AuthorTopic: Winning at pixel art  (Read 9962 times)

Offline cels

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Winning at pixel art

on: March 24, 2015, 10:45:09 am
I have a question and before I start, I would like to point out that this subject could easily turn into something negative. My main goal is to just share my view and hopefully have other people share their views, without necessarily fighting about who's right. And certainly, I hope to avoid ad hominem insults like "Who are you to talk?" or "Do u even dither, brah?"

With that said, here's the premise:

As a competitive person, I have a tendency to look at everything in terms of winning and losing. Even art. Of course, it's also about the personal journey and the joy of learning, but ultimately I still maintain a competitive mindset. I can see why some artists stay away from DeviantArt and PixelJoint, because there's something insidious and tantalising about counting the number of 'favourites' and comments each time you upload something. If you get a lot of faves, you count it as a victory. If your latest work is ignored, you count it as a defeat. You assign each piece of work a numerical value to indicate its actual value, to measure its success.

Every time I produce something that doesn't get good feedback, it really burns at me. Sometimes, the negative emotion is my primary source of motivation, as I hate the feeling of defeat when something doesn't get the recognition I feel it deserves. To put it mildly, I am very puzzled when I see other artists who keep making art for years and years without any sort of public recognition and no one to compliment them on their progress. In my competitive mindset, I don't understand why they go on. I don't understand what drives them to keep sharing work without getting real recognition, when their work is sometimes ignored completely.

Do any of you guys understand what I'm saying? Do you ever look at other people's art as competition and get annoyed if they get more recognition than you? Or is it as I fear - are you all much more mature, calm and confident than me? Is your artistic mindset unsullied by childish competitiveness?

I'm interested in your honest views. Let it all out.

Offline 32

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #1 on: March 24, 2015, 11:42:29 am
I personally avoid posting my art publicly generally. I only started posting on pixel joint (and soonly, other social media, baby steps :crazy:) this year because I need the exposure to help me find work commercially. Before that I would generally show my work to friends and family when they ask, or post here once in a blue moon if I felt the need. So that is to say personally I've never required much feedback to motivate me, I enjoy doing what I'm doing and if I like looking at something when I'm done usually that's enough.

That said I understand your desire for recognition, certainly I've been a bit disappointed at the reaction (or rather, lack thereof) to a couple of things I've posted. I tend to be of the mindset that everyone else is wrong though :D Because I personally enjoy those works it manifests more as confusion than anger or frustration. Certainly on Pixeljoint in particular there have been times when I have thought my own or other's works have been very under appreciated, I tend to think it's just not a very good system for giving equal exposure to each piece that goes through there. The Pixeljoint community also definitely has it's kinks, dimensions being the big one haha.

So I guess ultimately my view is that it feels nice when a piece gets some recognition but it doesn't really get to me if it doesn't because... I'm a narcissist ???  ;D

Edit: Also in response to reactions to other people's art: I've never felt bad that someone else's work is getting recognition, I love to see what everyone else is doing and what the community responds to. That just drives me to try harder, I think. I suppose I don't see it as a zero sum game. I don't need other people to be doing worse for me to do better.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 11:49:16 am by 32 »

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #2 on: March 24, 2015, 11:58:44 am
Quote
when I see other artists who keep making art for years and years without any sort of public recognition and no one to compliment them on their progress. In my competitive mindset, I don't understand why they go on. I don't understand what drives them to keep sharing work without getting real recognition, when their work is sometimes ignored completely.

Do you create art for others with a highly altruistic view (or for money) on it that you make it for the people (or a client)?
Or are you creating art for yourself as means of expressing yourself?


In the first case:
The man with the money make the rules. If you have a problem with the rules, don't take the money.
THe preferences of the crowd set the preferred style. If you don't want to create that style, don't expect attention.

In the second case:
If you make something truly for yourself, it gets your own recognition. Why should your own recognition be less worth than "people's" recognition?
If you have your own recognition and achievement it should be completely unimportant what everyone else thinks.



