With it’s strong lines (and little squares), pixel art was born in the 1970s with the arrival of the digital age and the first use of computers in the home. Over time, technology became smaller and more available to the general public, who were then able to use these machines to work, draw, write and play. These screens had limited resolution and a restricted colour scheme. Drawings were crude and poorly defined, but innovation was the main focus. Pixel art was loved for its playfulness and ease of use, and above all the machine’s ability to carry out these orders without a hiccup (unless we happen to mess up a line of code). Images made up of pixels quickly become more and more widespread, and today they are more popular than ever. Our screens contain millions of examples of pixel art, every time in an even higher definition. Films and video games are becoming increasingly detailed as a result.
But it was in the 2000s that pixel art truly became a movement. One generation on, and the 80s are a source of nostalgia, along with their music, colours, films and video games. People look back fondly at those little spaceships exploding in slow motion. Naturally, these images appeared on t-shirts and baseball caps, and when Invader started placing them on street corners, it became a movement. Many brands joined the 80s revival and took to the pixel for their logos, designs and characters.
Pixel art is, in the end, a stylised way of reproducing an image with a 1980s digital aesthetic. The trick is finding the detail that makes the subject clearly identifiable, which has been done very well in the above depiction of Donald Trump. If you feel like having a go yourself, the materials are straightforward: just grab some Posca pens and a squared notebook (5×5 mm squares). Choose your design and you’re ready to go!
Our POSCA pixel art tutorial (FR).
INVADER: game not over
French artist Invader is without a doubt the man who brought pixels into the art world. His work started to appear in French cities in the late 1990s before going international in the 2000s. He uses ceramic tiles to represent the pixels of little monsters taken from the game Space Invaders, displaying his creations on street corners. Everything is thought out and carefully elaborated, and his art has been turned into a vast project, taking the form of an active community that Invader will lead and actively participate in. When Posca met with illustrator Keramidas, he showed us his homage to Invader included in one of his comics.
This is just one of the many faces of pixel art. Be sure to check out Invader’s work on his website, which is bursting with great ideas.