I very recently had the chance to chat with the ever talented and hard working 8 Bit Artist and ask him a few questions about his past, present and future artwork. A staple of the vg rock and art communities, and recently coming off of the 32 Bit Genocide show this past August, 8 Bit Artist is continuing to impress everyone with his new painting and art projects. You can check out all his amazing work, and perhaps even commission him for some amazing art at either myspace.com/8bitartist or 8-bit-painter.deviantart.com. Read on for an interesting interview as well as a short walk through some of his artwork (and be sure to click on the art for higher res shots of his work!).
What was the first piece of art you ever did in the 8 bit pixelated style? Where is that piece now?
The first piece I ever painted was just a plain mega man sprite on a single colored background. It looked like absolute ass. Lopsided. Blotchy paint. Squiggly pixels. It was a very good learning process for sure. My friend bought it off me for $10 and I joke with him to this day that the painting has increased in value to $11 since it was my very first painting. Safer investment than today’s stock market!
What was the most difficult piece you ever created? What was it that made it so difficult?
No piece is ever difficult, just more or less time consuming depending on the size of the pixels or the different color count. Pixel painting is very mechanical and anyone can do it if they really try and concentrate on it.
How difficult was the transition from 8 bit to 16 bit artwork?
It’s no more difficult. I just had to buy a lot more Tupperware because I had to save all the custom colors I mixed. I have almost 100 Tupperware containers and I’m still always mixing colors. Hahaha.
Have any new projects in the vein of the 3D goomba or Mega Man Pipes in the works?
I do have another set of pipes laying around that I had planned on painting Mario on one side and Luigi on the other. I just never got around to it yet. Painting on pipes and using the plumbers as the subjects only seems logical. As for the 3D Goomba/Para Troopa sculptures, I currently don’t have another one planned. The materials are quite expensive to buy and are very time consuming. I’d really have to stick to the smaller sprites with those because of how time consuming and expensive they are for me to make. If I was to make another one, it would most likely be a Spiny. I think that sprite would translate well to the wooden cubes.
What gave you the idea of creating a 3D block goomba?
A friend of mine bought me some little Nintendo magnets for Christmas the one year. These magnets were slightly raised up to give it a semi 3D look but it wasn’t fully 3D. It popped into my head about how cool it would be to make a sculpture that was still pixelated. Almost as if you stuck your hand into your TV and pulled out a Goomba and placed it on your floor. I was at my local art store and I saw these little wooden cubes for sale and the light bulb went off. Although they were 99 cents for 10 of them, making it impossible to build on the budget I had since the Goomba was 1440 wooden cubes. Luckily I found a website where I can buy them bulk and although still pricey, much more affordable. After gluing it together 1 block by 1 block, I sanded it and then painted it with a few coats, then clear coated it.
What about the Mega Man Pipes work, how did that come about?
I was out walking my dog Pixel when I came across all these pipes lying on the ground. A well known cable company was installing fiber optic cables in my apartment complex. I was looking for something to break up all the pixel painting I was doing and the idea just kind of hit me as my dog was pinching a biscuit in the bushes. I set my alarm for 3am to “permanently borrow” the pipes from them. The pipes were originally about 10 feet long so I had to borrow my friends electric saw blade to cut them all up to the size I had worked out. After that I had to paint them 180 degrees at a time and it was a pain. Haha, maybe that’s why I never started that Mario/Luigi pipe painting.
What game do you hope to do in the future and any reason why you haven't done that game yet?
There are only a few games definitely planned for the future and that’s Mega Man X and Final Fantasy 3. I’m also planning a Geno painting from SMRPG and I’m also doing a set of 5 Transformer paintings. Other stuff I come up with is just kind of random when I’m playing old school games. No real reason why I haven’t done those games yet. I just paint whatever ideas from to me spur of the moment. Oh I’m also planning a Paper Mario painting where he is banging Peach from behind. Hahahaha.
A while back you and Year 200X collaborated to simultaneously release a Zelda II painting and song. How did that come about? Any plans to do more collaborations like that with other bands?
That actually happened by accident. One night Tim from Y2KX and I were chatting on AIM and I had asked what he was working on and he mentioned Zelda II. Coincidentally I too was working on a Zelda II piece so I brought up the idea that we could simultaneously release our Zelda II projects to try and cross promote each other and help each other out. I wouldn’t rule out doing this again but most bands have their perspective albums out so it might not happen again for awhile.
No doubt that the art has gained more credibility through those shows. I Am 8-Bit’s art is priced pretty high and in the art world, that helps with credibility. Bit Genocide is more of an indie DIY show put by people who are active in the scene which I embrace more.