Everyone will like or won't like something. If you show your stuff at certain communities, there is always the question who sees it and who likes it.
Maybe the people who would like your stuff aren't even in that community or they are a minority there.
Maybe your stuff just don't gets seen long enough.
What you see a lot usually gets normal and therefore gets liked by a lot more people.

If you want peoples recognition there is an easy formula to stick to:
a) analyze the people in the crowd and take a gaussian distribution of the stuff there and what you see the most
b) analyze the style which is used and do the same
c) analyze what gets the most attention

and now you would only have to create something like that. And guess what - it works.
It works for especially that group of people you targeted.
Industry does it all the time.
YOu might not even notice it.
But If that group of people you target is the group of people you can understand and relate to is another story.

If you hit the preferences of the targeted audience, you will gain popularity in the borders of the target audience, but maybe you have to stick to stuff which isn't truly yours (maybe it's a style, a character, an art direction, colors, a psychological approach or anything which doesn't work for you). The huge problem there is just if your personality has a problem with what is popular in a comm.
You might even have to sell your soul in order to create that stuff.
But who cares, in the big industries most of the stuff is made to be liked.

However If you create your own stuff you will have audience from a much smaller crowd of people.
That smaller crowd will like the stuff equally as much as the bigger crowd which just prefers the other thing.
So the quality of liking is the same, the quantity is different.
Makes a difference for ... making tons of money ... I guess.


On the other hand if you always stick to a formula it can lead to creative stagnation and people just copy copies of another one which got like.
Or you become just someone who runs after trend after trend, without the chance of creating an own trend.
A trend is usually created by a new innovative product, everything which follows up immediately just tries to make a quick buck out of the hyped trend. But That usually has to happen quickly, because trends change at a fast pace.

Look at the game industry and the Triple A titles -> at the core the same problem.
Minecraft -> suddenly sandbox games
Skyrim -> suddenly we had a huge amount of open world games
Sword and Sworcery -> suddenly the majority of indies was creating minimalistic pixels

Look at the movie industry and the Hollywood productions -> at the core the same problem
Look at the music industry and pop music -> at the core the same problem

If you want to be an individual:
Be yourself.
Stay yourself.
Be happy with it.
Give less fucks about others.

2 further examples:
styles and the music industry:
we have a few really popular pop-artists (just look at the name) who create stuff which showcased and advertised everywhere.
Now you should have heard some of those songs, and you should have an idea of the world/content they have in their works.
If the content is in line with what you believe it should work for you.
It works for the majority, and that's why it's popular and sells really good.

But I can tell you there are tons of other styles speaking to a different kind of audience.
I am for example listening to metal.
You neither can compare the lyrics nor the musical style with pop music, it's just different.
While I also don't like everything just because it's labeled as "metal", the overall style direction and lyrics speak to me in an average just much more than what pop does.
I haven't found any pop artist so far who would have gotten my recognition over a longer period of time, just because that stuff usually doesn't work for me or speak to me on a deeper level of psychology.

The big question:
Should metal artists then stop producing their stuff, just because they don't have as much recognition as the pop artists?

I honestly don't think so because they have their own fan-group which will stick with them. And that's just because they can communicate on a much more similar or even the same level.

In the best case if you create the stuff which is truly yours and you have people supporting your stuff in a way that you can proceed making it, why shouldn't you just go on and don't care what other people think about it?

another parallel example (which easily could be misunderstood, hiding it here)
sexuality.

Do you think that someone who isn't straight should get straight?
Just to get liked by the majority of people and to have a bigger target group for finding a partner?
I guess we all know that this won't work and that very few people even want to cheat nowadays regarding their sexuality (unless they are in a popular position)
Everyone who isn't straight is part of a minority, nonetheless it's an existing phenomen that the minority exists and keeps existing.
If you exchange "sexuality" with "style" you have at the core exactly the parallel problem.

« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 12:11:42 pm by Cyangmou »
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Offline Friend

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #3 on: March 24, 2015, 12:17:18 pm
if youre doing it primarily for the likes, then are you really winning or losing? 

Everyone has a need to feel validated, and when it comes to art, this need can be sensitized because it is a body of deeper personal expression.

