Reading Blake Reynold’s article on why he’s deciding to give up on pixel art got me thinking — is pixel art as a medium doomed to obscurity? Should we all be hanging up our 1 x 1 pixel brushes and 16 colour palettes and getting with the times? Have I wasted the last four years of my life trying to create the best pixel art app for a group of people that will soon cease to exist? I don’t think so!
For me, pixel art has never been about reminiscing or emulating the past. When I first got into video games, I started with a PlayStation and Final Fantasy VII, just as mainstream pixel art console games were disappearing. I only got into pixel art about five years ago, and have been completely captivated by the medium since. It’s surely one of the purest, most rewarding forms of art there is. Like a great novel or an impressionist painting, it provokes imagination in the beholder. But the reason I get really excited about pixel art is because the medium is still so young.
Now that we’ve released the shackles of the technical limitations from which pixel art was born, and it has instead become an artistic choice, what’s being created is mind blowing. Five years ago, I couldn’t have even imagined that games as stunning as Sword & Sworcery, Super Time Force, and Hyper Light Drifter could be made. Imagine what could happen in the next five or ten years. The very best pixel art is surely yet to come. (Check out this excellent article from the Verge too; “Pixel art games aren’t retro, they’re the future”.)
There will always be stupid people who don’t get it, who confuse the medium for the genre. (Some people think that all cartoons are for kids, but having just finished watching Death Note, I can assure you that’s not true.) Pixel art is just a medium, and one many people love. When has art ever been about appealing to the masses? True art is always divisive. So why would you give up doing what you love to try to cater to idiots? Especially when pixel art is just starting to grow up, and who knows what form it will take in the years to come.