42 UTC
Not a current subscriber, but I've been an admirer for many years. I've gotten more than a few great backgrounds from you. Also, when ever anyone posts a submission asking about cool wallpapers, DigitalBlasphemy.com always get recommended by me.
Thank you for your site. You rock.
dblasphemy94 karma2011-12-02 15:34:15 UTC
Thanks for spreading the word. I don't advertise so your recommendations are what has kept me going all these years.
Omnicrola9 karma2011-12-02 17:15:07 UTC
No advertising at all? That's quite amazing that you're able to make enough to live on off of the site.
What is your main reason for not advertising yourself?
dblasphemy5 karma2011-12-03 00:56:44 UTC
I honestly can't say why, other than it feels dirty. I've always let my work on people's monitors be my primary means of advertising.
I wonder where would be the best place to put an ad for Digital Blasphemy.
Coraon61 karma2011-12-02 15:44:26 UTC
Does the site earn you a good living, or do you need to "keep a day job"?
dblasphemy114 karma2011-12-02 16:05:18 UTC
DB has been my day and night job since 1999 and would say that I earn a pretty good living (especially given the economic climate of the past 5 years). I've licensed my art work to various companies and earn royalties for their sales but the lion's share of my paycheck comes from subscribers.
EternalStudent59 karma2011-12-02 15:32:20 UTC
Thank you for your awesome work for well over a decade. What is your personal favorite work?
dblasphemy76 karma2011-12-02 15:37:16 UTC
You are most welcome! My favorite would be toss-up between Highland Spring (http://digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=highlandspring1) and Haiku (http://digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=haiku2k72).
ewooding46 karma2011-12-02 15:13:07 UTC
How do you come up with the ideas? Are any based on real life places?
dblasphemy82 karma2011-12-02 15:30:41 UTC
That is probably my most frequently asked question. Inspiration is sort of like the Pleiades star cluster. You can see it out of the corner of your eye but it fades away if you try to examine it directly. I can say that I rarely use references in my work (sometimes to my detriment) and almost all of my images are directly out of my brain. Exceptions include a render I attempted of the Tetons (http://www.digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=purplemountains) and one that was directly inspired by the stepped pyramids of Meeren described in a Song of Ice and Fire (http://digitalblasphemy.com/preview.shtml?i=leaftemple1).
bostonvaulter41 karma2011-12-02 18:30:08 UTC
Can we get a reddit discount/coupon code?
dblasphemy44 karma2011-12-02 19:26:03 UTC
Well, I don't want it to appear that I posted here to generate business. I just wanted to answer questions. If enough people ask however...
Vladamar39 karma2011-12-02 16:32:08 UTC
I was using your Valley 2k wallpaper once when my grandpa walked by. He saw my background and said, "Wow. You really have to be at the right place at the right time to get pictures like that. It's really amazing that people go out and do that kinda thing." When I told him it was all done digitally he didn't believe me. Was sad.
Other than that little story, just wanted to say thanks for the cool work you've done. I've recommended your site to a lot of people.
dblasphemy27 karma2011-12-02 16:43:11 UTC
Thanks for sharing and for passing on my work. I never get tired of hearing that type of story.
yotta38 karma2011-12-02 16:43:52 UTC
How do you feel about the pirates?
How do you feel about people who are distributing your work for free without authorization?
The people who download it from elsewhere without paying?
What about the jerks who are selling it as their own work?
What do you do about it?
dblasphemy101 karma2011-12-02 17:01:24 UTC
I used to have a big problem with people using fake or stolen credit card numbers to access my work. That was a huge problem because each instance cost me between $15-$20 when the theft was discovered (it's called a "chargeback fee").
These fees have decreased markedly with the rise of Bittorrent so (if I could only choose between the two) I would rather people download torrents than steal Memberships. I've also heard of a lot of people discovering my work on the Torrent sites and then becoming Members themselves so there are positive aspects.
Legally, however, I am required to strongly condemn all illict sharing because unprotected copyrights are lost. Between us however, I know that there will always be people who don't want or can't purchase a Membership. I would rather they enjoy my work than not.
Edit: I always take down the people who try to sell my work as their own.
Optimash_Prime26 karma2011-12-02 15:41:15 UTC
Hah, awesome. I got introduced to your wallpapers through a coworker. His wallpaper for the longest time was one of yours.
