Pixelart Interview w/ Decryptolorian & Artist Genuine Human
The Whale Community continues producing a steady stream of interviews with artists and other folks involved with the NFT space. For this interview, Decryptolorian talked with the renowned pixel artist, Genuine Human (whose real name is Jay) about pixel art, creative inspirations, and many other topics. Here are a few excerpts from that interview.
I’m actually a kids media creator, mostly. That is my career. I make cartoons and I direct, and I write, and I produce. So pixel art is very much a kind of second thing. It began just as a hobby, a way to unwind, and really went from there. It just kind of snowballed a bit around 2015. It just kind of caught on a little bit and I got linked to the synthwave scene after making a video for for Gunship. And that was cool because I totally love synthwave music. So I’ve been doing stuff with with synthwave artists ever since. But, yeah, my main job is actually in kids media. I started as an animator many, many years ago, back in the pencil and paper days, and went into a whole load of things — storyboarding and designing, and then directing, and from there writing and creating shows. So that’s quite a specific thing. And then, I guess, no no artist seems to have just one creative outlet. Everybody has different things that they do. And I started making pixel art. I was making little stupid cartoons. Little, funny, single panel cartoons. And I started doing them in pixel art because it was quick. I was doing them really basic. They were they were like really, really, really basic.
I did a lot of Batman ones because I don’t like Batman. I have this issue with Batman that his super power is that he’s rich. So I just kind of made these little single panel cartoons. There’s just so many of them. I made hundreds of these. And I did them because they were quick. I was actually doing them on an iPod Touch with my finger, and then they they started to get more complex, and take longer, and I guess I just got a bit more adventurous with it.
It just kind of went from there. So pixel art really is still a hobby to me. I ended up taking on more work. And definitely, around 2017 and 2018, I actually took on quite a lot and then started doing stuff for clients that was very much just work, you know. It was just, ‘pay me and I will make pixel art’, and I hit a point where I didn’t enjoy it anymore. So I actually just wound that down because I only wanted to make it for the enjoyment of it. And so when I hit a point where I realized I was not enjoying it anymore, I stopped the client work. I have a job, so it’s like, why would I? I don’t need to take it on for money. So now I’m at a point where most of my art is just for myself. It’s just my own explorations. Every now and again I will do stuff for people, but it’s only people that I really love. So absolutely, it’s really about the enjoyment for me and the exploration.
Music as Inspiration
I think music is a huge inspiration. You know when people talk about inspirations for artwork, I would say about 90% of my inspiration is in music and not actually in visual arts. And the ten percent that is visual, probably is largely my childhood. So music, yeah! I hear, and I’ve heard other people say this too, I hear music and I see scenes. I see things happening and I feel a vibe, and picture places, and picture characters. And I think that’s part of the storytelling. I think that’s part of where my day job and and my pixel art meet. Because my day job is very much about story. It’s story for kids and it’s simple, nice stories, but it’s it’s all about narrative. And I like that in pixel art as well. I like that you can plant little stories in there, you know. You will find a lot of my work is very busy but that’s partly so that you can kind of just stay there and spot these little stories in it. Little things going on in the details and it’s, I guess it’s world building. But yeah, I just like the story. But a lot of that is inspired by music and vibes.
Introduction to Crypto Art
I remember, originally, when it was first explained to me, I didn’t get it and it it was quite baffling because a lot of it is very technical. But what I realized is, you don’t need to know a lot of the technical stuff. The simple concepts are what kind of made sense to me. And very much the analogy of physical art and how physical art is sold and doing that for digital art. That’s when it clicked to me. That you can sell an original and people can, with a real painting people can still see prints and they can see photographs of it online, but someone attaches value to an original in a way that they don’t with those other forms. And I thought that’s when it kind of clicked with me. It’s this weird thing of ownership that we have as humans. And whether right or wrong, we’ve got it. People like to own stuff. Even sitting here, I’ve got some books back there that I know I could find those images online at any point. But I like having the books. And so I guess that that kind of idea is when crypto art clicked with me.
