Exclusive Interview to :

Ryan Bliss

Interview by Jerry Composano

Digital Artworks is proud to present
an Artist who needs no introduction ...
the pioneer of 3D wallpaper creation and display :


Ryan, welcome. I speak for the entire 3D community when I thank you for your contributions to the Digital Art World, providing the most well known site in computer generated graphics, Digitalblasphemy, and a wide range of graphics for our entertainment.

For those who have not read your bio-page, tell DA about Ryan Bliss.

Ryan I'm 29 years old and I have been running Digital Blasphemy for the past 4 years. It's been my full time job for the past 2 years. I spend most of my time learning how to become a better 3D artist and corresponding with people about my work.

I've always had images and stories floating in my head. When I was very young my father and my grandfather would make up bedtime stories to put me to sleep.

My older brother Eric liked to pretend he was a teacher. He would come home from school and try to teach me all the stuff he had learned that day.

Maybe that's why I had a hard time paying attention in grade school, I had heard most of it before. I was a real daydreamer in grade school, always drawing pictures or staring out the window.

When I was in the sixth grade my brother introduced me to The Odyssey. I was fascinated by greek mythology and I read everything I could on the subject. That got me into reading other works of fantasy like "Dune", "The Lord of the Rings', the "Belgariad", etc.

I spent a good portion of my early teenage years either reading fiction or writing it. I wanted to be a writer when I "grew up" and I chose to attend the University of Iowa so I could work with the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Unfortunately, my experience with the workshop was less than successful. Mostly because I wrote potboilers and they seemed to be looking for the next Joyce. I graduated in 1995 with a degree in English.

My mother had purchased my first computer for me as a graduation present. She always spent money she didn't have to feed my creative side. She gave me the old type-writer on which I wrote my first stories, and she bought me an electronic word-processor which got me through college.

The idea with the computer was that I could write my first novel and store the whole thing on disk. The computer was a 486/66 with 8 MB of RAM, 14" monitor, 350 MB hard disk. It didn't have a modem. It did, however, come with a copy of Aldus Photostyler and Kai Power Tools. Whenever I made a picture I would set it as the wallpaper on my machine so my roommates could see it and give me feedback.

Since I liked playing with my computer so much, I decided to try and make a career out of it. I'm not sure what kind of job you can get with an English degree these days, but back in Iowa City in '95 my choices were limited. I worked at a bookstore for a while and took a job working as preschool teacher. I was working 70 hours a week for around $6 bucks an hour.

I took out some huge college loans and went back to school for a Comp Sci degree. I struggled with the mathematics at first, but I finally got a handle on it. I enjoyed writing code, but I enjoyed making computer graphics more. When I finally got a modem for my computer I posted a few of my graphics on AOL :-)

In 1996 I met Jessica. She was a coworker at the preschool and I thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world. I got up the nerve to ask her out, she accepted, and we've been together ever since. She's now my fiancée and my #1 fan/critic. I'm a very lucky guy.


Before we get to the art, lets talk about Digitalblasphemy. Tell our viewers how DB got started and what do you think is the root to the success of your site?


Ryan DB got started when I got turned down for a job. After a year of computer/math classes I wanted to get a tech job.

At one of my first
interviews they asked me if I knew HTML. I admitted that I did not and I didn't get the job. So I decided to learn by posting a web site. I had 15 or 20 wallpapers that would be my content. I bought a copy of "HTML for Dummies" and downloaded a copy of WSFTP. I converted all my BMPs to JPGs and uploaded them to my ISP account web space.

I coded up a simply gallery structure (which isn't
much different than how my site looks today). I called my site "Digital Blasphemy", after a name I had used in some of my early "logo" attempts. That was in February 1997.

I posted samples of my work on windows95.com,
nonags, and some other sites. That brought in the first visitors. I also noticed that the AOL wallpaper section had a link to a single wallpaper website. I contacted the owner of that site and we exchanged links.

After a month or two I had about 50 people a day
visiting. I got a ton of encouraging email so I kept making more wallpapers and adding them to my gallery. People told their friends about me and I got more and more traffic. I honed my web programming skills while working on my site. I learned a great deal.

I graduated with my Comp Sci degree in late '97
and took a job as a web programmer. I worked a full day writing code and then came home and worked on artwork for another 7 or 8 hours. The more pictures I posted to my site, the more people came. I really enjoyed the attention.

There came to be so much traffic that I got kicked
off of my ISP account. I bought the digitalblasphemy.com domain name and moved my site.

I kept working on my artwork and people kept
telling their friends about my site. Traffic really picked up when I started putting my domain name on all my wallpapers. Someone suggested I start running banner ads to pay for the bandwidth, so I did that. I made a little money and started thinking that it would be nice if I could just work on my site full time.

After all, at that time around 12,000 visitors per
day were browsing my gallery.

By December 98 I knew I had to make a decision. I
could no longer work 8 hours days and 10 hour nights. I was either going to quit making wallpapers and shut down my site, or quit my day job and work full time on DB.