Are there any artists whose work you enjoy or are inspired by?
Obviously the talented artists that originally made all these sprites is my biggest inspiration. What they have done with such a limited color palette is amazing in my eyes. Besides them, a few friends I have that are artists such as Daniel Fleres, Gus Fink, bLiNkY and others inspire me as well.
There seems to be a fair amount of overlap of fans in 8 bit art and VG rock. Do you find that people discover your art through the music, or perhaps find the music after seeing your artwork?
Definite over lap. It goes hand in hand which is what the Bit Genocide shows are all about. I mean, if you love my stuff, how can you not like bands like Entertainment System, Year 200X, The Megas and vice versa. We have a very tight knit community here where we all try and help each other out. A good number of us all got our start around the same time. So we all came up with each other and I consider them all brothers from other mothers. Hahahaha.
What are some of the bands and artists from the vg rock and/or remixing scene that you most enjoy listening to?
I never got big into the remixing scene and I feel bad saying that. I need to head over to OCRemix and see what they have to offer. As for VG rock though, I like pretty much all the bands, but my favorites are The Advantage, The Minibosses, Entertainment System, Year 200X and The Megas.
What paintings are you working on now?
I will be starting the Transformers paintings very soon. Optimus Prime, Grimlock, Soundwave, Starscream and Megatron. I polled my myspace fans and those 5 were the most popular.
What future creations do you have in store? Are these commissions or ones you personally want to do?
Commission wise I have a Shadowgate painting I need to do and I might possibly get commissioned to do an insane Chrono Trigger scene. I don’t want to spill more than what I have already, but I will say this... in 2009, I will be starting a series of paintings that will span to about 9-12 feet tall. Nothing will ever top this. Ever.
What's the biggest difficulty in creating your art?
Keeping myself sane from painting pieces that are nothing but squares. I have already stopped gridding a canvas and looked up at my ceiling and my ceiling was gridded, hahaha. If you add up every pixel painting I ever painted (over 150), it is without a doubt over 1,000,000 pixels painted total.
What system was the first one you owned? What were some of the first games you remember playing, and how did you enjoy them?
NES was my first system. The first gaming memory I have is playing my SMB/Duck Hunt cart with my family. Duck Hunt irritated me so I put my light gun against the screen and raised hell (like I’m sure everyone reading this has done).
Still playing video games lately? Anything you are currently obsessed with?
I have a Wii but have been disappointed with it lately. Although De Blob is a great game and I’m looking to rent Wario Land. 2009 however has me excited with Sin and Punishment 2, Punch Out Wii, The Conduit, Fragile and Mad World. Of course Mega Man 9 was getting a lot of play as well. I can beat the game in around 40 minutes now and I’m looking forward to playing it again as Proto Man.
How do you typically start to work on a painting? Any beginning steps you go through before you start painting?
I find a scene or someone emails me a scene they would like and I would work about the specs of what pixel size and canvas size I will end up using. After that I will crop the image to what I will paint, grid the canvas to my pixel size I specified and then start painting!
What are the most common tools you use to create your painted work? what about bead sprites and other work?
Emulator, T-Square, Light Lead Pencil, Paint, Tiny Square Brush, Hand, Tweezers. Haha, pretty much sums everything up.
What advice do you have for other artists creating VG inspired work?
Don’t be afraid to try it. Anyone can do this if they try and concentrate. I’m always helping people out who want to start this and ask me questions. There are other pixel painters out there that will help with questions as well.
Anything else you would like to add, or any questions I may have missed that you would like to answer?
Come say hi to me at MAGfest 7 Jan 1-2 2009. Stay tuned for 64-bit Genocide coming summer of 2009 on the east coast. Also keep a look out for a similar show brought to you by myself and Leo Camacho called Retro Revolution also coming summer of 2009 to the Los Angeles area. I’m trying to plan that anyone who attends Retro Revolution will get a free piece of art from me. Just one way I can give back to an amazing community that has supported me in the past 3 years. Also check out Dr Octoroc’s (doctoroctoroc.com) bead sprites. He is doing some amazing 3D things with them and is really the poster child for the perler bead scene. Thanks to Anthony and all the other great staff at GM4A for giving me the opportunity to answer some questions!
I would like to extend my thanks to 8 Bit Artist for taking the time to answer my questions, and as a finale to this interview, here is a recently posted video made by 8 Bit Artist and friends about all the artwork he created for 32 Bit Genocide.