I was recently asked how many consoles I own. I've had to answer this a few times in my life, and each time I have to stop and methodically work out the answer. So let's go through it now...
The pictures above show the consoles hooked up to two televisions in my games room. Yes, I know they need tidying, I've just been really busy for the past 18 months. Anyway, I've got 10 consoles here:
In the living room I've got a Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3 and an Ouya. On the handheld front I've got an original fat Nintendo Gameboy, a Nintendo 3DS and two Sony PSP's. Why two, I hear you ask? Well I bought one second hand with the custom firmware loaded (so I could play emulators), then the shoulder buttons stopped working, so I got another one to play PSP games on. I also have a Megadrive clone that got relegated to the loft when I got my hands on an original. So that's 17 games consoles in my possession.
My favourite console? That's a tough question, but thanks for asking. I love my PS3, for all the re-releases and remakes of classic games that have been released on the Playstation Store. I love my Ouya and XBox for giving me the chance to play games I couldn't find/afford through the use of emulators. There are so many games on MAME that I would have had no way of ever playing without this. I love my Saturn, for being able to play all those brilliant Japanese shmups that never reached the West. I also love that it cost me £7 at a car boot sale! And despite the fact that my NES isn't an original toaster, I love the fact that it plays just as well as an original model, and doesn't suffer from the blinking red light issue. I love my Megadrive for being a Mk 1 and just looking awesome. The games are pretty sweet too. I love my SNES for somehow not going yellow in its old age. And no, I've not gotten it treated or anything, I only bought it from eBay a couple of years ago. My Playstations 1 & 2 have a wealth of great games, so I would never get rid of them.
The Gameboy is a nice piece of gaming history, but I have no games for it, it just came with the SNES bundle from eBay. I used to love my childhood Gameboy, but I can't see myself playing one these days. I guess I could take or leave my Dreamcast. The controllers are bulky and it asks me the date every time I power it up. And I don't have many good games for it, which is probably the main downside. The Atari has some good games on it, but most of them are turd. Asteroids is always fun though. I rarely play either PSP these days, although I had some good times playing GTA with colleagues. The multiplayer was great, especially as they couldn't look at your screen to figure out where you were. And lastly, my 3DS. It's a great console, but I feel like I don't want to waste any more time playing it until I get one of the new editions with the jazzed up 3D and controls. And mine has an annoying dead pixel which taunts me every time I play.
I don't have the biggest collection of games, but I've got enough that I've always got plenty to choose from, and still have many that I've not gotten round to playing yet. Here's a little view of some of the games in my games room:
There are more games downstairs, but this is the lion's share. I've really slowed down on the game buying in recent times. While I can't resist a bargain from a car boot sale or charity shop, I rarely pay full price for a new game these days. I just can't justify it with all these others waiting to be played.
Games rooms fascinate me, I love to see what people have done with theirs. Mine is a constant work in progress, only limited by space constraints. One day I'll have a bigger, better one, but until then I'll do what I can with what I've got. It has given me an idea for future blog entries though...
A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded a pic of my latest bead portrait to Instagram:
Katy Perry proved to be very popular, and she currently sits at over 150 "likes". I like to think it's due to my workmanship (she did take a lot of altering and tidying up from the original design), but I'm realistic enough to know that it's probably due to the boobs. It's always the boobs.
Anyway, as the praise poured in I started to notice a trend forming in the comments section. Here's a pic of the most recent comments posted:
It appears there is a new spam syndicate in town. That's a lot of suns, a lot of extremely similar messages, and a random model claiming to have gone to school with me. Not one genuine comment in the last eight. And these are just the comments that fit on one phone screen, there were more before too. Notice how they're all female, easy on the eye, and most of them have the same username format: word-number-word. If you look at their profiles it becomes clear they're spammers, with generic selfies and claims of being able to get you more followers.
The #katyperry hashtag seems to be the magnet for this bullshit, as I've never had it on any of my other photos. Instagram recently had a mass profile clearout too, where they deleted loads of inactive and spam accounts. Seems like the spammers fought back. This is the annoying thing about social media - sorting out the real people from the spammers.
And for the record, it's hard to figure out if you went to school with someone based on a black & white photo of their stomach 15 years later.
Just recently it occurred to me that the highlight of my (admittedly short) artistic career has never been mentioned on my website. It's an anomaly among my work, as everything up to and since the piece in question has been made of beads.
When I first began speaking to my representative at Turner Fine Arts last year, he was keen for me to try working in other mediums. My bead pictures are essentially mosaics, and he was interested in seeing if I could apply my experience to larger materials. With an open mind, I agreed, and got to work! I made a black and white design of John Lennon's face and used 1cmx1cm glass tiles for the mosaic. John Lennon wouldn't have been my first choice of subject personally, but we decided on him for his marketable face, and I didn't really mind as it was my first foray into a new field.
This was easily the biggest artwork I'd ever made, and dominated the floor of my games room for a few months.
With a finished size of about 5 feet high, after 26 hours of work the finished result was this:
After framing, the mosaic was put on display in Artifex gallery in Birmingham. Seeing it on display amongst other impressive works of art was really fulfilling, and I have to say, all the repetitive work involved in making it was worth it in the end!
Excellent organisation and communication was provided by Steve the organiser, and my stall was set up and ready to go – with some valuable help from my helper wife - by 9pm on Friday. I had brought plenty of stock, so it was tough deciding which artwork to display first. I ended up going with the pieces I thought would be most popular. I figured I could trust my own opinions, as this event was aimed at people like me!
Saturday morning rolled around and we got to the venue about half an hour before opening time. The queue to get in went round the side of the building, which was an encouraging sign!
It was great to meet the other sellers setting up their stalls, and the temptation to go on a pre-doors bargain hunt was huge, but I stayed strong and concentrated on my own stall. After pricing up my work and rolling out the banners, my stall was ready to go.
The roller banner to the side was provided by Turner Fine Arts, who represent me, and really added a slice of professionalism to my stall. In my room were various games vendors, a painter and my favourite – Paul’s Arcade Machines. I was right next to Paul and his beautifully crafted bartop arcades all day, and somehow resisted throwing cash at him in exchange for one.
Just look at them. Shiny and bright and packed with hundreds of classic arcade games, one of these is really the only thing my games room is missing. However, I was attending the market to make money, not spend it, so I concentrated on selling my wares when the doors finally did open at 11am.
After a short interview for Replay Retro’s Youtube channel, I made my first sale of the day to Matt, who runs the channel and couldn’t resist Sonic & Tails for a birthday present.
Many hours and sales later, the wife returned from her day out in Leeds to feed me and help me pack up. Thankfully, nearly half my stock had sold, and feedback about my work had been all positive. I met many colourful characters and had many interesting discussions, from the merits of the tape method (see my Beading Guide for more) to the history of the Ninja Turtles. Just before closing I managed to nip around and bag 3 Megadrive games for a tenner too, which was a nice bonus.
Looking forward to next year’s event, which I’ll definitely try and attend, and also on the lookout for any similar events inbetween.
I can’t explain this photo, but thought it would be wrong of me not to share it.
And here is the full video of the event, by Replay Retro:
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.