I chose to work fulltime on DB. But I didn't want
to hitch my fortunes to ad banners. Instead I started a subscription service whereby people can support me directly.

So far it's worked out great. Thousands of people
have signed up and they keep renewing their subscriptions. I've been doing this for 2 years now and I love it.

The root to the success of my site? Probably
the fact that I specialize in wallpaper. That makes my artwork "useable" and it gives people something to "take home with them" from my gallery. Also, wallpaper is highly visible software. People see my work on their friends and coworkers computers.

Most of the artwork I see on the internet is too
small to use as wallpaper. I provide hi-resolution graphics for big monitors.


As I once did, people flip through your images with jaws hanging low, in wonder and in awe. How do you keep up with all the letters you must get. Do you have help?


Ryan I get a ton of email every day and there's no way I can answer them all.

Still, I can't imagine someone else reading them or answering them for me. I love reading all the emails I get from people, but answering them all is too great a task. I can only hope that people understand that, and don't think of me as some kind of jerk.


Frio, Creation, Blue Rising. Can you remember that far back? I do. Awesome stuff. 

Now its Oasis, Tropic of Capricorn, and Glenwood. Besides the software changes that have evolved, why do you think your style has taken such a turn? Is it experience, or just a change in taste?


Ryan I don't like using Poser figures as a centerpiece any more. Someday I'll sit down and spend the time to learn how to model and pose an accurate human figure. Until then I choose to use Poser figures simply to show scale.

Poser is a very cool program, but it's just not for me right now.

Besides that, I think the works you mentioned are very simple pieces. They all feature one or two objects and a flat infinite plane. It was all  I knew how to do at the time, but it looked cool to me. Nowadays it takes more than that to flip my switch.

I think my landscapes became more dense when I started using Vue d'Esprit and World Builder. Both apps have awesome vegetation capabilities, a feature which was sorely lacking in Bryce at the time.


When Ryan Bliss is staring at an empty WorldBuilder screen, what gets the ball rolling? Where does the inspiration come from?

Most of my work is accidental, is that true for you too?


Ryan My work is definitely accidental. Sometimes I start with a theme in mind but not always. A lot of times I'm just trying to learn a feature of my software.  This is one of the reasons I don't do a lot of tutorials. I don't use any set procedure.


In your opinion, not your hit counters, what is your very best piece of work?


Ryan Hard question. Kind of like picking your favorite child. If I had to choose though, it would probably be "Song of the Sky".

I think its a very soothing image.


I know you have abandoned Bryce for high end software ; understandable. Do you think the new Bryce by Corel will lure you back?


Ryan I doubt it. I'll probably buy it just to check out the new features, but I don't think it will ever be my primary weapon again. It's still a nice tool to have though.


Who is your favorite digital artist, your favorite artist of other media,and your favorite work by another artist?


Ryan Right now my favorite digital artist is Dmitry Savinoff.

He's one of the best Lightwave artists out there, IMHO.

For "traditional" media I would have to choose either Craig Mullins or Michael Whelan... I'm simply in awe of their work.

It's difficult to pick a single work as my favorite.


What does Ryan Bliss do when he's not reading emails or creating art?


Ryan I spend time with Jessica, my lovely fiancée. We just purchased our first house and most of our free time right now is spent turning it into a home.

I enjoy collecting DVD movies. I also enjoy taking photos with my Nikon digital camera. Someday I'd like to travel, but right now I don't have the time.


For the techies, describe your system.


Ryan Right now I'm using 4 different computers.

My main machine is a Dell Precision 620 Dual PIII 1.0 GHz with 1 GB RDRAM. It has 1 18 GB SCSI drive spinning at 15K r.p.m, and a 36 GB SCSI drive spinning at 10K r.p.m. The graphics card is a Fire GL2 connected to a 21" Trinitron.

I use two of my older desktops as render nodes. I have a Dual PIII 600 MHz with 1 GB SDRAM and a PIII 550 with 768 MB SDRAM.

I also use a Dell Inspiron 8000 notebook. It has an 850 MHz PIII, 256 MB of RAM and a nice big 15" screen.

All of my home machines are running Windows 2000 right now.


Wallpaper sites come and go. Artists loose interest, or time, or cant keep up with the software. Where do you go from here, Ryan? Is DB a career? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?


Ryan Who can say where they'll be in ten years. I don't see myself quitting DB anytime soon. I'm having too much fun. I love learning the software and I really enjoy my creative freedom. I still consider myself a beginner artist, so there is much I have yet to learn.

DB is only part of my career. I'd still like to write a novel or two someday, or maybe a screenplay. I'd like to try my hand at photography and I'd like to direct a feature film before I die.

I want to have some children too.

But for now I'm happy making wallpapers for the whole world to enjoy. I consider myself very fortunate to make a living doing what I love.


Well Ryan, I cant begin to tell you how elated I was when you accepted my offer for this interview. Imagine me, with Blue Rising on my desktop, interviewing it's creator, who would have thought.....:)

From Digital Artworks and the entire 3D community, Thank you very much !!!


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