Wilson And The Mountain - The Story Behind The Design

The story begins with our friend Hades, God Of The Dead and King Of The Underworld, one of the more impressive job titles I have heard.

Hades took his job very seriously and didn't like it at all when the over-achieving Sisyphos made Hades look like a fool by cheating death twice.

Hades punished Sisyphos by making him roll a large boulder endlessly up a steep hill without ever reaching the top. The cruel punishment was reserved for Sisyphos due to his hubristic attempts to achieve the impossible.

Building a functional Marble Machine sometimes resembles a Sisyphean task,
I have often felt close to the top only to fall back down again.

In contrast to the suffering Sisyphos I've loved every second of the process and when I saw the design of Wilson And The Mountain for the first time, it connected with me instantly.

Let's take a closer look at Wilson climbing up the mountain. When studying Wilson's facial expression there is one specific aspect that immediately stands out: He is actually enjoying it.





Eyes fixed firmly on the peak, ear-to-ear wide grin, Wilson And The Mountain challenge the very premise of the Tale of Sisyphos. By falling in love with the process and making the journey the goal itself, the hillside is no longer a punishment but a beautiful gift.

How has Wilson managed to achieve this impressive change of perspective?
My guess is that Wilson has figured out something about the predicament of life. Wilson no longer sees himself as suffering in a Local Maximum, where  satisfaction is strictly tied to reaching the next peak, the global maximum.
Wilson understands that by looking at the rare gift of existence from another perspective, we can discover ourselves being on the top of the global maximum already.

And so it happens that Hades finally found defeat. Just like us mere mortals, even the God of The Dead falls defenseless against Wilsons smile.

When i put my Wilson And The Mountain T-shirt on in the morning, Wilsons defiant smile reminds me to try choosing an optimistic perspective and to try to choose to enjoy the process. Everyone has their own mountain to climb. Bring Wilson with you when you climb yours.

The Process

The first version of the design was created and submitted to us by Manu Prosser. It looked fantastic when having a black print on a light background:


But inverting the colors with a light print on dark background did not work, the flat shadows looked off.



I myself wears mostly dark t-shirts so i wanted to try to adjust the image so it could work on both light and dark backgrounds. I emailed Manu to discuss the issue and ask for suggestions about how to build shadows using only solid black pixels, i sent this image as example:



Manu immediately sent back several great suggestions for the shadowing.

I loved the suggestions but i wanted to keep on iterating to see if we could find a way to blend the shadows more into the hillside, making them a more natural part of the mountain.

I Looked around for shadowing techniques such as these



I extracted the outlines of the drawing, channeled my inner Bob Ross and started experimenting with drawing angled shadows, falling down alongside the slope.



I fretted endlessly about the boldness, going back and forth between more bold to less bold.

Chris added the logo from Sono Design Studio and in the end we have a resulting design that works equally well on dark or light background.



Thank you to Manu Prosser for creating this Unforgettable and meaningful Masterpiece!

See all design contributions

Third Time’s The Charm

The Marble Machine X-T marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Marble Machine saga. . To celebrate the occasion we have curated a collection of 4 designs that tells the story about trying, failing and trying again.

Wearing these designs on your own journey gives you god-level dedication and the ability to never give up.