Will you continue to be a redditor after you've completed your AMA?
dblasphemy46 karma2011-12-02 16:00:54 UTC
I've lurked here on and off for a while and it looks like one of the strongest communities around. Like every other cool thing online I have to balance the time I spend on it with the time I spend doing actual work.
iamnotfreud26 karma2011-12-02 16:10:40 UTC
Your work is amazing btw.
dblasphemy33 karma2011-12-02 16:17:41 UTC
Thanks! I earned a BA (English) and then later a BS (Comp Sci) from the University of Iowa. I've worked as a busboy, a bookseller (B. Daltons), pre-school teacher, technical writer and web programmer.
einmalistkeinmal23 karma2011-12-02 16:33:27 UTC
Pretty awesome, I've used your wallpapers periodically since middle school.
I usually just go through the free gallery, but I was always curious if people actually subscribed. Care to share ~how many subscribers you have, and what are the benefits of subscribing?
dblasphemy36 karma2011-12-02 16:48:15 UTC
I currently have 18342 subscribed members. People come and go every day but the number generally trends upward. All of my work is available on my site for free up to ~480px tall and I have a free section of images with higher resolution.
The Membership is for folks who really enjoy my work and want to directly support it. It offers unrestricted access to all of the resolutions I have available as I make them. Members can download zip file archives (rather than download one at a time) and can also participate in my creative process by rating/leaving comments on works-in-progress.
Popular-Uprising-23 karma2011-12-02 16:05:51 UTC
What kind of revenue do you see from your site? Your work is ubiquitous on the internet and it'd be nice to know that you're getting rewarded for it.
dblasphemy48 karma2011-12-02 16:14:37 UTC
I consider myself well-rewarded. The last five years have been pretty scary though (starting with me having to be hospitalized for Crohn's and then all my customers getting laid off).
thesecondkira22 karma2011-12-02 15:46:56 UTC
I'm a subscriber! The image of the desert dune with the tree and moon are on my desktop right now. Thanks for the beautiful work. I'm a writer and it's so inspiring to me.
dblasphemy30 karma2011-12-02 16:06:09 UTC
That's music to my ears. I never tire of passing on the "inspiration wave".
shadowman300121 karma2011-12-02 18:13:14 UTC
I can't tell you how often my mom saw your work, man!
She would come in the room, and thanks to windows+m (for some reason...), she happened to notice me innocently looking at awesome 3d images on my desktop.
Life saver, sir.
dblasphemy13 karma2011-12-02 19:09:51 UTC
LOL. Glad I could help ;)
buckhorn21 karma2011-12-02 16:32:03 UTC
What kind of programs do you use to create your images? I've always been a huge fan and have wondered what kind of effort and tricks go into becoming as good as you are.
Also I've always loved Tropic of Capricorn. I have a bit of wallpaper ADD and am always changing it but somehow always seem to come back to it.
dblasphemy33 karma2011-12-02 16:39:52 UTC
These days I use mostly Vue d'Esprit 10 (rendering my landscapes), Lightwave (rendering space, abstract, interiors, macro), Xfrog (modeling) ,Zbrush (modeling), Poser (modeling), Apophysis (2D fractal rendering) , and Mandelbulber (3D fractal rendering). I tie everything together using Photoshop CS4.
APisme18 karma2011-12-02 16:23:20 UTC
Great to see you here Mr. DB! Lifetime subscriber here. One of your wallpapers is on every PC either I or my family uses (6 computers)
Just curious how hard would it be to add additional resolution sizes to some of your older works? Just last night I was changing my daughters backgrounds to Christmas themes and they liked some of your early pieces. The resolutions aren't that great which kind of limits the choices.
Thanks again and keep up the good work!!
dblasphemy32 karma2011-12-02 16:31:54 UTC
Thanks for the kind words! It's difficult to re-render older works because new versions of 3D software tends to break old scene files. I can still open then but they don't render out the same. Creating smaller images from a larger file is trivial but I cannot create higher resolutions without re-rendering.
For that reason I, from time to time, enjoy "re-imagining" a favorite scene from years past. I am currently working on just such a project with one of my favorite Christmas wallpapers...
BastienB18 karma2011-12-02 16:17:13 UTC
I watched your FB conversation on your new hardware this year. It sounds like your renders can still take days, even on that beast of a machine. As a computer geek with no knowledge of art software, what's the limitation that takes things so long to finish? And do you have a machine dedicated to final rendering so you can still work/play while it's going?
dblasphemy16 karma2011-12-02 16:27:16 UTC
Fine details are always the bottleneck in 3D rendering. Realistic clouds, lighting and refractive/reflective surfaces (glass/crystal/liquid) are all computationally expensive.