I feel if I have created my own masterpiece and have expressed myself purely, I don't care if it is one of those works one views for 1 second then walks away.  On some level, just that it is out there, it has changed the world...maybe it has shifted a grain of sand, maybe a secret mountain...But I know a grain of sand shifts another shifts another grain, and mountains shift continents, so..  ???

Offline Alex Sinigaglia

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #4 on: March 24, 2015, 12:20:25 pm
When I publish something in dA or here or anywhere, it's to keep track of my progress, to see if I have improved or I got worse.
Sharing with people is also one of the reasons I do and with that I expect feedback, but if I don't receive it then I ask for it so that I can get better.
And if I don't receive it after that, that's ok, I guess... it's not a problem.

If others' work gets recognition, I'm happy for them. But! It must be good for my eyes, otherwise I get upset and try to make it better. It's not the case here in this forum (I don't count my edits here, which are made to help people and are part of my feedback), but in another forum I'm registered in.
There's this guy who is "known" to convert stuff from a certain style to CvS (it stands for Capcom vs SNK 1/2, the videogame crossover/s). What I mean by converting is "re-sprite a sprite from one style to another"; but his "convertions" (as he calls them, I know the word is 'conversions') don't follow the CvS style (wrong lightsource, wrong shading), however most people consider his style the right one. So I think: "are they blind or something?" and start converting a sprite myself to show that "that's how you do it", together with some criticism.

If you see, there's a little silent competition between myself and the "blind" people who praise a "spriter" (I'll call him 're-shader' next time) that re-shades a full set of sprites in little time... and this is also another thing that irks me: you put so little time into converting stuff, so it's obvious your stuff is not perfect... but this 're-shader' doesn't care and so the others.  >:( And giving feedback to him is mostly useless because, although he starts following it in the first moments, he then proceeds to make the same identical mistakes. But I'm digressing, this is not the topic about feedback.

So, if you read the spoiler, what I want to tell you (even if I went off-topic in the last phrases) is that competition is not necessarily a bad, childish thing but it can give you an idea of what to do.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 12:23:32 pm by Alex Sinigaglia »

Offline Ai

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #5 on: March 24, 2015, 12:40:48 pm
I have a question and before I start, I would like to point out that this subject could easily turn into something negative. My main goal is to just share my view and hopefully have other people share their views, without necessarily fighting about who's right. And certainly, I hope to avoid ad hominem insults like "Who are you to talk?" or "Do u even dither, brah?"
Topic is "Winning at pixel art"... Where is the Charlie Sheen reference ? ;)

Quote
Every time I produce something that doesn't get good feedback, it really burns at me. Sometimes, the negative emotion is my primary source of motivation, as I hate the feeling of defeat when something doesn't get the recognition I feel it deserves. To put it mildly, I am very puzzled when I see other artists who keep making art for years and years without any sort of public recognition and no one to compliment them on their progress. In my competitive mindset, I don't understand why they go on. I don't understand what drives them to keep sharing work without getting real recognition, when their work is sometimes ignored completely.

I would observe, for a start, that everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- likes their 'numbers to go up' -- there is some common human psychology that amounts to, as soon as you quantified X, more X is better (unless X is bad in which case less X is better). But not everyone's numbers come primarily from external validation.

Validation is actually a rather complex subject; without going too far into it, you can get validation out of virtually everything, including eg. rejection, disapproval., etc.

(think of the mindset 'they simply don't understand things on the level I do'. This is almost certainly wrong and immature, but I mention it as an example of a mental narrative that can lead to feeling grimly validated by surprising things like rejection and disapproval.)

I haven't really come up with a good solution for such things. It's tough.

Some artists would tell you, quite seriously, that their art is a journey of self-exploration. My appreciation of the meaning of that is not great, but I can see how it would lead to a great ability to persist regardless of external feedback.

In specific response to
Quote
Every time I produce something that doesn't get good feedback, it really burns at me. Sometimes, the negative emotion is my primary source of motivation, as I hate the feeling of defeat when something doesn't get the recognition I feel it deserves.
I have fits of this. I generally stave it off by reminding myself of "The War of Art" -- specifically "How to be miserable.". Small quote:

Quote
The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be
dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection,
self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.

