I've recently been working through a portrait phase. Every now and then I get inspired by something different, and having done a lot of videogame art for markets this year, I decided to make some portraits for a change. Here is a selection of my recent work:
Some are available for sale, some not. None of the above art is on Etsy yet, so if you are interested in any of it, drop me a line and we'll talk!
Hey there, pixel fiends! I thought I'd finally write another blog post, as I haven't gotten round to it for a while. So what's been happening?
I've had stalls at 2 markets this month... and had my lowest takings of any events I've worked to date! The first was the RetroPlay Festival in Leighton Buzzard - I didn't expect much from this one, as it's a family event in a small town, with a focus on cosplay and vehicles from the movies. I made some sales, which was all I expected, so I wasn't disappointed.
The Leeds Retro Games Fair however, is a different story. I expected to do much better there, as I had done in previous years. I hadn't been since 2016, when it was in a different venue. This time, my stall was in a bit of a dark corner away from the main hall, and there didn't seem to be as many people as in previous years. The weather was also really good, which may have been a factor in keeping people from the market. Whatever happened, money-wise this was my worst market to date - I made about 5 sales, when usually I make about 30 at these kinds of events. It was a little disappointing, as I feel like I had some of my best artwork with me. What do you think? Take a look for yourself below and let me know your thoughts!
My last market of the year is the Nottingham Retro Games Fair, organised by the same folks who put on the Leeds market. This is the first one to be held in Nottingham, so I'm hopeful there will be some interest from gamers who can't make it to the other events. Anyway, this market is on 5 October at the Britannia Hotel. Check out the Facebook event page for more info.
I have been adding to my online listings at my Etsy shop - I now have over 60 items and counting! There is more to come, and I will be adding them over the coming days/weeks. Please take a look here... if there is anything else you'd like to see me make, just let me know - I do take custom orders!
And lastly, I thought I'd share a pic of my workspace. It's also a playspace, due to the number of games consoles I have stashed there! It's my favourite room in the house and it literally is the Cave of Pixels.
Recently my art arrangement at The Hubbub bar/theatre in London came to an end. They asked if I could take my art down as the owner wanted to paint the walls. Fair enough I thought, and went and picked up my art, thinking in the back of my mind that maybe this was their way of saying they wanted to go in another direction. I remember being over the moon when the manager had asked if I would be their “resident artist” (I had to clarify what he meant by “resident artist” when he suggested it - he said that meant my art would be the only art on his walls) a while back, but after a few months this began to seem fairly meaningless, as every time I visited I noticed other artists’ work on the walls as well as mine. Anyway, sure enough, weeks and months passed since I removed my art, and silence from the landlord (he was never the best at communicating to be honest).
Realistically, I can’t complain – I had an awesome venue in which to display my art for a couple of years, and they asked for no commission on sales. I can’t imagine I’d get that kind of deal anywhere else. Even so, I can’t help but feel disappointed by the way it ended – they could at least have been straight with me.
Which brings me on to the topic of this blog post. I have 15 or so pieces of art I’d like to display and hopefully sell. They aren’t gaming-themed, and some of them are a bit too big for me to comfortably sell on Etsy, so I’m not sure what to do with them to be honest!
Please note - the props (DVDs, CDs, wife) are not for sale.
Ideally I’d find a gallery/bar/market/shop/space in general that would like to display some pixel art and doesn’t completely exploit its artists (I don’t want to have to raise my reasonable prices to cover huge gallery fees). Ideally it would be local (South-East or London), but I’d happily travel a bit if the situation was right. So far I’m leaning towards trying Camden Market, but if you know of anywhere that you think would be a good fit for my art, I'd love to hear about it! Please drop me an email or message me on social media if you can help.
Thanks for reading!
First off, happy new year! I just realised it's been just short of a year since my last blog post... I have reasons, honest! The main one is that a huge chunk of last year was spent moving house, meaning I had no workspace for beading for a fair few months. The hard work was worth it however, as I now have a fully functioning art studio / games room in the spare room. It's probably also in my best interest to acknowledge my wife here, who has graciously allowed my childhood to continue into my late thirties.
Pretty sweet room, right?
My new year got off to a great start when Vintage Is The New Old ran a profile on my artwork after one of their contributors commissioned some sprites from his favourite games. You can read the article here.
Last year I only exhibited at two shows - the London Gaming Market in April, and PLAY London in August. Again, this was due to the house move (PLAY London was the day before we actually moved house, just to make things that little bit harder). This year I vow to be at more markets and shows! I have already booked a stall at the London Gaming Market on March 17th - you can RSVP via Facebook here.
I have also (finally) updated my Etsy shop, CaveOfPixelsArt with new art for sale, and am running a special offer of 15% off all pieces until the end of January, so don't miss out on some tasty wall candy! That's a weird way to describe art, but I'm sticking with it!
Hello and welcome to my latest blog post! Firstly, a little something I'm fairly proud of... recently The Hubbub restaurant/bar/theatre in London kindly asked me if I'd like to be their first resident artist, so of course I accepted! It's a great honour to be the only artist to have their work featured in this awesome space.
It was my local bar when I lived in London a few years ago, and it was only after I moved away that I found out they were looking for more artists to display on their walls. I have my lovely wife to thank for that, as she is the one who spotted it when they put the call out on social media.
Since then I have had my art up in the venue a few times, and it's always been a place where my style and inspirations seem to be appreciated by the clientele. I'm looking forward to creating more pieces for the Hubbub, and will post updates whenever I have new art for their walls!