I have a couple of other alternate (older) machines that I use for rendering but I almost always do my main rendering on my main workstation because it is way faster than all of my others. I sometimes work on my Macbook Pro while all of my others are busy.
sojazu18 karma2011-12-02 15:52:09 UTC
WOW. I used to use your website for all my abstract wallpaper needs years ago. I'm glad you're still running. :)
One question, I do remember by another website I used to go to called "Vladstudio".. they had a program that allows you to download wallpapers directly from their website. Do you have a program like that that you'd recommend for your hi-res gallery? (granted that I have the subscription)
dblasphemy25 karma2011-12-02 16:07:17 UTC
I love Vladstudio. The closest thing to such a program would be this one: http://www.rushfrisby.com/DigitalBlasphemyUpdater.aspx
Tezzor17 karma2011-12-02 15:07:35 UTC
When you publish your wallpaper without branding ?
dblasphemy64 karma2011-12-02 15:18:16 UTC
I know it bugs a lot of people and I would really love to publish them without the watermark. Every time I get close to actually doing it another site crops up with my work posted under a different name (sometimes by an artist claiming it as their own).
If the only watermark-free copy resides with me then it is easier for me to prove that the image is mine when I need to have the attributions change.
I just did a TinEye search (http://www.tineye.com/search/31226ccf34cada49e3f352a544ff41f8601b840b/) on my Fluorescence wallpaper and it returned 1246 different sites. Obviously I am not going to be able to contact them all so sometime here I am going to have to balance protecting my work with providing a better product for my customers. Having the watermark present does provide a bit of a hedge against people posting my work (most of my traffic comes from people typing in the URL or Googling me) so it is a difficult choice.
clarkster15 karma2011-12-02 16:49:23 UTC
How did you come up with the name? Does it mean anything specific, or just something random?
dblasphemy29 karma2011-12-02 17:12:15 UTC
I came up with it when I first started playing with computer graphics. It basically means that "I am God and can create my own worlds". If I had known it was going to be a business name I probably would have picked something a little less controversial.
subecho15 karma2011-12-02 15:35:48 UTC
I remember seeing your bit on Bucephalus earlier this year but I was wondering what other sort of gear/software you've used over the years as well.
dblasphemy21 karma2011-12-02 15:52:27 UTC
I started with a 486/66 with 8MB of ram and a 300MB hard drive. Moved through a couple of Pentium based system and purchased my first dual-core system in '99 (Pentium III 600 mHz IIRC).
Around that time I moved from Bryce to a mix Vue d'Esprit, World Builder (RIP), and Lightwave 3D. Recently I've started using ZBrush, Mandelbulber and Apophysis.
andrewsmith198614 karma2011-12-02 16:47:19 UTC
My best friend has had florescence as the only background ever.
Phone, pc, laptop.
dblasphemy31 karma2011-12-02 17:10:31 UTC
Wow. Tell your best friend I did an updated render a few years ago:
jabroni200212 karma2011-12-02 16:21:49 UTC
hey, I remember one of the first works i saw of yours was Pyre as well as this one of a Blue "christmas" tree in the woods. also Gotham and a bunch of others.
What is your current Rig like?
dblasphemy22 karma2011-12-02 16:28:08 UTC
Here's a page I wrote about my current rig:
ScienceOwnsYourFace11 karma2011-12-02 16:27:56 UTC
Really amazing stuff. I take most of the photos I use for my desktops, but honestly if I had more disposable income I would buy a lifetime immediately. I will recommend!
dblasphemy14 karma2011-12-02 16:36:50 UTC
Thanks! My chief competition comes from digital cameras. I do offer less expensive options...
