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The Nostalgia of Pixel Art

In a previous blog, we discussed the rise of nostalgia in design with the “New Aesthetic Movement.” To expand on this topic, today we are talking about Pixel Art in the design industry!

The term “pixel art" was first published by Adele Goldberg and Robert Flegal of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in 1982. Just like its name, pixel art is a category of design in which images and artwork are created and modified on a pixel level. Unlike digital vector artwork, pixel art attracts the consumer/viewer with its intentionally pixelated aesthetic. The imagery of pixel art comes from 8-bit and 16-bit computers and video game consoles. We can see some examples of pixel art in retro video games and cartoons such as Mario, Pokemon, Sonic, etc. and in today's world, we see Flappy Bird, Undertale, Starbound, etc.

Since the start of digital art, the pixel characteristic has become a symbol for the digital world, and for many, a symbol of their childhood. With the trend of “bringing back our childhood," a lot of digital artists and designers have started to create works in a pixelated format again.

Bitcamp, a project from the ComSci students at the University of Maryland, used the pixel aesthetic to build their website to promote the campaign.

Bitcamp 2019 Website

8-Bit Sai Gon, a Vietnamese artist also applies the pixelated look of retro video games into his/her designs. 8-Bit’s works began trending in the community of young graphic designers in Vietnam with the imagery of daily life items such as street food carts, etc.

8-Bit Sai Gon's artworks

Unlike the up and down of “The New Aesthetic,” the popularity rate of pixel art has been stable since the 1960s and started to become even more popular in 2018. The real question now is whether pixel art is only good for “digital fine art,” or it is also good for “digital design?"

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