Cave of Pixels was founded by Iain Clarke as a website to publish reviews of retro games and movies based on games. Originally called Cave of Monsters (a line from Bubble Bobble), it evolved into Cave of Pixels in 2013 when he started making pixel art, and he then decided to use the site as a showcase for his creations.
Iain first stumbled upon pixel art at a film convention in 2013, where he purchased a small Mario sprite made out of mini beads. He was intrigued as to how they were made, so after a bit of research he decided to make a few sprites for himself. The first sprite he re-created was a duck from Duck Hunt, and he over-melted the beads when he ironed them. This was the first of many mistakes he would make as he started to learn the best techniques to use. This prompted him to put together a “How to” guide on his website, to help out any other budding beaders out there.
Originally designed for childrens’ arts and crafts, Hama (European) and Perler (American) beads are combined to maximise his palette when creating art. The painstaking process of placing each bead on a grid, before ironing them to fuse them together requires patience, attention to detail, creativity, and more patience.
Iain’s gaming inspirations are mostly Nintendo and Sega console games from the 80’s and 90’s, as this was the time of his childhood, when he was really into videogames. He says: “My first console was a Gameboy and I played that thing to death. For pixel art, games up to the SNES/Megadrive era are great. Anything later than that tends to be too detailed, and would come out absolutely huge if you attempted to make bead art out of it, as one pixel = one bead. I started out making simple videogame sprites for my games room wall, but eventually ran out of wallspace. Not wanting to stop, I decided to see if this art would sell at games markets, as I’d received a lot of positive feedback on Instagram and Twitter. Since 2014 I’ve done 4 markets and always get a positive reaction from those who stop by my stall.”
As well as creating sprites and scenes from iconic retro games, he also likes to create detailed pixel interpretations of iconic images and portraits. Just a few of his creations include portraits of Muhammad Ali, Rihanna, Jack Nicholson and Marilyn Monroe but his biggest project so far was a mosaic of John Lennon made of 1x1cm tiles. It stood at about 4 feet high and was on display in a gallery in Birmingham for a while.
Visit Cave of Pixels and see for yourself: www.caveofpixels.com