The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to
be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take
pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or
jet jockey.

IOW you've gotta learn to love that feeling of defeat, because it is the feeling of progress. If you're feeling great about your work, you have probably previously progressed and have now hit a plateau.

Quote
Do any of you guys understand what I'm saying? Do you ever look at other people's art as competition and get annoyed if they get more recognition than you? Or is it as I fear - are you all much more mature, calm and confident than me?
I'd suggest strongly that being more mature means a person is better at ignoring those feelings, rather than not having them. They notice them but assign them low priority.

I feel annoyed when art I consider poor gets attention ahead of artwork I've done that I consider good. But I generally just use that to push myself into doing the next artwork.

(in general, I tend to think of competitiveness as 'shitty, antisocial behaviour', so I have a strong aversive reaction to competitive behaviour (that is, one-upmanship) in myself. No offense intended, it's purely supposed to give context for where I'm coming from here.)

Quote
Is your artistic mindset unsullied by childish competitiveness?
Hell no. I want to be the best. But I want to be the best on my own terms, not others'. IOW I'm competing against myself, that's the mindset I cultivate. Other people's art doesn't .. get points, it's on a different scale?
Hard to express, but my art gets points because I have enough context to, in theory, judge it accurately. Other people's art gets different types of points because my appreciation of it is so superficial in comparison.

Or in other words, there are not 'people who are simply better than me at lineart' -- there is a hidden parameter there. With the hidden parameter properly shown, there are 'people who are simply better than me at lineart -by my standards of lineart-'.

There are also 'people who are better than me at getting desirable attention for their art, by my standards of desirable attention'. Those people frustrate me, I will admit. I'm not sure whether I feel competitive about it, I have rather variable feelings about it (that match the love-hate relationship I have with 'attention' ;)



.. well, I hope some of that is coherent rather than superficially-deep-sounding philosophizing ;)

Comments on posts others have made while I was writing this:

Cyangmou: I stand behind Cyangmou's post. All of it. Extremely on-point and insightful.

32:  Strongly agree with
Quote
I tend to be of the mindset that everyone else is wrong though :D Because I personally enjoy those works it manifests more as confusion than anger or frustration.
-- if you don't appreciate my art, that means our psychologies differ sufficiently. Which is pretty much a confusing fact that I have to accept to deal with people. Cyangmou's sexuality analogy is relevant here -- I don't really understand the psychological state 'being not bisexual' in other than a clinical sense, but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with my sexuality or others, just that we're different.

While I was writing that, it occurred to me that my approach to art is very similar to programming. I'm making systems that are built on top of existing systems, for the consumption of other systems (commonly known as 'people'). If they don't work, that's my fault (but that is also mainly up to me, not you, to judge). If they don't work for you, maybe you don't understand them or maybe there is something wrong. If you can be clear about what that something is, I can take it on and fix it. If you can't, I try to shrug and move on -- your feedback is too indefinite to be worried about.

( a lot of programming philosophy is very relevant to art imo: YAGNI, release early and often, premature optimization is the root of all evil, explicit is better than implicit..)

Alex: yeah, it's really really hard to get any people at all who give half decent critique on a hugboxy site like DA. Or at all. Critique is hard.

I used to be bothered by incompetent drawers and their fans.. But I have come to view trying to correct such behaviour as irresponsible. People won't be taught until they have resolved to themselves that the way they are doing things is definitely inadequate. Until then, you are just like, poking and saying 'Hey. Hey, stop that'. It feels good / justified on some level, but it's not productive (and it's reducing time you could be using to actually make awesome things)
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 12:47:34 pm by Ai »
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline cels

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #6 on: March 24, 2015, 04:06:57 pm
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Some interesting points here.

@32: Well, I wouldn't necessarily call it narcissism. I think a good artist needs a fair amount of confidence in his or her own artistic vision. Otherwise, you'll just be chasing the lowest common denominator and diluting your ideas and your vision. So I think a certain amount of bias is healthy. When people praise your work, you think "Hell yeah, I'm awesome" and when they don't like your work, you think "Well, they don't know what they're talking about". And I think you have to live with that sort of healthy bias. And the same is true for sport. You'll often see athletes who make excuses when they have a bad performance, but I think that's often a healthy bias you need in order to believe in yourself. "This wasn't my day, but I am actually the best in the world. You'll see."

