My love affair with pixel art

It all began with a little toy called The Animator.

Etch A Sketch released The Animator in 1985, and I began seeing commercials for it around my 6th birthday. I fell in love instantly. I begged and begged my parents to get it for me for Christmas. At that time, the price was a little steep for them, but they made it work.

By December of 1985, I had my hands on The Animator, and I began making my first pixel art animations!

Here is a video showing you what The Animator looked and sounded like:

This video isn’t mine… unfortunately, I don’t have my old Etch A Sketch Animator anymore 🙁
Although, honestly, after seeing this video and remembering the noises it made, I’m a little less wistfully reminiscent about it…

These days, I’m using Photoshop for my pixel art pieces and animations. I rekindled my love for pixel art thanks in part to Pixel Art Academy, a game that is being created by the talented Matej “Retro” Jan.

I was lucky enough to stumble onto the Kickstarter for Pixel Art Academy, and even luckier to learn that there was a whole community eager to create, consume, and love pixel art. I still have SO MUCH to learn, but that just motivates me more.

I never, ever want to stop learning.

You can follow my pixel art @SquidAndCrow.

Whose Principles?

Originally written for on 5/1/13

There are no truly universal principles of design. The basis for what makes good design does not rest solely on the shoulders of Dieter Rams (nor on those of  J. Paul Getty, or anyone else).

I would like to propose that every single client deserves their own set of principles.

As designers, we are charged with the task of problem solving. We’re aesthetic engineers. It is sometimes a delicate job to design branding, collateral, and web that not only reflect our clients but also do the very specific job they are designed to do. That is, the job of reaching the target audience and directing them appropriately.

Designing a website for a law firm, for instance, would be a decidedly different process than designing for a comic book publisher. Each of these obviously has very distinct clientele, and using one design standard for both does not necessarily address the gamut of needs that follow from those two audience groups. Accordingly, we must have a bevy of tools and skills at the ready to address each new client need discreetly. Sometimes, we have to set aside our standards and MacGyver brand new solutions (although, hopefully we’ll have more to work with than a paper clip and rubber band).

My point (and I do have one, I swear) is that design principles are useful guidelines, but that no reigning Principles of Design, boldfaced and capitalized, can hold court over every designer on every occasion. As designers, we must be wary of enclosing ourselves within too small a box, and instead must be agile enough to shift our beloved principles to meet the needs of our even more beloved clients.