The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

Some Tumblr Themes

The Tumblr Theme Garden is huge, and unlike its WordPress counterpart not tagged by feature. Here are a couple of themes that I found useful. The things I look out for in a theme are:

  • Tags should display on listings, not just on the posts themselves. Otherwise your blog will be difficult to navigate.
  • The short URL should be displayed somewhere. It is sufficient if it is displayed on the posts, but if the theme does not display it, it isn’t accessible at all.
  • The theme should handle long tag lists well.
  • It should load fast and without problems. For this reason I generally prefer themes that do not show the high-resolution images immediately.
  • It should display cover images for audio posts, ideally at a fixed size. This is of course only relevant if the blog will have audio posts.
  • Ideally, it should display “next post” and “previous post” links.

Brutal Simplicity

The name is a bit misleading, but Brutal Simplicity is probably the best generic theme currently available. Except for the last, it matches all my criteria above. It is designed to be rather similar to the dashboard, which is especially helpful if you are new to Tumblr. It looks a bit bland by default, but you can give it your own background graphic. It has a light and a dark layout. For The Depot, I used the dark layout with a very dark background image.


So far, I have used this theme on three blogs, Art in Frames, Best on White, and Best on Black, always with some modifications. What these three blogs have in common is that I wanted the images to blend into the background. For this, it is very well fit, but you’ll have to set the background color accordingly. Except that it shows high-resolution images, and cover images at full size, it matches all my criteria.


The Esquire Theme is a special case. I have used it for several blogs and like it very much, but it has several issues, and I can only recommend it with caution. It has a couple of problems:

  • The frame is problematic with images that are less than 400 pixel wide, or have a length of more than 1.5 their width. You can disable the frame, but only for the whole blog, not per post.
  • Text posts should have at least four lines, else the initial will look rather silly.
  • Quotes should not be too long, they become difficult to read. Paragraphs in quotes are reduced to line breaks.
  • If the tags take up more than one line, it won’t look good.

Still, it’s a remarkable theme. I’ll give it a detailed review in a separate post.


The following themes do not display the short URL, and in most cases do not use cover images with audio posts, but handle tags well and are still worth mentioning:


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