@Cyangmou: I suppose I need to reflect more on how much my art is aimed at others vs what I personally think is cool. But do you personally have the same view you're advocating? Do you give zero fucks about others, without counting your number of 'favourites' or admiring your trophies on Pixeljoint or DeviantArt or whatever other scenes you may frequent? I see you working very hard at your craft, but is it only for your own satisfaction when you're working on non-commercial art?

In regards to chasing popularity, pixel art has a very specific audience, like certain types of metal (e.g. trash metal). Not everyone will get it. But even within that demographic of people who appreciate pixel art, you can still chase recognition. Whether you want to be the most famous pixel artist in the world, or the most famous C64 pixel artist in the world or the most famous pixel artist when it comes to HD isometric art, or whatever else. Whatever your niche, it's still possible to have that competitive mindset, where you want to be better than others, where you compare yourself to your peers.

@Friend: That's an interesting point. I suppose I'm not pixelling to have any impact on the world at all. Not consciously, anyway. I mean, I try to help others with their art by providing feedback and being supportive. And I like to support the pixel art community and keep the art alive by publishing my stuff on the web, just in terms of being active and doing my bit. But I guess I never really think about whether my art itself is influencing others. It's more about expression and trying to visualize my dreams. Your point makes me think about what pixel art has influenced me and what kind of influence it has had. I'm not sure.

@Alex: Thanks for sharing, that's the kind of stuff I was talking about in the OP. I often detect the same attitude in other artforms, such as comedy or films, as some artists seem to be on a quest to compete with people they feel have the wrong attitude or are getting praise they don't deserve.

@Ai: Charlie Sheen was too obvious  ;D

Great quote. As for competitiveness being shitty and anti-social behavior, it's a very tricky subject for me. Coming from sports, I think competitiveness is absolutely vital to certain activities. There's a great Confucius quote about competition. He says "Gentlemen do not compete. You may say that in archery they do so, but before climbing the stairs to the archery hall, they bow and defer to each other". I read this quote as saying "A good person does not try to compete with others in doing good deeds. In activities such as archery however,  it is alright to be competitive, as long as you maintain the mindset of a good person and don't lose focus of what is important. (i.e. benevolence)"

Offline wzl

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #7 on: March 24, 2015, 06:30:27 pm
Lost of good things said already. One thing i want to add though:

Do you think there is a best of a kind in art? Can you really say one piece is objectively better than another one? More precise strokes? Photorealistic rendering vs abstract color choices? Which is more art?

Eventually it lies in the eye of the beholder. Like cyangmou already mentioned, its a point of demography. What kind of audience do you want to cater to? Pop culture? Realism? Chibi/Japanese style drawings? Abstract horror?
Or do you want to create your own demography by not abiding by any particular known style or direction?

I totally understand the desire of recognition, and the crushing feeling of someone being acknowledged by doing something inferior.
It is a question of who do you want to be acknowledge by? People who thumb up crudely drawn figures catering to a specific group of people, or people who understand art on a more, lets say deeper level.

Personally i prefer posting my art here. I don't get any badges, thumbs, awards or shinies for it, but in return i get something more valuable. Opinions and feedback on my art that will help me become a better artist.

If you want to put yourself out there as much as you can to become a reknown artist, do so. Not only pixeljoint and DA, but every place you feel fits your demography.

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #8 on: March 24, 2015, 06:41:32 pm
@Cyangmou: I suppose I need to reflect more on how much my art is aimed at others vs what I personally think is cool. But do you personally have the same view you're advocating? Do you give zero fucks about others, without counting your number of 'favourites' or admiring your trophies on Pixeljoint or DeviantArt or whatever other scenes you may frequent?

