Who are you? Where are you based?
My name is Dante also known as Long Black Fingers (because they are). I was born and raised in Los Angeles but have been living in West Hollywood for a long while. I wanna move back to L.A.
When and why did you first start making your art?
The first time I made something using Perler beads was in 2011. It was also when I discovered they even existed. My best friend who was a children's librarian at the time knows that I enjoy ironing clothes and making things and said that this would be perfect for me. Ten years later and I can't say she wasn't telling the truth.
What inspires your artwork?
At first it was video games so I would make Mario Bros. And Zelda based designs. Once I found sprite based sites it was over. I started making sixteen bit Genesis and Super Nintendo things. It then became seeing other artists and realizing that I could make more than just video games and finding ways to pixelate photos opened up a whole new world of possible creations. I began making things based off of movies and characters I liked later.
Do you remember the first piece you made?
Yes. It was what I thought was a Space Invader but it was just some weird green creature. After I was done I knew I had to find out more about these Perler things. The beads were all mixed and from different companies and melted strangely but at the time I didn't know anything about that kinda stuff. It also took me hours to make.
What's the biggest piece you've ever made?
It is either the Brock Samson from The Venture Bros., Sagat from Street Fighter, or Happy the Unicorn. I'd have to pull them from under the bed to be sure. Sadly I might be forgetting something even bigger. I get carried away sometimes and never measure anything and just make things.
What is your art workspace like?
My bed. I don't have bins with beads ready to go. I just grab my warped and peg missing peg board, a bucket with all my beads and hopefully some bagged ones, lay in my bed, and get started.
What are the tools of your trade?
My busted peg board, parchment paper from the grocery store, and an old pair of tweezers. In the ten years I've been making things I have used three peg boards. I discovered well into making Perler bead designs that there were all kinda devices to create designs but I like to keep it as simple for myself as possible. Use my hand for regular sized beads and tweezers for mini beads. That's a whole 'nother thing. I can't even picture myself sitting up and making something.
What's the most time you've spent on a project?
When I first started it would take me hours to make the simplest things. I'm still not sure why. But at this point I can make large designs in a few hours. If it takes more than four hours chances are I had to go to sleep or something. Once I sit down and start its done rather quickly. I'm gonna guess and say making Happy the Unicorn because it was shaped so oddly that I had to put it together in a lot of pieces and wait for things to cool before melting them together.
Can you talk us through your creative process? How do you go about planning and creating a piece?
I'll be sitting here watching a movie or thinking of one and think “Can I make that?” or “Should I make that?” or “Do I have enough beads for that?” If I do I will first check online to see if anyone else has made it and if they have or if someone made one that is incredible I won't bother. But if they haven't I'll find a photo and play around and pixelate it until it is not too ridiculous in size and uses colors I actually have. I'll open up the image in Windows Paint and write down the highest bead and how far it is from the edge of my board and begin. I've made plenty of things and about halfway through tell myself “You don't even like that character that much for something this big” and flip the board and make something else.
What are the most common questions you get asked about your art?
“Why don't you sell your beads?” “How much do you sell your stuff for?” “How long did it take to make that?” “How can you be so patient making those?” “Why don't you sell them online?” “Do you know how much you could make selling those?” No one asks if I have fun doing it which I do once I step away and look at it from a distance because there are times where I smile or get chipper seeing what I made. I also get asked to make multiples of something. I have and hated it.
Have you had any art-related disasters?
Oh, god, yes. I remember making a Millennium Falcon and my hand decide to start scatting as I rose from my bed to go iron it. I had to laugh when it happened. Making mini beads for the first time early this year I ruined a ramen cat design when I barely tapped it. Made an Invincible design in mini beads that got wrecked trying to iron it. A Lovecraft Country design did not melt properly and when I lifted the paper I was so mad seeing it ruined. I ended up just making the cat and Lovecraft one in regular size. Mini Perler beads are great when they turn out right.
Do you have a dream project you'd love to make, but just can't justify yet?
For years now I have wanted to make a massive Street of Rage 2 mural. I have already made characters from the game but can't justify how big the canvas would have to be. If I could just get a poster or print out of one of the levels from the game I could put them all on it.
What was your most recent project?
I think it was the Cactus Jack wanted poster. That was a random idea and thankfully I had some yellow paint for the canvas. I really like how it came out because it is smaller than I expected but if you know the design its easy to see. Right before that for the first time I took one of my drawings and pixelated it for the first time and now have a little dodo under my bed.
What are your favourite experiences you've had as a result of your art?
Recently my best friend sent me random photos of the things I have made her over the years sprinkled around her house and I didn't know I had made so many for her hidden in plants and on book shelves. I made one for her late cousin a rapper/producer named Ras G and her family received it and thanked me. I made another smaller one for her later. I have a friend that loves Prince and Star Wars so everything I have made with those are in her possession. I surprised an old co-worker with Rick & Morty designs a couple of years ago. Every drawer she opened had something hidden and she discovered a Mr. Meeseeks later in the day.
I also love when I make something based off of a pixel art designer and send it to them or tag them and they like it or no one has tried to make something based off of their art. I crashed an artists site once and was proud of it.
Do you have any projects in progress or in the pipeline right now?
I had to check my Bead Folder. Currently there is a horror movie based design I plan to make using mini beads because I like to punish myself. A Basquiat design. And in the future a Book Of Boba Fett idea. There have been some good TV shows this year and I have been playing around with making something based off of those.
Do you sell your art? If so, how can people find it?
I do not sell my stuff but have been giving money a few times. I tend to just mail folks something or if someone is at my place I'll just hand it to them...and then they tell me how I should be selling them. I think in 2022 I'll start selling my art because I'm getting tired of seeing people steal designs and rip people off online. I have seen things I have given away for free or would sell for five dollars be sold for $30. When I do start selling my stuff most of the charge will be for the shipping I imagine. I have posted images of under my bed and there are thousands of designs there that need to go.
How can people find you online? Drop your social media handles, websites etc...
You can find me at longblackfingers.blogspot.com. On Instagram at LongBlackFingers. I just added a SpaceHey page because I am old and miss the simplicity of Myspace under LongBlackFingers as well. Send me a message if you want. I answer questions and give tips when asked. If you comment “How much?” chances are I'll ignore you.
Anything else to share? Shoutouts, words of wisdom etc?
I would give a shoutout to my best friend Cam for even introducing me to Perler beads. The creators on Instagram like Koruptid Perlers, BeadArtBae, and ErinGoBrad. Various DeviantArt artists over the years. I have to add you because years ago I'm pretty sure your art was the first I spotted using canvas and backgrounds for the Perler art. My lady for helping me get paint and canvas for my stuff. Also a shoutout to anyone that asked me to make them something that I never would have but turned out awesome.
As for words of wisdom I would have to say give credit where credit is due. If you have heard me speak this is one of my biggest issues when it comes to art and creators. It takes a moment to link who you got a design from. It takes a moment to send them that link of the art or tag them. Seeing my stuff on Etsy or eBay or Facebook where someone took the image from my page and then selling it as if they made it bothers me so much. If you are okay with stealing the design of someone and then selling it then you're a trash person.
Be patient when you first get started. Learn which beads match well with others. Contact artists you like because chances are no one does. If you think something is too hard to make you should absolutely attempt to make it because why not? Try to be original if not at the start then later. Do things no one else is. And have fun doing it.
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.