It is a digital form of ownership that previously wasn’t necessarily possible because you couldn’t have ownership over a digital file until it was locked to the blockchain. So that’s really when it started to make sense. But it did take me a while. And even then, when I first got into it, I remember it was the WAX community that originally jumped on me on Twitter. And I had no idea what what even they were proposing to me, you know. It was like there’s a lot of a lot of very technical things around crypto art that that I know exists, but it would take a long time to kind of delve into and understand if you weren’t there from the beginning. So I guess I’ve kind of figured out enough to to get into it. And there’s a few few other things that I find interesting. But yeah, it’s an area you could get lost in. There’s just so much going on. But it’s interesting, it’s exciting. It’s an exciting space.
Art and the Blockchain
I think it’s going to change how we think of digital assets. One of the things about crypto art, is that it kind of changed my own relationship with my art. I started to think of it differently. And I think what that was — we went through this phase where music was free. Everyone could have music. You could just get it, you could get it immediately. And then into kind of subscription services where we really paid very little for a lot of art, and I’m talking music and visual arts and everything. We haven’t attached much value to it over the last while. A lot of people have no sense of value for it at all. And we can see visual art on Twitter every day for free! The amount of access we have to art is amazing. To think of previous generations, we can access art of all kinds at any point, and I think that comes with that a kind of transient and almost, in some form, a lack of of of respect for it in a way. I don’t mean that people just don’t respect art, but you know it’s just so easy.
And I think what side effect of that is that a lot of artists, and I kind of count myself in this, didn’t really value our own art as well. We make art and we just put it out there and that’s just how we do it. We just put it out there with no expectation of anything to come back. People make money on client work or stuff like that, but the actual art we make for ourselves is often valueless in terms of our perception and crypto art changed that for me. What I realized was, regardless if anyone buys it, you know nobody has to buy it, but i’m essentially the first collector of my own art. I make the art and I’m actually making it for me, regardless of whether anyone else likes it. That, in itself, gives it a level of value to me. And that was enough to make a difference. To appreciate my own art a bit more rather than, this is just the thing I do.
Pressures of Social Media on an Artist
It’s a weird thing with social media and I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy. But we have this system of like likes and retweets and whatever that very much put a number on your artwork. And you see some artists and they have a very high number and then you look at your art and sometimes it doesn’t. And I do remember early on that that would bother me and I had to remind myself that I’m comparing myself these people who do this every day. But the other thing was that I realized, that with pixel art, and I make largely kind of cyberpunk pixel art stuff that’s very much a niche within a niche, and not everyone is going to like it, not everyone’s going to get it. For a lot of people, it’s just not their thing. But there are people who adore it, and there are people who are incredibly passionate about i,t and that I think that means a huge amount. I think at times that it’s not so much about the large numbers and whether everyone likes it, but it’s it’s the passion of the few that counts for a lot sometimes.
And it is nice to have that feedback, you know. It’d be great or that not to matter at all, but it is nice when you get a nice comment on twitter. You know I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But it’s great when people find your art who are passionate about it. And one of the things I love about pixel art, but I’ve also now found it in the crypto art community, is it’s a very warm, supportive community. People look for other like-minded people and people making cool art and there’s a lot of support in that community and I think it really it really counts for a lot. But I found the same in in crypto art and very quickly started making connections. It was very, very quick to make connections because everybody’s kind of looking out for each other and looking looking to see what everyone else is doing and kind of curious and there’s a lot of support there. It’s cool!
On the possibilities with digital art
So I did this beach image quite a while ago. I did a day version and a night version of the same place. And so I was looking at some of my older stuff and thinking, ‘Well, can I mint some of this stuff?’ and then somebody suggested, if you’re going to mint these two, you should try and put them together in a single NFT so that it displays as daytime when it’s daytime and displays at night time like when it’s night! And I just thought, that’s very cool! So at the moment I am doing up different versions for different seasons. So what I’m hoping to create here is an NFT that shows the same shot, the same beach, but displays differently depending on the time of year and the time of day.
So that’s something that’s kind of exciting to me and this is what I love about it compared to say physical art. Not that there’s anything wrong with physical art, physical art’s great. But when you can do this kind of stuff, you know, it is that programmable angle that adds something very exciting to it .
Watch the full interview for more interesting anecdotes and to hear about his annual New Year’s pieces, why old dogs make him sad, and how many layers he uses in Adobe After Effects!
You can see more of Jay’s work and follow him at the following links: