For a long time I worried that pixel art had no place amongst my body of work. That it was an aimless and inconsequential outlier, a recessive hobby that existed in a vacuum, neither helping or harming the illustrative work made outside of it. Until recently, the allure of creating pixel work remained a mystery to me. I knew I enjoyed the tedium (a sort of digital equivalent to knitting), the purposefulness of placing each square, but these simple comforts were a smokescreen for that unanswered question, “What does pixel art have to do with my other work?”
The answer, which seemed painfully obvious once I realized it, is geometry. So much of my illustrative work is unapologetically geometric, reducing complex shapes to their geometric underpinnings and simplifying organic lines into hard angles. It’s no wonder that my infatuation with pixels began at the same time I began practicing this reductive approach to illustration. Pixel art requires elements to be reduced to a series of pronounced squares, throwing out the circles, triangles, and other polygons that I utilize in my other work. In that way, pixel art approaches a reductive purity that my other work can only hope to touch upon; after all, it’s difficult to argue with the simplicity of only using right angles.
My pixel art is, primarily, a celebration of the building blocks we look at every day that are slowly being rendered obsolete by high pixel density displays; it also stands as an homage to the low-fidelity video game graphics of my youth that placed an emphasis on imagination over skin textures and sweat physics. While the strong connective tissue to 8 and 16-bit games will likely prevent pixel art from becoming more than an illustrative niche, practicing this style has given me a valuable insight into the art of illustrative reduction.
By Alex Griendling / Blog / Twitter