Until then, here are some pics of the latest art additions:
The Hubbub bar-kitchen is at 269 Westferry Road, London E14 3RS. More info can be found at their website.
My other update is that I am all signed up to be an exhibitor at this year's PLAY London event in August! It's a two day event featuring retro gaming, modern gaming, special guests, arcade machines and more. I can't wait to be there, it sounds like a great event! Check out my Events page for more info.
Recently I have been focussing on selling my art online through Etsy again, so here's a little plug for my shop. It's called CaveOfPixelsArt, and allows you to buy a selection of pieces directly.
Currently there is only videogame-themed artwork listed, but I intend to add a variety of pieces as I sort through my stock. Pixel art is only a hobby for me currently, so until it pays the bills I can only give it my attention on my days off from work. Stay tuned for updates!
This week I set up some artwork at the Hubbub Café/Bar in East London. My art will be up for all of February, so if you're in the area, please pop in and check it out! They also do awesome food, so I recommend stopping for a bite to eat.
The Hubbub is located at 269 Westferry Road, Isle of Dogs, London, E14 3RS.
The next London Gaming Market is almost upon us, and this time I'm fully prepared! I'll be taking over 100 handmade pieces of pixel art to the Market on 19 Nov, and thought I'd provide a preview of what I'll have available:
Frame sizes range from 18x24cm to 50x50cm. A few more pieces will be added to this gallery between now and the 19th, so do check back to see what's new! Also, if you'd like to see any other games represented, please let me know and I'll see what I can do!
Yesterday I made a pixel portrait that combined black and white for the skin tones with full colour for the hair and lips. I like to do this with certain portraits as the results can be quite striking. Here is the original picture, side by side with the finished pixel piece:
I originally planned to do the portrait in full colour, but wasn't satisfied with the skin tones in my design. Black and white skin tones generally look pretty good when using Artkal and Hama's range of greys (I use six shades between black and white), so I decided to go that route. I didn't want to lose the striking colour of the hair and lips though, so I combined the two.
Without editing the photo, a combination design like this isn't easily done in the Perler program (my design software of choice). I could have used a photo editing app on my phone to make the pic black and white, while including colour where I wanted it, but this can be a timely, tricky process when trying to do it on a small phone screen. For this reason I used a technique I have used in the past - making a colour design as well as a black & white design, and use them both. Here's what I came up with:
As you can see on the left, just changing the colours to black and white with the reds and pinks included too doesn't give the finished result I was looking for. As the design is based on a colour photo, the software puts some colours where I don't want them, as they are closer to the actual colour than a shade of grey is, for example in darker areas.
So with this portrait I worked from both designs, and also continually referenced the original photo to check where the greyscale should end and the colour should start.
As with all my portrait designs generated by computer software, there is an element of cleaning up by eye to be done. This usually means tidying up the eyes and mouth, and this picture was no exception. While the lips only needed minimal improvements, the eye in the original designs was a bit lifeless compared to the real eye in the photo. For some reason the whites of the eye were interpreted as grey by the software, the pupil was indistinguishable, and the iris shaped all wrong. It took some trial and error to get the right shade of grey (using white proved to be too jarring in this picture) and the right shape, but I think the final eye is a big improvement. She now looks like she's looking at something specific, rather than just vacantly staring into space.
From starting the design process to laying the last bead took about 4 hours. And this is the smallest size I make portraits in - had I been working at 30x40cm or 40x50cm it probably would have taken at least twice as long.
And for those of you wondering, the model is Sway Fierce, and a fun fact about her is that she likes retro gaming! Check her out on Instagram (@swayfierce).
Yesterday I made a trip to visit one of my favourite game dealers, Ally The Retro Hunter. Since I've been selling art, he's had a stall at most games fairs and markets I've exhibited at. He's bought art from me, and I've bought games from him, but we never get a lot of time at markets to chat, so it was good to catch up. Recently he was able to make the jump to full time games dealing, and has opened his own shop in Southend. There's something special about retro games shops, as there are so few in the wild these days, so I'm keen to support them when I can. So here's a little about The Retro Hunter shop!
I was impressed by the size of the shop and the amount of stuff for sale. Most retro games shops I've been to in recent years (not that there are many around these days) tend to be much more compact, with little of interest (to me anyway) actually on display. This place isn't like that, and after seeing the amount of stock out back that hasn't been sorted or just won't fit out on the shop floor, I'd definitely recommend asking if there's something specific you're after - chances are it just hasn't made its way to the shop floor yet! There were so many consoles and games in the store room, it was like an Aladdin's cave for retro gamers - I would have loved to sit in there all day and sort through it! For example, there were two Virtual Boys sat around in the back. I'd never played one before, so Ally Kindly let me have a go on one.
I'm not going to lie, I couldn't get the hang of it, visual-wise. There were a few seconds when my brain managed to interpret the images as one 3D scene, but then my eyes lost it again and I was trying to play tennis with two overlapping images in my vision. Not ideal... I soon gave up and decided I'm glad I never bought one of these curiosities, even being the Nintendo fanboy that I am. I have my 3DS and I'm more than happy with that!
The store has loads more to keep retro gamers interested though, including a few playable arcades, and of course plenty of games and consoles, as well as old board games, toys and action figures.
There's also a little bit of my pixel art on display in the shop (the framed Mario piece), with maybe more to come!
So where can you find this den of geekiness? The address is: 1172 London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 2AH. You can also find him on Twitter (@TheRetroHunter) and Facebook (@TheRealRetroHunter). If you're into retro games and/or toys, this place is well worth a visit!
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.