Today, our eyes are so accustomed to observing smooth, clean images that a pixelated photograph is seen as a resolution error. However, there is a real trend towards pixel art that we can call “Pixel Art”. Between nostalgia and modernity, find the best artists who have marked this movement.
In broad outlines and small squares… An artistic movement that always seduces
Pixel Art emerged in the 1970s with the arrival of computers in homes, and thanks, in large part, to the birth of graphics, especially video games. Among them arcade games like Space Invaders or Pac-man. Thanks to progress, more and more people have access to computers and are confronted with pixels every day. The term Pixel is also much older. Etymologically speaking, the word pixel comes from the abbreviation of two English words "pictures" and "elements". Literally, it can be translated as “image element”. Now that this literary anecdote has amazed you, we can move on!
The Pixel from a technical point of view appeared in the 1880s with the arrival of the first screens. These are the points of an electronic image. We owe this invention to computer scientist Russel Kirsch, a pioneer in digital imaging.
The pixel draws its source from very ancient arts. We can even say that it is an ancestral technique because during antiquity it was already used for mosaics for example. In reality, we find these images from small colored units in a number of techniques in traditional art over the centuries. In impressionism, in cubism and again in embroidery.
Visually, Pixel Art has always been present in art, but it was in the 1980s and 2000s that the term emerged and with it, many artists. Pixel Art is a varied art, rich in proposals and above all without limit. Recipe ? Imagination of small squares, colors and voila (well almost…)
Are you tempted? To inspire you, here are some of the best Pixel Art artists.
Artists who pioneered the movement
Invader: the artist who breaks the codes by including Pixel Art in street-art
He was born in Paris in 1969. Student at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. He began his career in 1996 in Paris, plastering his works on the walls, then he conquered the world by plastering in major international cities. Follower of an "old-fashioned" style, he creates his works from particular materials such as mosaic tiles or tesserae.
He defines himself as a hacker of public space by spreading a mosaic virus in the streets. Moreover, his works are not placed at random. The artist meticulously chooses the ideal place to implant his virus. The artist prefers to exhibit in places where attendance is high. Like a website, its virus must be able to penetrate the system. But nevertheless he also sometimes chooses more isolated spots. He sees himself as an urban acupuncturist. Each of his works is unique. His characters are first inspired by his childhood game “space invader”. Today he is expanding his repertoire to offer us many references to pop culture.
Today he has already created more than 4000 works in 79 different cities. And yet, no one has ever seen his face! In short, he is a very versatile artist who offers us a mixture of street art and Pixel Art to create one-of-a-kind works and seduce the world.
So Invader inspired you as much as us?
The Pixel Art of the eboy collective
Eboy is a Los Angeles-based collective of Pixel Artist founded in 1997 by Kay Vermehr, Steffen Sauerteig and Svend Smital (3 Berliners and 1 New Yorker) . Their complex “modern” illustrations are always full of cinematographic, musical, and cultural references. This gives rich, colorful creations where you can always find a reference that will make you smile. Without forgetting their humorous touch that can be found on their various posters. Their works have been made into T-shirts, souvenirs, and posters. Some are even exhibited in galleries.
They started working with pixels because they liked the idea of creating and imagining a universe made of pixels.
They mainly work with Photoshop but also with the Pen tool. It is a simple tool that works like a pencil. Thus, with this process they constitute basic elements, trees, houses, and human beings that they memorize in a database. After that, they compress in their library and then merge and articulate them together. They stand out in particular for the finesse of their line, which is very playful.
Very inspired by Pop culture
Their influences are inspired by pop culture. TV, toy commercials, LEGO universes, computer games, news, and magazines. Kai was very inspired by the Nintendo universe because he played Nintendo DS. The other members of the group lived in East Germany, where video games were very rare or even non-existent.
Their work reflects a colossal investment: "if we are not working on other projects at the same time, it takes about six to eight weeks to complete a very detailed cityscape, three eBoys are working on it, almost at full-time. But, if we have to do it in our spare time, which often happens, it could take years to finish a picture since we can't devote so much time to it." Their style has earned them a cult following among graphic designers around the world as well as a long list of clients. They made other projects like plastic toys Peecol with Kidrobot
Pointillism and Pixel Art: Ced Vernay
Ced Vernay is a French artist who lives and works in Marseille. It uses the point or pixel technique. Very inspired by Roman art, his art is between the Roman mosaic and the pixel. A mix of modernity and tradition, a form of contemporary pointillism articulated around mathematical notions.
A bit complicated all that! But you'll see it's worth it. A unique concept of contemporary art, it is inspired by modern art galleries or artists such as Andy Warhol, Roman Opalka or Yayoi Kusama. Doesn't that speak to you?
These are innovative artists playing with pointillism. Ced Vernay did not enter the world of Pixel Art coupled with pointillism by chance. He worked for many years in web design and IT. By working around the pixel, he intends to question us about our relationship to the screen but also to explore an abstract and figurative universe.
Pixced an artistic concept and monumental paintings that can be separated to be shared
The artist has embarked on major projects. One of the characteristics of this atypical work is to assemble 20 x 20 cm squares, all different, which he calls PixCed.
“Each one is unique, with characters, acronyms, mathematical formulas, drawings taken from their imagination or associated with things they wanted to say”. It is also a participatory work, indeed you can add your own pixel to the work. Buying one or more PixCed also means being part of a community around a work of art: the Pix'Ced Community. The latter may one day be able to come together to bring these monumental works back to life. The buyers will therefore one day be able to become actors in the reconstruction of the monumental work. In addition, for each pixel purchased, a tree is planted via the Reforest'Action association. Ced VERNAY has decided to offer this green gesture to his collectors because he is particularly sensitive to environmental issues. He has always tried to create works where the material is recycled. Pretty cool, no? So why not you?
Quark makes his Pixel Art with PIXI Quark
We are so inspired at Quark that we invite you to start creating custom Pixel Art. Not bad is not it ? And yes we are also a fan of Pixel Art (you will surely have understood it!). This is why Operation Pixi Quark was launched some time ago. It's a pixel art puzzle game. Depending on your wishes, you can get a kit of 50 black pixels and 50 white or 100 color pixels. Then let your imagination run wild!
The Pixi Quark has a magnetic mounting system that allows you to hang it on your door or on your fridge. Of course, the Pixi Quark can also be fixed on a pegboard thanks to our 3D parts kit. You can bring your ideas to life and make your creativity vibrate by drawing inspiration from the great figures of the world of Pixels. Do not hesitate to divert the Pixi Quark to create an original signage solution. You can now become a real artist and create your own Pixel Art models or get inspired by your favorite references! The Pixi Quark is an infinite and easy to configure Puzzle.
In conclusion, the esthetic notion of Pixel Art creations is recent. It is a varied universe, born of techniques as old as the world. It is an artistic current which itself includes other artistic currents. In short, it's a super varied universe that offers content for all tastes. To appreciate Pixel Art is to emphasize the beauty both of the pixel graphic images and the technique with which they were made. The beauty of this art lies in its simplicity: arrangements of large blocks of colored pixels in a square format. We like Pixel Art or not, but we must recognize that this new form of graphic art is a style of expression that is part of pop culture. He knew how to mark his time and he will surely continue to mark generations.
So, are you won over by the world of Pixel Art? Get started!