Dutch_Wilkerson10 karma2011-12-02 16:33:09 UTC
holy fuck, i remember you
NEED TO BUY MEMBERSHIP NEXT WEEK!
dblasphemy11 karma2011-12-02 16:43:31 UTC
Thanks in advance Dutch!
bigdaddyhame10 karma2011-12-02 18:11:52 UTC
wow! Fluorescence was the inspiration for a photograph I did a few years ago... Thanks for the reminder.
dblasphemy5 karma2011-12-02 19:01:21 UTC
I love it!
iduno891210 karma2011-12-02 16:47:13 UTC
Seriously though, have you ever thought about updating your website and making look a little, well, less like we are still in the 90's. Also, when I try and view your images it takes forever to load. Love your work!
dblasphemy22 karma2011-12-02 17:08:53 UTC
I would imagine they are taking forever to load this morning because my server is currently experience around 30X the usual load. Redesigning my web site is always high on my list, but somehow "Make New Wallpaper" always gets inserted above it.
sithrage11389 karma2011-12-02 16:47:02 UTC
Don't understand why everyone is saying "I remember you" or "I used to go to your site." I STILL check your site every week or so. I really enjoy your work. I have dual monitors and I really appreciate your multi-monitor renderings.
So how many projects don't end up seeing the light of day? How far into a piece do you get before you abandon and start something else? Or does everything at least make it to a "pickle jar" level?
dblasphemy7 karma2011-12-02 17:07:49 UTC
Thanks Sith! I would say that 1 in 4 are never posted. If I work on something for more than 2 or 3 days I'm usually able shape it into something borderline presentable.
tamar9 karma2011-12-02 16:05:22 UTC
How long does a typical project take? Where did you learn how to do what you do?
(btw, I did have a paid subscription once, but I don't really look at my desktop nowadays... that said, thanks for what you've done - it's great!)
dblasphemy24 karma2011-12-02 16:11:51 UTC
I spend anywhere from a few hours (rarely) to a couple of weeks on a project and taught myself just about everything. I don't have any formal art training.
steelcitykid8 karma2011-12-02 16:04:59 UTC
I used to be a member a long time ago, blue mushrooms got me in! How much (ballpark) would you say you've grossed over the years?
dblasphemy23 karma2011-12-02 16:09:42 UTC
More than I my Mennonite upbringing will allow me to consciously utter.
Cj1458 karma2011-12-02 17:17:16 UTC
I love your work! I have been using your wallpapers since I first discovered Fluorescence many years ago. Since then I have upgraded to a triple monitor setup and a subscription so I could get your triple monitor designs. I have also sent just about everyone looking for a wallpaper to you! Never met someone who did not like your creations.
This is not really a question but I would love to see you make more high resolution designs that I can use on my triple monitor setup. My subscription ran out but I would happy renew to see there were more triple designs! I think my favorite ones are your space inspired designs.
Pic of my setup: http://i.imgur.com/1VIZy.jpg
Thanks for all of your work!
dblasphemy7 karma2011-12-02 18:07:18 UTC
Thanks CJ! That's quite the wall of sound you have put together there. Does your hair blow in the wind like the Maxell guy?
I try to create multi-monitor versions of all of my work so I recommend you visit this page to see all the new ones:
matt01ss8 karma2011-12-02 16:52:31 UTC
You're my desktop wallpaper hero! Never in my life did I think I would pay for wallpaper, but yours is so incredible (not to mention works great for 3-4 monitors) that I couldn't resist. The large sprawling universe pictures and insane looking sunsets are my favorite!
matt01ss22 karma2011-12-02 16:57:52 UTC
My workstation at my job featuring "The End"!
dblasphemy12 karma2011-12-02 17:18:02 UTC
Beautiful quad setup! Thanks for sharing. What is the combined resolution?
dblasphemy7 karma2011-12-02 21:58:21 UTC
Thanks so much for all the questions and kind words! I'm truly blown away and my fingers are numb from typing all day. Going to step away now to hang out with my family but I will pop back later to answer any really good questions that have not already been answered.
meatwad758926 karma2011-12-02 16:57:33 UTC
What are your thoughts on InterfaceLIFT? Is there an eternal battle between photographers and 3D artists?
dblasphemy13 karma2011-12-02 17:26:01 UTC
I love InterfaceLIFT (and Vladstudio) but I don't think there is much overlap in the audiences. Besides, art is not a zero sum game. Of course, reality is always going to be more realistic than 3D but then I am not limited by reality.
irishmcsg26 karma2011-12-02 16:24:18 UTC
Wow, looking back through your site is giving me flashbacks! Something Blue, White Magic, Pyre, and of course Fluorescence have all spent significant portions of time as my wallpapers.
When you create a new wallpaper, do you plan out ahead of time what you want it to look like and then make it, or just start modeling and texturing, and see where it takes you?
dblasphemy6 karma2011-12-02 16:32:52 UTC
Thanks! I usually take the latter path. It's rare (and joyous) when I start with a fully formed idea.
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