All I want is to look at a piece I did and get a warm cozy feeling in my gut.
Mandrill is an elite level Pixel Artist and a Moderator of PixelJoint – one of the largest communities devoted to PixelArt. You can easily differentiate his pieces which always seem to show great personality and almost vector level quality winning him Monthly Top Pixel Art multiple times. If you don’t drool, your love for pixels isn’t real. Haha
Let us start with our Interview!
Welcome to KubaerGaming Mandrill! I am so excited to have you here.
AJ = A2J2TIWARI, Mandrill = Mandrill
AJ: PixelJoint, Website, Twitter
Mandrill: PixelJoint, Twitter
AJ: First things first, where does your Handle come from? Is it love for Pokemon?
Mandrill: Even though, like most people, I 'wasted' countless hours on Pokemon Red Edition on my Gameboy as a kid my name has nothing to do with gaming. As some people might know, I'm heavily interested in everything nature and music which makes your second guess right to about 33.33%. It's true that I've always been fascinated by the colourful and menacing face of male mandrills which fits the art world pretty well. However, the other two factors which made me go for a monkey's name is the soul/funk group Mandrill and the amazing painting by German expressionist Franz Marc simple called 'Der Mandrill' of which we had a copy of in the hallway of the flat I grew up in. It took me years and years before I understood what the patches of colours were about, haha!
AJ: I am sure everyone wants to know your story. How did Mandrill come to being? What got you into Pixel Art?
Mandrill: I grew up in the 90s and always had a soft spot for video games which lead me to believe that I could become an illustrator or concept artist for the gaming industry one day. Boy, oh, boy did I bark up the wrong tree! I tried to teach myself to draw and paint in my early twenties but failed miserably to get anywhere. Idealistic and stupid as I was I lurked sites like conceptart.com and cghub in order to find my way into the industry, but was much too shy and cautions to take any risks which made me despise digital art and most of the famous artists who tried to cash in on people like me at one point. Did I mention that I was stupid? ;) I reflected about my situation and went the other way searching fort traditional art where I discovered all the amazing artists who work or worked in traditional medium like Paul Bonner (who I draw the most inspiration from), James Gurney, James Bama, Tom Lovell and countless others. Being faced with such amazing art and knowing it would take a bloody life time to come anywhere near these guys I did what every normal person would do and drowned my sorrows in playing video games. I was pretty obsessed with this little unknown game at that time called Metal Slug that nobody ever heard of. As I was shooting martians, pseudo Nazis and insanely huge machines I was blown away (no pun intended) by the amazing graphics which is, to this very day, unmatched by anything in modern gaming in my opinion.
This was the first time (the year was 2011) when I felt the urge to pixel. I searched the internet for every source I could and found PixelJoint where I registered, created the handle Mandrill and got my first piece rejected for it not being pixel art, haha.
AJ: Wow, this is already beyond anything I expected haha. It’s crazy to think in this time when most people are addicted to phones you’d be living without one. You can become a Spiritual Leader or Life Guru but we’ll save that for later haha.
Fast forward to 2018 Mandrill has already won multiple Top Pixel Art of The Month titles, creating top notch Pixel Art.
How would you describe this Journey to becoming this good? Is it mere Hard Work, Copying other artists, your training in Traditional Media?
Mandrill: That's a question I don't have an answer for to be honest. I can't really tell what helped me improving except from pixelling a larger piece at least once a month and uploading it to PJ. I've never really tried to get better per se, but rather focused on understanding and getting a feeling for colour, lighting, texture, aa, form etc. in order to make working on a piece easier and not as time consuming. Lots of studies, especially Paul Bonner's work. (as mentioned above). I basically tried to simplify my workflow which is not that complicated at all. ;)
All I want is to look at a piece I did and get a warm cozy feeling in my gut. :)
I don't use any traditional media at all, but used to scribble with brush pens a lot.
AJ: Do you work Professionally or have developed your own games?
Mandrill: Nope, I've never really done commissions or worked for anybody, let alone developing games. I'm merely a hobbyist. The only things I've done in that regard have been gifts and helping out friends with some icons for their projects.
AJ: What are you other hobbies?
Mandrill: Wow, that's quite hard to answer to be honest. What have interest in many things, however, what I would consider as hobbies are more passions to me. I love music from the 50's 60's and 70's, especially all kinds of soul and funk. However, there some really good records from the 80's as well. Not to mention Old-School Hip-Hop like A Tribe Called Quest or The Pharcyde. I have a huge collection of songs that I have gathered over the years. More than 3500 to be exact. I'm working on getting them all on vinyl for my record player and hi-fi system which I love to sit in-front of with a fine drink and listen to the music it plays. As formerly mentioned, I also like video games. Mostly strategy games, simulations, retro, some online shooters as well as role-playing games and Japanese games. I like to play chess from time to time, read about scientific stuff on the internet and love to have 10 mile runs every other day to keep me fit. I'm also a huge film nerd and I love literature with Herman Hesse being my absolute favourite.
AJ: What’s your profession?
Mandrill: I'm studying Geology/Paleontology at the moment which is basically everything every Kid wants to do. Licking stones and digging up dinosaurs. ;) Of course, it's much more than that.
Start simple, learn the rules of old-school pixel art and look at what the pixel artists you like do! But most importantly, don't get discouraged
AJ: What would be your one advice for people who are just starting out in this area?
Mandrill: Start simple, learn the rules of old-school pixel art and look at what the pixel artists you like do! But most importantly, don't get discouraged. Pixel art and artists can be quite elitist sometimes. A good way to get going is to use simple palettes from other artists with a low colour count. Don't try to add colour when you get stuck, rather think about how much of one specific colour an object needs to be recognized as such. Do studies and don't try to get everything perfect from the beginning. We all need time to grow and have to start somewhere.. ;)
AJ: What’s your take on current changes that Pixel Art is going through? HD Pixel Art or with effects that are being introduced in games that are not pixel art and just the competition with High Quality graphics that are more alluring to new generation.
Mandrill: I have to say that I'm a purist when it comes to pixel art. Quite frankly, everything with filters and transparent colours might be pixel art at first glance, but it is more a degradation of what pixel art really tries to be... at least for me. I'm not in the position to impose my opinion of what pixel art should be on people or the medium. But, what I really love about the limitations the purist way brings is the challenge and workarounds you have to face and come up with. I've done so many pieces where I got stuck and could have taken the easy way out by using index methods or filters/transparency layers and yet not doing that and has always been the most enjoyable part. The planning, the line work and cluster placement, the AA, dithering and all these things are the challenges that make pushing pixels fun. And I think this shows in the art. I strongly believe that nearly everybody would choose a properly pixelled pice of art over HD-nonsense any day. I do understand, however, that for devs it is sometimes impossible to put all the work in needed to have purely classic pixel art game. Whatever floats your boat! Personally, I don't like it that much though. ;)