Intricately Detailed Illustrations Made From Victorian-Era Blueprints, by Memoryradio

I’m delighted to announce that an incredibly talented friend of mine, who goes by the name Memoryradio, now has some of his illustrations available as prints. I’ve been an admirer of the many projects and creations I’ve seen from him, and I think these prints in particular are really worth checking out.

Many of the illustrations are made by using elements taken from blueprints and Victorian-era illustrations. I love how older schematics and files are being re-assembled (using modern computer applications) to create these new illustrations.

Memoryradio has a very strong command of modern tools, but has a visual aesthetic that hearkens back to an earlier time. I feel a tension between the old and the new, when looking at his illustrations… and it’s a feeling I really, really dig.

These images don’t really do the illustrations justice, as there’s a lot of incredible detail happening. For example, check out this closeup image from American Blueprint.

I got to do a very brief Q&A with Memoryradio, as I was curious about his background and the way in which he went about creating these illustrations.

If you’re interested in purchasing prints, you can do so via society6.

Q: Tell us a bit about your background. Did you receive any formal artistic training, or was it something you picked up along the way?

I grew up in New England, went to The Massachusetts College of Art and also a summer at The Burren College of Art in Ireland. I ended up as a graphic designer at a large corporation where I have since become a developer/programmer as well, which is the side of me that is self-taught.

I have been known to make interactive digital art with Flash and HTML, but where I got really into interactive art was Second Life, which is a whole different set of artwork. My name was AM Radio there, and I really enjoyed the medium as an art platform.

Q: Can you tell us more about your source materials – the blueprints and Victorian illustrations. Where did you find them?

I was trolling the web for them. There are many out there on wikipedia for example. Recently a friend sent me a large batch he had scanned in from an antique science periodical.

Q: Can you describe your workflow/process, when creating an illustration (using blueprints)?

I usually start with a very large Photoshop canvas. I often will have a source image. For example the violin image of a 3d model of a violin I created, and used as a source image. In another case, I sketched Benjamin Franklin, just by looking at some images of money. I try to find general shapes first among the source images. I cut out just what I need in some cases, and in others I might use an entire section of the blueprint, labels and all.

As well, I look for dense and complex blueprints to help serve as shaded areas. I suppose it’s sort of like a custom Photoshop brush, but every brush stroke is carefully selected and tailored to the intended mark. I sometimes will cut out parts to allow for sections of white and maybe some subtle use of negative space.

While I am collecting source images, the final subject of the sketch is always related. For example the image of Rachael from Bladerunner is made of gears and schematics but also I searched for insect and bird illustrations to symbolize her character and the story.

Q: Can you describe your workflow/process for The Lady of Shalott? What’s scribblrtoo?

The Lady of Shalott
is different from the other sketches I have been doing. Scribblertoo is a unique drawing tool found at

The tool allows you to create scribbly looking drawings with simple drawing tools in its interface. I can also draw with a mouse but I have since gotten addicted to drawing with the macbook’s touchpad.

I had only an objective of drawing a human figure, male or female. I didn’t really think about what the person would look like as I started, but began to draw the form from the shapes I saw as I went. I used specific lines where I wanted detail but then moved quickly with shapes curling from her form.

I liked what it did with the first curl, and I drew a few more with the same quick gesture. I liked how it looked flowing fabric, or maybe smoke. I did not intend for the work to be The Lady of Shalott when I sketched it, but I immediately saw the resemblance to paintings I have seen of this character.

It needed something more though, something from nature, so I flipped through my dng files from my camera and found a nice but otherwise anonymous image of thin trees. I imagined these to be the trees along the edge of a lake or river. I decided to use the image as the background.

Q: Do you have plans on making more illustrations available?

I don’t ever really plan a personal artwork. There may be more in the style of the blueprints or Scribblertoo, but I can’t say for sure. Something new might catch my attention. I am actually more consistent with my photography, and I hope to get some of that up to society6 soon.

Q: Do you work in any other mediums? Painting? Photography?

I do paint and do quite a bit of Photography, mostly of rural Illinois. My paintings are fewer these days, but I still paint landscapes and those can be viewed on my blog.

Q: Where else can people find you (and your work) online?

You can find it at my blog (, which usually has new images weekly, and also the prints at

Ian Rogers: Abecedary – Group Names of Birds and Beasts
Vertical Carnival: Hyper-Detailed Letterpress Print, by Allison Rae
Rob Funderburk: Sketches from Chicago Stories

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