Pixel by Pixel

You may have heard I have an art show coming up. This isn’t my first art show, but this is my first pixel art show, so I wanted to talk about what pixel art means to me, an artist who originally started off as a traditional illustrator.

A crazy thing happens with pixel art. At first, it’s just this blocky and ugly thing, right? But then you start to play with it, to learn its restrictions and lean into them, and suddenly really really cool things start to happen.

Like I said, I come from a traditional art background: painting, illustration, and comics. So I know a thing or two about color, composition, and all that good stuff (at least my Bachelor’s degree says I do). But for me, pixel art has always felt like a completely different process. It’s like I’m a kid stuck with some very limited toys; here you go, you can play with some squares, nope, you just get squares. Okay, you can have some different colored squares, but that’s it. Have fun. Ironically, I find these restrictions very comforting, because a blank canvas is beyond intimidating on a good day. With pixel art, I always have one square to start with.

When it comes to pixel art, I’m a fan of a particular style–that low low resolution stuff. Characters only 10 pixels tall kind of stuff. With a limited color palette–none of that gradient fade business. Just smooth, flat, color planes. Less is more. And don’t get me wrong, I love the high-res detail stuff too. But ultimately, with low-res art, there’s this extra interpretive element when the lack of detail gives our brains just enough wiggle room to fill in the blanks. That contrast that’s created where all of a sudden a little mess of blocks gets interpreted as a busy skyline complete with trains and traffic and little people living little lives in little itty bitty windows. And then you animate it and it gets even crazier. These harsh, blocky lines start to flow and stretch and bounce and yet it’s still a pile of harsh little squares. It’s that contrast that drives me nuts and I love it. When looking at a good piece of pixel art I often find myself thinking, “that is just so damn…clever.” This is why pixel art grabbed me in a way no other medium has.

That’s what this show represents; how pixel by pixel, I started building shapes, asking questions, adding, subtracting, experimenting with different colors, moving things around. Each of these pieces started with that one little square and with me, getting to play.

ROC Game Dev Space & Art Opening of
“Pixel by Pixel” the Art of Dennis McCorry
Saturday, February 23, 2019, 6PM-9PM
Sibley Square, 250 E. Main St. Rochester, NY
https://www.facebook.com/events/280977112578849/