The beading has slowed down since the London Film & Comic Con, but it's a relief to not have to work frantically to meet the deadline of an upcoming convention! Since the convention ended I've had a steady flow of commission requests, and have been working my way through them. Here's a sample of what I've been making lately...
The Mystical Ninja piece lays in a state of incompletion while I wait for a delivery of Artkal beads (they come from somewhere in Europe)... hopefully they will arrive soon.
As well as the commissions, I've been listing art on Etsy. I have over 30 pieces of varying sizes and prices - you can view them here.
And lastly, I've just booked a stall at the next London Gaming Market. It takes place on Sunday 6 November in Russell Square, London. Please get in touch if you're interested in a commission and would like to collect it at the market. I hope to see you there!
Over the years I have thrown away my fair share of artwork that I have made myself. I don’t think I’m alone as an artist who feels that if a piece isn’t up to my standards, then I don’t want it to be on display… anywhere.
The artwork that comes to mind here is the first Marilyn Monroe piece I made a couple of years ago. I was still a fairly novice beader who hadn’t settled on my best techniques and methods, and I bit off more than I could chew with this piece. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but I was determined not to give up on it. At 50x70cm it was the biggest piece I’d ever made, and my first problem was that I didn’t make it big enough. Yes, it was slightly too small for the frame, so I ended up going back and adding a couple of outside rows of beads to it, using just tape (using a pegboard wasn’t an option as it had already been ironed). This helped, but it took forever and still wasn’t a great fit for the frame. The other major issue I had was overmelting of a patch of beads right in the middle. Like I said, I was still learning and my iron was set too hot. The only thing I could do was cut the affected beads out, replace them and iron them, hoping they wouldn’t stick out too much. It improved the picture, but the replaced beads did look different, especially when looking at the picture up close. To try and blend in my alterations I ironed the front too, which I rarely do as the beads always melt unevenly, especially when you use different brands, like I do.
So I was never happy with Marilyn, even though my wife liked it and wanted it on our wall, and even after my (now ex-) agent wanted it for his art gallery. After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore and redesigned a new version that would fit the frame properly, and wouldn’t have any overmelted patches (as I’m pretty good at ironing now!). The result was this piece, which I’m now happy to have on the wall:
What happened to the other piece? It went in the bin. I didn’t want to sell or even give it to anyone else because I disliked it so much. I didn’t want that to be something that other people associated my art with. It needed to not exist.
The same went for an Iron Man portrait I made a few years ago. Again, I wasn’t that experienced, and followed the computer design a bit too blindly. So in time I became less happy with the quality of it, and the nail in the coffin came when I ironed the front, in order to make a smooth surface for signing. I didn’t like how it looked, and in hindsight I would have just ironed a small patch on the front… or just got something else signed! My plan was to get it signed by Stan Lee at the London Film & Comic Con, but the autograph number queuing system was so crazy that I didn’t get a chance in the end. So I had another piece that I wasn’t happy with that had to be destroyed.
The only other one I can think of is a Tomb Raider piece that I was happy with, but I used a new glue to mount it, and when it dried it expanded massively and spilled out through the beads. It wasn’t fixable, so that got binned too.
It’s never fun admitting defeat and throwing away hours of work, but I like to think I’ve learned from each one. Be it iron temperature, design quality or glue type, my technique has improved over the years due to mistakes I’ve made. And nothing inspires me to get to work on a new project like the need to move on from a failure!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of having a stall at the London Film & Comic Con at Kensington Olympia. I had attended, as a regular ticket-holder, two or three times in the past, and had noticed a clear hole in the market regarding pixel art. So this year I took the plunge and decided to see how my artwork would go down! It was my biggest event yet - the pic above shows part of the hall I was in (there were two trading halls, as well as areas for gaming, autographs and young authors).
I had spent the last few weeks creating art based on movies and comics, specifically for the LFCC crowd. You can see in the pic some of the bigger pieces – Deadpool, Harley Quinn and Pulp Fiction. I also made a lot of game sprites and mounted them on comic cover backgrounds, like so:
I thought this was a good marriage of videogames and comics, and would go down well with the Comic Con crowd. Well, as is often the case with selling at markets, you never know what is going to be popular! Most of my larger pieces went unsold, and a lot of the smaller ones I thought would sell also failed to move. And a lot of the ones I didn’t think would sell, did! Luckily I made a little catalogue for people to browse all the art I had with me, rather than just what was on display. And I could also accept card payments via my new PayPal card reader, which certainly helped secure a few sales! While I certainly sold enough to cover costs and make the event worthwhile, let’s just say that in three days of trading at the Comic Con I made less money than one day of trading at the last London Gaming Market. I put this down to a few factors:
· Increased competition – while I was the only pixel artist there, there were a lot of other stalls selling art, as well as all kinds of geeky goodies. I had a hard time not buying lots of art myself!
· Lacklustre celebrity lineup – Ron Perlman cancelled, leaving Jeremy Renner and Dolph Lundgren as the main names on the bill. Compared to last year, when the main stars of Back To The Future were present, and the year before, when Stan Lee was a guest, this year’s lineup wasn’t amazing.
· A broad range of interests – by this I mean that the convention appeals to those with an interest in films, comics, games, and geek culture in general. I tried to make my range of products as wide as possible, but it was hard to target all interests. And basically, not everyone is into pixel art. At a retro games market however, pixel art is likely to be popular due to the pixellation of old game graphics, and it is easier to target gamers specifically, especially since I now have a knowledge of what gaming art is likely to sell well.
So I might not be doing a comic con again for a while! Not that I didn’t enjoy it – it was awesome having a reason to be there for 3 days, and meeting a variety of people and seeing all the cosplayers come by the stall. It’s just that for the cost of the stall (it was the most expensive one I’ve had yet), and the amount of work and admin involved, I’ll be better off sticking to smaller gaming markets for now.
Like I said though, I was tempted by so much artwork, and I did end up buying this alternate Terminator poster from Mondo:
So what is happening in the Cave of Pixels now then? Well I have a few commissions to get on with, as I had previously delayed them until after the Comic Con. Pics of those to follow! Also, I’ve decided to utilise an Etsy page to sell some of the pixel art I’ve made that isn’t based on games. I’ve put a few listings on already, and I’ll be gradually updating it over the coming weeks, so please take a look sometime if you want something quirky to spice up your walls! More of my gaming art will soon be available on Game Over Gaming too – updates to follow when that happens.
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.