Sure, I do have the view I am advocating.
I can't give zero fucks about others, but as I said you should give "less" fucks.
Giving less fucks simply results in yourself being happier and only if you are happy you can work on.
Everybody has motivation and depression phases (not talking about the "depression" illness here, rather of a sinus of moods) - but generally speaking if you are happy the moivation phases last longer than the depression phases which also results in being more productive.

If things others say, do or don't do makes you feel worse, you either have to give more fucks about those things or you have to change your policy of showing stuff.

Pixel art is the completely wrong artstyle to start with if you want to have wide admiration and if you want to be a well-known and great pop-artist. If you want to have popularity, either go with fantasy concept/landscape painting or anime painting - those are the 2 artstyles in this age, which will bring you fame, if you pull them off on a masters level.
Pixel art rather is a new, unconventional and very poorly examined artstyle and therefore it can't be as popular as stuff which has been developed over a far greater amount of time.
Plus pixel art is directly tied to games and nowadays to the indie scene. On a world's scale games aren't yet even considered as art by the majority of the audience. Games are quite a new medium, and therefore game art is also not seen as true art by most of the audience playing games.
That gives pixel game art even a much harder standing.

I see you working very hard at your craft, but is it only for your own satisfaction when you're working on non-commercial art?
I am working in order to achieve my personal goals. Pro-work for indie developers always means that a few sacrifices to the ideals have to be made - I have to live with that as much as every developer has to live with it.
100% original work from me is 100% in line with me. There is a clear difference in terms of the underlying ideas, but not that much of a difference in terms of the craft aspect.

The best help I ever got on the topic you brought up came in form of a book by Ayn Rand, called "The Fountainhead". Maybe you should just read that one, at least I'd recommend it to you.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 06:45:35 pm by Cyangmou »
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Offline jengy

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #9 on: March 24, 2015, 07:17:56 pm
A short personal story: cell, I totally know that feels, and I have some thoughts about my own experience with black and white thinking.

I'm gunna start talking about it from my own point of view so don't feel like I'm trying to implicate who you are cell; these are just my thoughts, and all "yous" are hypothetical, me-based ones. :)

What you should know that what you experience is common, but that feeling of winning or losing is not helpful or necessary and you can get rid of it with time, practice, and mental exercise.

While seeing things in black and white terms can be useful in terms of motivation for propelling one forward, it creates a over-simplification mechanism that can be poisonous to thinking, and make you afraid to fail and experiment with many aspects in life, and limit your mental flexibility.

I have been an artist all my life and I've suffered from depression since age 11.

I wouldn't be depressed all the time, but more often than not my negative thoughts and events of failure or embarrassment would propel me into depression every so often. Equally, successes would put me into a manic state and I'd be riding on a cloud. I was a sore loser, and a bad winner.

When I was 25, I was listening to a radio show that featured my favorite comedian, Louis CK.
During the show, he mentioned that he was suffering from problems and sought help through therapy because he was struggling to figure out some issues we was experiencing in his marriage. If a rational-minded, thoroughly respectable person I looked up did it, then maybe I could?
There was a loss of shame when I learned that someone I thought of highly took up therapy for a while and I decided to look into it.

I also had the love and support of PixelPiledriver in my times of need to be there for me time after time, so I was also incredibly lucky there. Pixel was always incredibly patient and understanding during my lows and gave me so many positive affirmations and justice to my self confidence. But I wanted to start standing up on my own feet and going into counselling sessions on my own. He'd been there for me, but I needed to start relying on my own effort to get where I wanted to be mentally.

If you overwork yourself to be better based on either fail or lose, while you may excel your artistic journey forward, you often are leaving important cognitive and skills behind, and not addressing the defects with them. On a morale/quality of life level, you're also fucking yourself.

Black and white/winning losing thinking isn't sustainable and you can find so much pleasure in the process as well as the final product. Why trash 90% of the journey?

My advice is to look into CBT, a soft-core form of therapy that addresses thinking errors and can help you get over your polarizing thoughts. CBT for Dummies is great, and cheaper than having to see a counselor if one isn't available to you. The most important thing though is that you realize though your thoughts are perfectly OK to have, and know there are less painful and more healthy alternatives.

