Hi pixel fans, it's high time for another Cave of Pixels update, so here goes! What have I been up to then? Well, I arrived back in the UK last month, approximately 10 days before the London Gaming Market, where I was set to have a stall. Some frantic beading later, I was ready and set up!
It was another great market, organised by Replay Events, and I was pleased to shift two thirds of the artwork I took. I'm already looking forward to the next one in November!
Having designed a lot of portraits while I was away, I was keen to get started on them. I made a few of my favourite models:
As you can see, Charlotte was happy to receive hers in the post! If you want to find these ladies on Instagram, their usernames are @charlottesomething , @dani_divine and @shellydinferno .
The rest of my work has been portraits, with a view to exhibiting in The Hubbub again. Here's what I've done so far, with more in the pipeline...
Enlarge the Ali one to see the level of detail involved, despite only using 7 colours. An eye for detail and plenty of patience is essential in this game!
Although it was the simplest design, the Hulk one was particularly time consuming because I realised about half way through that the shade of dark green I was using was too dark. The pic below shows the darker green in the top half, and the lighter shade in the bottom, which allowed the detail to show through better. It was a painstaking process, but I went back and replaced the darker beads.
I've also been fixing some older pieces I made, but never got round to presenting properly for one reason or another. For example, the Disney Princess Leia used to be mounted on a painted canvas that had been battered and dented in storage, so I decided to frame it instead.
The Avengers portraits had just been sat around unframed for ages, so I decided to make some comics collage backgrounds for each character to mount them on. I hope you'll agree this has made them look pretty good!
Another cool thing going on right now is a little exhibition I have at The Star pub in Dorking, with a superheroes theme. The awesome team at Game Over Gaming have organised this for me. Here are some pics:
The bead train never stops! Stay tuned to my social media for daily updates on my pixel art! Find me at @caveofpixels on Twitter and Instagram.
I’m still here, pixel fans. My lack of original output over the past few months can be attributed to my job sending me somewhere that makes it inconvenient to bead. I was home for a couple of weeks, and managed to make a few new pieces (as well as come oh-so-close to completing one before running out of beads, like a NOOB), but it’s back on hold again until I’m back in the country in July. I have been reposting my work on social media to keep me in the game, but I much prefer it when I can drop new pics and blow minds!
I have recently secured a stall at the London Gaming Market on Sunday 23 July. I get back to the UK around the 13th, so that will give me roughly 10 days to churn out as much games-related pixel art as possible! I usually aim to take about 80 pieces with me to fairs, as that’s about the maximum I can load in the car. I’ve got maybe 10 pieces right now, so I will have to be pretty productive upon my return! Those who have been in touch about commissions, I haven’t forgotten about you! Due to my low stocks for the LGM, I’ll have to hold off on the commissions until the fair is done.
Other than the LGM, my art will potentially be on display at The Star pub in Dorking, Surrey at some point, and there may be scope for another stint on the walls of the Hubbub pub later in the year. I will post updates as I have them confirmed. Of course, none of this can happen until I get home and get creating… I have plenty of ideas lined up ready to go though, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in again! My creative genes have been suppressed for too long, I really miss beading out here.
When home the other week, I did get some inspiration from a couple of books I recently bought. One was called the 8-Bit Art Book, and is pretty much what it sounds like – a coffee table book featuring art and screenshots from classic games, with a brief bit written about each game too. This was good, if a little light, reading and art-wise. The other book was one I had backed on Kickstarter last year: The NES/Famicom Visual Compendium by Bitmap books. This book has a lot more in the way of writing about the system and games, and each page features awesome screenshots, many of which have formed the inspiration for pieces I’m going to make for the LGM in July. There are also extended pages featuring maps, full levels, fan art etc. The presentation is excellent and overall it’s a great book for retro game fans.
Six months out of the country has meant I can't exhibit at fairs, or even make commissions. I know it's hard on you pixel fiends out there, having to survive on my recycled pics on social media, but imagine how it feels for me! I went from quite a prolific output down to zero overnight...
However, those of you who have missed me at the fairs this year can take some solace in the fact that there is a decent selection of my work available online, through Game Over Gaming.
That's right, a fairly big selection of my gaming themed work is available for sale here. Also, if you're into retro games, they have a great selection of reasonably priced games and consoles, all fully cleaned and tested.
So until the second half or the year, that's all you're getting I'm afraid! As soon as I'm back and creating, of course I'll be posting it all over social media, and I'll post any updates for stalls I have at fairs. Until then, keep it retro!
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!
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.