How Pixel Art can Enhance your Handicraft Projects


The world of handicraft is full of pixels. Be it a square-based quilt, cross stitch or Hama bead, each depend on the careful formation of each “pixel” to work. But practitioners of any of the aforementioned crafts will inevitably suffer from a a lack of inspiration at some point or another. The cure for this common handicrafter ailment can be found in many places, but no sources are as unconsidered as the work of the pixel artist. In fact, the minimalistic nature of  pixel art can not only reignite handicraft creativity, but can also help us see our favourite crafts in a new, exciting, light.

What is Pixel Art?

“Pixel art” is a videogame term that has only entered gamer lingo in recent years due to the resurgence of “retro inspired” videogames that harken back to classic 8-but and 16-bit titles. Anyone who has spent time with the Super Mario Bros. series in the late 80’s or Sonic the Hedgehog in the early 90’s will be familiar with characters made up of pixels – knows as “sprites” – but may not truly appreciate their creation.

You see, these retro gaming sprites weren’t some bizarre artistic statement, but were instead created out of necessity. The limitations of videogame technology at the time meant that developers had to cram as much detail into a small area of pixels as possible in the hope that the resulting sprite resembled a character’s concept art. But the boundaries set by the limitations of the technology meant that developers were forced to devise creative solutions in order to have their visions become a reality. Twenty to thirty years later and many of these crude sprites have become instantly recognisable, international icons.

This being said, sprites and pixel art would not become popular again until the tail-end of the 2000’s following a lull created by the rise of computer generated 3D imaging.  But pixel art is by no means confined to videogame development. One such pixel artist, known online as Noirlac, adapts images from old videogames to create his own to create truly unique pieces. Noirlac also creates his own imagery, pixel by pixel, to great effect,

The wonderful thing about art like Noirlac’s is that it can all be created with a simple image editing software such as MSPaint. But even if videogames and computer screens are not your strong points, an appreciation of pixel art can still enhance your approach to handicrafts.


How Does Pixel Art Apply to Handicrafts?

If anything can be learnt from pixel art it is that by applying boundaries to your work, creative solutions will present themselves. Next time a large, time consuming project burns you out, try setting yourself the challenge of creating an interesting project of a much smaller size and limit it to only three for four colours. You’d be surprised at what your mind will conjure.

Lastly, mimicking the style of pixel artists will see your work resonate with an audience that may not have been interested in handicrafts before. The best part is, even if you aren’t a videogame player, you likely know someone who is, so perhaps consider asking for their opinion on an exciting new, pixel art inspired, handicraft project.

The pixelated sky is the only limit. Well, aside from those minimalistic, self-imposed boundaries you’ll be applying to your work!