Who are you? Where are you based?
My name is Brandon Maldonado and I am based in the LA/Inland Empire area in Southern California.
When and why did you first start making your art?
I started about 7 years ago and all because I bought something off of someone on Etsy. It looked fun so I took a trip to Michael’s and started making things that I thought looked cool and before I knew it I had a lot more than I thought. My mom's friend was organizing an estate sale and she asked if I wanted to sell there so I did which snowballed into me going up to people having yard sales asking to sell there. It all eventually led to selling at pop ups and farmers markets.
What inspires your artwork?
People’s interest and being able to impress them. I strive to be a shop that kid me would have loved to visit. The look of a client’s face as you present them their order is what keeps me going. Kids going crazy as they pass by my store is amazing to see.
Do you remember the first piece you made?
It was a Charmander and one side was melting and the other side was crumbling. Ironing is hard lol.
What's the biggest piece you've ever made?
The biggest piece is Princess Leia in the slave costume on her side. She was 6 feet long and took about 12 hours to complete. I ran out of “Rust” twice making this.
What is your art workspace like?
Its a corner in my apartment with a dual monitor setup and drawers full of beads organized by color. One monitor is for the references and the other is for Netflix/videos.
What are the tools of your trade?
Cricut iron, perler beads, perler pen, pastels and my dual monitors. Gotta have that background noise.
What's the most time you've spent on a project?
I usually spend about 2-3 hours on a custom portrait piece, but I once made a huge virgin Mary that took about 15 total hours. Other projects have taken just as long but mainly because I’m not fully satisfied with my rough draft.
Can you talk us through your creative process? How you go about planning and creating a piece?
First I take a few days to find references and start to mentally piece a concept together before finalizing a concept and diving in. Then I do an outline/silhouette of the project and then start from the darkest colors to the lightest until it starts to come together, this is the longest step and revolves around Color Theory. From there I do about ~8 drafts before it finally looks like I want it to. Usually this step involves alot of tweaking and taking photos to see which tweaks look better. I then send the client a rough draft to approve before moving on to ironing. If the project includes a canvas, then I try my best to find either colors that compliment the main colors of the project or a scenery that is doable for my current skillset (pastel,spraypaint)
What are the most common questions you get asked about your art?
“What is this made of” and “how long does it take you to make this?!” haha
I also get a lot of “did YOU make this??!” Always fun to answer this one.
Have you had any art-related disasters?
YES. They happen about once a week, usually from my knee or elbow hitting the board.
A big one that comes to mind is before I learned the masking tape method. I was making a Heisenberg but I ironed it by itself then promptly watched it crumble before my eyes as the boards lifted and warped.
Do you have a dream project you'd love to make, but just can't justify yet?
I want a wall sized Mario piece, like World 1-1, but it seems absurd since I am limited in space in my apartment.
What was your most recent project?
I recently had a Harley Quinn and Joker piece that was pretty fun to do. The client wanted her tattoo as a Perler, so that was pretty cool converting the tattoo into pixel art.
What are your favourite experiences you've had as a result of your art?
When I first started, I used to sell at a school flea market in East LA. The first time I was there I was taken back by the amount of appreciation and love that my art was getting. Shortly after, I received an email from a young kid that made me cry.
Do you have any projects in progress or in the pipeline right now?
I am currently working on a 24x30 Canelo Alvarez piece for one of my favorite clients. It is an action shot of his recent victory. This client also recently commissioned a 22x28 Pancho Villa which was a lot of fun to work on.
Do you sell your art? If so, how can people find it?
I mainly sell art locally but I also have an Etsy page for my portraits and an upcoming website that should be up in a month or so.
My instagram bio contains it all :).
How can people find you online? Drop your social media handles, websites etc...
Anything else to share? Shoutouts, words of wisdom etc?
I would like to shoutout my mom first and foremost. She has always hyped me up and continued to push my creativity to levels I didn’t think were possible. I honestly hated making arts and crafts growing up, but now I can’t put them down.
Shoutout to my customers for keeping me going and for their words of encouragement. I am nothing without them, I owe it all to them.
Shoutout to my girlfriend Kim for her continued support and love, I am having the most fun I have ever had making these. P.S she makes our mini-perlers :) (My fingers are too fat)
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.