Happy new year pixel fans! Today my new year started in a great way - by setting up an exhibition of my artwork! Yes, if you go down to the Hubbub Cafe Bar in London (on the Isle of Dogs) you will be able to see a selection of my artwork on the walls, and buy some if you so wish ;-)
The bar used to be my local when I lived over the road, so I can recommend it for food, drinks, and plays (the bar is upstairs, a theatre is downstairs)!
Evening all. It's high time I posted another update, so here goes! Firstly, thanks to all those who came to the London Gaming Market last month - it was another great event and I loved meeting everyone and getting so much positive feedback on my artwork. Unfortunately, that will be my last market for a while, as I'll be out of the country until July next year. This also means no more commissions until then I'm afraid.
However, the good news is that more of my art will be available online, through the awesome Game Over Gaming. More of my art has recently been added to their site, with lots more to come, as they will be handling all sales while I'm away.
The "For Sale" section of my site (see the menus at the top of the page) also shows each item and links to the listing at Game Over Gaming.
And lastly, I wanted to share a piece I recently made for one of my wife's friends for Christmas:
And yes, if you look closely, the silver beads spell "whatever bitch".
...since my last update, so here goes! First off, I've been busy beading, so no change there. After months of no sales on Etsy, 5 pieces sold to the same customer, which was awesome! But other than that, I've just been steadily building up stock for the next London Gaming Market, to be held on 6 November. I'm a regular there and can't wait! Here's a taster of what I'll have on offer...
It's tough to cover everything I'd like to make, for example I haven't had a chance to make any Ninja Turtles this time, which is a shame (I love TMNT). There will always be people asking for stuff I wanted to make, but just didn't have time to. However, I did realise I hadn't made any Street Fighter 2 sprites this time, so I'm currently in the process of correcting that. Look out for a pair of SF2 pics that will dragon punch your socks off!
Take it easy pixel fans, until next time!
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.
Another random update to say I'm still here, and still beading away! The London Film & Comic Con is creeping up and I'm attempting to make as close to 3 days' worth of art as I can. My thinking is this: I took about 80 items to the London Gaming Market, so I should aim to take 240 items to the Comic Con... not going to happen, but it's good to have a target!! I've been away on a course with work this week, but fear not, I brought my beads so have been using every spare minute of downtime to produce sprites.
Here are some of the sprites I've produced since Sunday night:
There are about 8 more not in the pic, and my to do list has many more on it too. I won't get them all done, but my output for this week is already looking prolific! I'm not looking forward to framing them all next week however...
Another thing I've done this week is create a couple of time lapse videos of me working on a couple of sprites. I've even added music to them and everything! The first one I did was a Captain America NES sprite:
I used the Hyperlapse app to film the video, then added the music in a free program (Videopad) on my Mac. I was surprised how easy it was to edit.
Emboldened by my first attempt, I then filmed me making a bigger sprite, and I also added title cards and a screen at the end showing my social media info. Enjoy!
Now time for some hard earned rest after so much beading!
It's been a busy few weeks in the Cave - most of my energy has been focussed on creating enough artwork to take to the London Gaming Market yesterday. I ended up with 81 items to sell, and it was the first time I used my new gridwall display system.
The gridwall really helped show off my art and gave me a good way of displaying the bigger pieces. I'm considering getting a second one to go with it and expand my display space even more.
As usual the smaller pieces sold best, although quite a few larger ones went too. All of the Sonics, Marios and Links went quickly - I really need to make more of them for next time! All in all I sold 51 of the 81 items, and it was my most successful market to date!
So what else have I made lately? Here's a little gallery:
As you can see, my box art collection has had a few new entries! I also finished off the Streets of Rage 2 arcade picture I mentioned last time, and it was the first picture I sold on Sunday, going to another stall worker before doors even opened!
I have been working on a couple of commissions too - Sakura from Street Fighter and some Pokemon badges. I had to do a lot of research for the badges as I missed the whole Pokemon craze (think I was a little too old at the time).
My next push is to get as many film and comic related items completed before the London Film & Comic Con at the end of this month. I have about 30 items ready, but as it's a 3 day event I'd like to have 3 times as many items as usual! Probably not going to happen, so I've just got to get as much done as humanly possible - may require a few days off work to concentrate on it! Anyway, I have managed to get these movie-themed pieces done in the last couple of weeks, hopefully they'll go down well:
And lastly, I started an Atari 2600 Empire Strikes Back picture last week... well it didn't go to plan. What started out as a 30x40cm piece turned into a 21x30cm piece when the beads refused to cooperate during the ironing process. Somehow they just kept coming away from each other until it was impossible to fix - there were gaps and beads that didn't line up... I just couldn't leave it as it was, the quality was too poor for me to want to put it on display and try and sell. So I salvaged what I could, and now it's just a picture of an AT-AT walker, rather than the whole scene:
It could have been worse, but it's not as sweet as the full scene it started out as. However, I plan to remake it in full again, and vow to pay more attention to the ironing, so that the same mishap doesn't happen again!
Hello again! My last couple of posts have focussed on the details of making a couple of portraits, so this one is about the little projects I've been doing inbetween.
First up, a few more in my series of sprites with box art backgrounds:
I have some more of these ready to go, but I haven't photographed them yet. And I have even more in the pipeline, but I need to buy some more frames first!
I've framed a few Nintendo sprites:
I also beaded a scene from Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on Gameboy. This was the first Zelda game I played, and I even managed to finish it too (with the help of a magazine guide or two!)
In case you're wondering if I'm going to do anything non-Nintendo, then worry not, because I'm currently working on a pretty cool Streets of Rage 2 sprite designed by a fellow beader (Amanda L Kent on Instagram). It's turned out pretty big, and I'm going to have to wait for a delivery of neon red beads to finish it, but I think it's going to be pretty awesome. Here's a preview:
Last week I also made another Punch Out piece of Little Mac and Glass Joe, and fixed the background on my Mac Vs Tyson piece.
I currently have one commission in progress, and will post pics of that when framed. Then I have another commission to be done by mid-July, and another one I'll be starting early August. I would start it earlier, but I'm feeling the pressure to build up stock for the London Gaming Market (3 June) and London Film & Comic Con (29-31 July)! So the next two weeks are all about gaming art, and next month is all about movie and comic art!
In other news, Game Over Gaming are having success with selling my art on their site - just last week the last of my Streets of Rage fighters sold, and my "I Am Error" Zelda 2 piece went to an international customer too! If you want to see what else is available, check out my For Sale page!
Last time I teased you with this while it was in progress - today I can show the end result, and how I got there.
Below is the original reference picture, and to the right of it is the computer design.
As usual, it was generally ok and provided a good basis to work from, but a lot of the detail wasn't good enough in my opinion. Firstly, she wasn't blonde enough! This is obviously a problem, given the subject, so I accentuated the hair a little. I felt the glasses needed some definition too, and also made it clearer where one lens ends and her left eyebrow begins, as in the design it just looked like an oddly oversized lens. I also felt the reflections needed touching up, as it's not very clear what they are in the design.
Lastly, the lips needed fixing. I thought the design didn't make them as pronounced as they are in the picture, and that the shading wasn't accurate. So a lot of time was spent reshaping them by eye!
Overall I was very happy with how it turned out, and so was the customer, which is the main thing!
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.