I’ve been following the talented 8bitboutique [@scg8bit] on Twitter for the past few months, and I’ve been encouraging him to share more about his history and motivations… today it’s my pleasure to share this story that’s as inspiring as his artwork.
First, I’ve been dying to ask, why sharpies?
Sharpies are awesome! Through doing this I’ve become a bit of a stationary geek, and I have some really expensive pens! Bit you cant beat the humble Sharpie. Actually I don’t know if anyone realises, but in addition to hand cutting every single element in my 3D Art I also hand colour every edge of every piece. I print out the art using a high end professional Cannon Photo printer onto 300gsm ultra gloss stock, and when the pieces have been hand cut, you can see white edges which we don’t want in the finished piece, so I meticulously hand colour the edge of each piece using one of my 50 colour matches Sharpies … well you did ask!
Love the layers you use, reminiscent of old school parallax scrolling. What came first the style or your desire to produce retro pieces?
Well actually I started making the miniature arcade models, and I spent years perfecting those, to the point where I can sort of see anything and visualise in my mind how it can be created in three dimensions. I’ve always been really creative .. its what drives me, and a customer asked me one day if I could make them a picture in 3D with arcade games in , so I sort of developed the style. Now the complex style you see I use in a lot of my new pieces, I have developed over many, many hours. I just wanted to keep pushing it and seeing how complex I could make pieces.
Any formal training and qualifications?
Well yeah, but certainly not in this field! Ha. I graduated from Sheffield University in the year 2000 with a BA in English Literature & Philosophy. I have no training at all in art, everything I have done has been completely and totally self taught, through sheer determination. A favourite quote of mine is by the poet and artist William Blake who said that ” the fool who persists in his folly becomes wise the long way around ” and whilst I certainly don’t claim to be wise in any way, it is certainly a philosophy I have never had too far from mind whilst I have been pursuing this dream of mine
Sega or Nintendo?
Can’t I have both? ha … no? OK then Sega it is. In the great playground debates of the 90’s I was firmly in the Sega camp, and to this day , i am currently carefully painstakingly collecting a beautiful collection of both Japanese MegaDrive and Saturn games.
Anything you’ve tried to produce in the past but are not happy with sharing?
Well a lot of my early art work was the shits I can tell you. A lot ended up in the bin too. I pretty mcuh share all my work as I go along now though, even showing work in progress, on Twitter and Instagram
Do you produce anything more contemporary?
I do a lot of commission work, and I can generally create anything anyone asks for, so recently I did something for No Mans Sky… I would do more contemporary art but not many people seem to request it.
Favourite games, genre, last game you bought, last completed, what game are you currently enjoying?
My favourite games ever would be Super Mario World and Outrun. Mario World is just the Perfect game in every way. Outrun, as it has very special memories for me from my childhood, playing it with my Dad abroad in the 80’s. Last game I bought would be one for my MegaDrive collection … Bare Knuckle 2 aka Streets of Rage 2, last game completed … would probably be the latest Uncharted, and right now I honestly don’t get much to play with my art blowing up and launching the Pixel Fiction clothing brand , but one the little bit of time I have managed to steal I have been playing Kaitai Daisensu / In the Hunt on the Saturn this past week.
Love your scaled models, what was your motivation and inspiration to give them a try?
Thanks! I have always been fascinated by miniatures and I totally love the art and aesthetics of the old arcades. When i left my previous occupation I was mega stressed out and I started making these as a way to have a bit of a hinterland and escape the stress. Much as I am, I became a touch obsessed with it, and I ended up creating hundreds of designs of both arcades and pinball tables.
Love your https://www.patreon.com/8bitboutique sponsor concept, like to tell us about the idea and your future plans?
Thanks! Yeah I’m giving it a try. I’m not much of a salesman and I get a bit embarrassed at the thought of Patreon but feedback has been great so far. People can subscribe from as little as $5 per month, but for $45 per month ill send you a hand created Art Merchandise box containing over $100 worth of my work and because I super appreciate that someone would commit to this I go above and beyond to make these boxes awesome.
I see you just launched the Pixel Fiction brand?
Yes! This has been a total labour of love and something I completely believe in. I wanted to create a cool gaming clothing brand that featured subtle and creating designs. The idea is that Pixel Fiction are imaginary companies that exist in the video game fictional universe, so like our debit T-Shirt which just launched, is SMB Plumbing & Heating, as if Mario & Luigi were real plumbers for hire. I also wanted to spend the extra money and create the highest possible quality clothing, so these are printed on premium top quality 100% ring-spun cotton shirts, and are accompanied by lots of accessories that sort of back up the fiction of the T-Shirt, such as Mario’s business card from the plumbing company .. that kind of thing. I also invested in deluxe boutique packaging for these too. I have spent a ton on this project so it will take a while to show any kind of profit, but i twas important for me to self fund this rather then crowd fund, and I wanted to create some merchandise that I was proud of, that I would buy myself.
Tell me about the California Games License?
Yeah one thing I’m doing is developing 8 Bit Boutique to be a sort of deluxe game art / gifts site, so you will see a lot of cool new products appearing for sale, in addition to being the only place to buy my limited edition art. In addition to this I am bringing to the site lots of officially licensed products, with my very first license being California Games, which was such an awesome game. I love the idea of developing high quality niche merchandise for niche retro gaming properties.The first ever Officially Licensed California Games merchandise will be launching very soon!
You seem to busy ! do you have any other plans for the future?
In addition to continuing to develop my own art, and the licensed products, and developing 8 Bit Boutique to sell a carefully curated range of deluxe gaming products, including the Udon range of game art books. I’m actually working on two book projects of my own, one of which I can tell you about now… will be called Pixel Eyes, and will be a series of deluxe hardcover books, exploring the art and design side of video games!
Closing thoughts, anything you’d like to add?
I gave up on a corporate career to do this. It wasn’t making me happy and after some really harrowing experiences in life I became very reflective. I came up with this crazy dream that I could do this for my job and make a good living, and I have to say that its been a very challenging road.
Along the way to make this happen I had to take on a few part time jobs, including being a 36 year old paperboy and also night shifts in a warehouse. I was not willing to give up on my dream. The last thing my Dad ever said to me was to never stop dreaming, as he had a huge regret that he stayed with his corporate career and did not follow his dreams. I made a resolve that I would rather die on my feet then live on my knees, and so after 9 years of toiling away at this, its all finally coming good. Every day now is like a dream come true for me. I love my customers and I genuinely put my heart and soul into every piece of art I create.
Thank you 8bitboutique