Best of luck and hugs all around.
Anyone can feel free to message me privately if they need any more references for therapy or behavioral health. :)

Offline cels

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #10 on: March 24, 2015, 08:42:32 pm
Sure, I do have the view I am advocating.
I can't give zero fucks about others, but as I said you should give "less" fucks.
Giving less fucks simply results in yourself being happier and only if you are happy you can work on.
Hah, I love that you make the distinction and start a discussion of semantics about 'zero fuck's vs 'less fucks', like we're discussing different schools of thought in ancient chinese philosophy. "I am CELS, Apprentice of the Zero Fucks Given".

Sorry, I just found it mildly amusing. No disrespect. And I do get what you mean :)

The best help I ever got on the topic you brought up came in form of a book by Ayn Rand, called "The Fountainhead". Maybe you should just read that one, at least I'd recommend it to you.
Reading Ayn Rand is a bit of an uphill struggle for me. She seems to advocate the polar opposite of what I believe, and while it is important to read books that conflict with and challenge your views, it's a bit more effort. I read Anthem, which I really liked. I read half of Atlas Shrugged, which I found interesting, though a bit heavy handed. Ultimately I gave up on that book when the main character...
... suddenly discovered a forgotten car engine which didn't run on fuel, or something to that effect. Just out of nowhere, they discover the greatest invention in the history of Mankind in an abandoned factory. A classroom example of 'deus ex machina', an inconceivably unlikely discovery just for the sake of moving the plot along.
Anyway, I have a bad habit of giving up halfway through on books. So I guess I'll have to finish that one, and then check out the famous Fountainhead.

And then finish War & Peace and the Brothers Karamazov, hopefully collecting some massive street cred some day in the future.

Isn't the Fountainhead pretty similar to Atlas Shrugged though, when it comes to the general message and moral of the story?

Black and white/winning losing thinking isn't sustainable and you can find so much pleasure in the process as well as the final product. Why trash 90% of the journey?
This part really spoke to me, and is probably something that I need to consider. Pixel art is often a race to the finish line for me, as I'm just so eager to get to the final product. I need a bit more Zen, I think.

Thanks a lot for sharing your story!  Very insightful. And for the record, Louis CK is the man. Definitely my favourite comedian as well. As an artist, one of the most inspiring things about him is the story of how he failed for years and years and then found the bravery to just throw all his old material away and start fresh. That takes a lot of courage. Desperation too, sure. But a lot of courage. :)

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #11 on: March 24, 2015, 09:11:36 pm
Atlas shrugged didn't really work for me either. Some parts were ok to me.
I also wouldn't recommend that book, except if one is looking for satirical entertainment.

Imo the Fountainhead has much better characters which you can understand and relate to a lot easier.
It's also more about understanding, than about pegging characters as something, which atlas shrugged does a lot.
I don't think it's necessary to agree with the autor, but it gives worthwhile perspectives to explore.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 09:18:27 pm by Cyangmou »
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Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #12 on: March 24, 2015, 10:00:39 pm
Deep shit.
It's a good step to want to talk about this sort of stuff with others.

Competition
------------------------
I LOVE competition.
But I don't think I'd call myself competitive.
It's a completely natural feeling to want to play, win, lose, compare, break down, style, progress, experiment, etc.
Instead of ignoring or accepting your emotions, learn to redirect them into something productive.

Find multiple ways to blow off competitive steam.

Play games.
Video and physical.
Try new ones.
Last year I learned Pool and Tekken Tag 2.
This year I learned Racquetball and MTG.
Next year I'll learn ________.

Find people you can turn into competitive friends.
Challenge them over and over and over. ---> at games, art, whatever
Overtime you'll find that you aren't really competing with each other.
Wins and losses won't matter.
You're just doing something together that you both like, getting better at it, bouncing ideas back and forth, etc.
But still having the underlying feeling and satisfaction of competition.

Once you have a lot of practice with that, going out and competing with random people is stress free and fun.

Winning and Losing
------------------------
There's definitely  something to be said about being:
- REALLY happy to win.
- REALLY not happy to lose.

This is a symptom of being extremely focused on the result of each game.
Rather than the exhilaration of play and accumulated experience.

