Our passion for retro lo-fi pixel art has really fired up these last 2 years. It all began with the discovery of the freeware progam IcoFX which allowed us to reconnected us with our c64-generation creative urges. I produced our first pixel art poster for a Supermarket show in Big Star Records’ basement in September 2008 and things have snowballed from there!
Happening around the same time was the erection of a giant public lo-res screen at the end of Adelaide’s busy Rundle Mall- The Rundle Lantern. Astonishing in both scale and low-resolution, it wraps around two sides of a multi-storey carpark at a highly trafficked intersection. Emma Sterling and I leapt at the opportunity to produce original animation for it. Our ‘how to’ guide to producing animation for it is available here at Creativity Base. Merge Magazine also caught wind of what I was up to, and commissioned artwork for a front cover and feature article spread.
Meanwhile, in North America, a man I met through a chiptune email-list was cooking up a grand design. Emerging theatre writer and director Steven Gridley put a call out for chiptune musicians and pixel artists and animators, to help create a world that slips between the ‘real’ and that of a glitchy 1980’s Nintendo game. I was originally eager to animate many projected sequences throughout the play, but in the end the team expanded and the workload was shared nicely. Below is a showreel featuring some of the animated sequences from the play, and a chiptune score also written by Steven Gridley. Mine is the flat-looking Mario-esque sidescroller. You can read more about the show at the blog Brooklynshiner.
Since then, I’ve had enough compliments on my pixel art to decide to open an online store, and make designs for merchandise and apparrel. Dead Pixel Designs launched late last year, and the inventory in the Zazzle shopfront is growing nicely. Recent friend and gun programmer Jay Straw also helped me integrate the store into my website, closing the associative gap between danimations and Dead Pixel Designs.
In March, Emma Sterling and I are running a pixel art and animation workshop as part of the DIY cultural event Format Festival right here in Adelaide. Keep an eye on their website, and come along if you love pixels as much as we do- finished works will be screening on the Rundle Lantern!
I’ve been a fan of custom culture for the best part of my life- since churning out personal designs on my 9-pin dot matrix printer back in the ‘eighties. Lucky for us (the makers and the consumers) the days of home-made Print Shop calendars and greeting cards are mostly behind us now, and an exciting and (relatively) new trend is taking hold. I’m talking about custom merchandise, made to order from uploaded designs, delivered direct to customers through the wonder of the internet. A few years ago, a friend tipped me off to the existence of one such site called Cafepress, and then in 2007 I discovered its more evolved counterpart, Zazzle. A string of mugs, shirts, shoes and miscellaneous purchases (and sales) later, Emma Sterling and I have finally made some of our internationally crafted photographic works available as a premium quality Redbubble calendar.
The calendar features images taken by Emma Sterling and myself, over our last few years of artistic globe-trotting. The USA, Canada, Mexico, Singapore and Australia are all featured, with subjects including landscapes, scenics, architecture and the occasional detail. I hope you enjoy the images as they flick past in the RedBubble slide show below- and please check out the link above if you’d like to take a closer look at our very first deluxe photo calendar. As fondly as I recall those days of brashly printing out black and white greeting cards on sprocketed computer paper, these are pretty amazing times we’re living in. Surely there’s never been a better time to be an in independent artist, with tools like these at our disposal?
Oh, and if you make a purchase, be sure to take a photo of your item once it’s on the wall, and we’ll happily post it in our flickr gallery. We’ll also mail you a little surprise follow-up gift… it is nearly Christmas after all!
Every now and again I get an email from custom merchandise webstore Zazzle letting me know that someone online has bought one of my custom designs. Through our danimations Zazzle store we sell the occasional Supermarket T-shirt or Lateral Movement merch (an experimental screen cultural event Emma Sterling and I started this year). Moreover, we used the service to make one-off promotional objects for ourselves, to avoid the unattractive upfront costs of bulk ordering custom designs from a traditional printing business. I recently decided to make a concerted effort in getting another Zazzle store off the ground, with pixel art as the unifying theme.
Since I’ve been busy producing pixel art for a range of applications this year (gig flyers, a Merge Magazine editorial spread, animations for theatre and favicons for websites) I thought I’d create a store specifically to host my lo-fi wares. The result? Dead Pixel Designs. Combining a love for cartoons, animation, retro computing and pure colour, the store will be a growing source of lively pixel-based designs. The designs currently feature on apparel, mousemats and binders… and Zazzle provides every end-user/designer with an ever-growing range of products to treat as custom canvases. Some of the wackier ones include skateboard decks, aprons and even pet clothing. Each product can feature either printed or embroidered artwork, depending on the item. Designs can be prepared to templates offline and uploaded, or individual elements can be arranged live on the website, making the experience enjoyable. The designer’s desired royalty is then set, and the item described, tagged, categorised and listed publicly or privately in the Zazzle marketplace. The store owner can then draw upon a range of powerful tools to promote his wares, like the embedded widget below.
More advanced Zazzle features include easy integration of stores with Google Analytics, allowing the gathering of statistics following each visit your store receives. Zazzle also publishes a Site Builder application, and provides further support for web developers to hack, adapt or build from scratch entirely new applications or webpages through which to sell their goodies. If you or someone you know is sitting on some creative merchandising ideas but doesn’t want to commit big money to buying a bulk order (and having to fulfill orders yourself) I strongly recommend you give Zazzle a shot.