Winning feels great.
But losing doesn't suck at all actually.
It's good for you.

Learn to open up a dialog no matter what side you end up on.

If you win:
Explain the thoughts you had at each step, or critical steps, of the game to the loser.
Think about how to play differently or re iterate on the same strategy you used for next time.
Point out strengths and weaknesses of each player and the plays they made.
Ask them why they lost.

If you lose:
Explain the thoughts you had at each step, or critical steps, of the game to the winner.
Think about how to play differently or re iterate on the same strategy you used for next time.
Point out strengths and weaknesses of each player and the plays they made.
Ask them why they won.

Career
------------
It's definitely a competition to grab up jobs.
Make money.
Be on a cool project.
Excite people with your art.
Sell a lot of copies.

Multiple people compete for a single position.
And even within a team, members continue to compete with each other.

Some of it is good competition.
Some of it is bad competition.
But pretty much all of it is healthy.

Exercise
---------------
Take a walk.
Join a gym.
Do basic yoga.
Practice a sport alone.

Learn the quiet, peace, and challenges of isolation.
It will make you appreciate the time you spend interacting with others much more.

Attempt to balance the rest of your life.
And then it will be easier to place importance on each part of it.

Art
----------------------------
Exactly what jengy touched on.
Learn to love the process.
Get your kicks out of every line, stroke, color, tool, frame, etc.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Joe

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #13 on: March 24, 2015, 10:22:32 pm
External motivation vs. internal. The people who go years without public recognition are either working towards a completely different goal, or are much more realistic in their patience. There are so many good ideas, so much impressive art being shared nowadays that it's going to take a very long time before any one person can break out and distinguish themselves.

It's a choice to make recognition matter to you. Recognition feels good to everyone; it's human to want to be appreciated. But making that the core motivator... I doubt that's a path toward great art, and I question how long such motivation could last. All top achievers in every conceivable field are thinking on a whole different level. It isn't really a competition so much as an endless journey.

Winning implies completion, and I don't see any worthwhile endeavor as something that can be completed. That's a consequence of perfection not existing in reality—you'll never achieve it, so there's room for endless improvement—bound only by lifespan. Each piece you complete isn't a 'win' or 'loss,' it's a step—forward or backward—on an endless journey.

You can't realistically compete with anyone... this isn't a game. Everyone is at different levels, and there's so many subskills... at a certain level it gets hard to say who is better than whom. To me it's more like, all the artists I admire: what are their philosophies, how can I integrate them into my own? To further my own art. Best case scenario we both have something to learn from each other. It's an honor to further someone else's art.

Offline Probo

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #14 on: March 24, 2015, 11:48:09 pm
Youve got to try and wean yourself off the kudos addiction to get a healthier attitude towards 'winning'. kudos should be a occasional by-product of an endeavour, not the main goal.

Offline Ai

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #15 on: March 25, 2015, 03:44:21 am
Great quote. As for competitiveness being shitty and anti-social behavior, it's a very tricky subject for me. Coming from sports, I think competitiveness is absolutely vital to certain activities. There's a great Confucius quote about competition. He says "Gentlemen do not compete. You may say that in archery they do so, but before climbing the stairs to the archery hall, they bow and defer to each other". I read this quote as saying "A good person does not try to compete with others in doing good deeds. In activities such as archery however,  it is alright to be competitive, as long as you maintain the mindset of a good person and don't lose focus of what is important. (i.e. benevolence)"

I think I can agree. It needs more unpacking... Like, competing with others can definitely inspire people to achieve more. But if you start thinking 'I have to win', your behaviour will probably go downhill. It's more healthy to say 'I have to improve', and in that regard it is better to always find someone who is better than you, so you can go 'getting closer.. closer...' . Once you actually get to the -top-, it seems pretty clearly depicted by history that the next step is to fall apart / go downhill (because your motivation has gotten lost, there is no-one to inspire improvement in you.)

@ PPD: Everything you say about competition I'll stand behind. Like I mention above, there are those obsessed with winning, though, and I think it's best to keep them out of any competitions you're responsible for, for both of your sanity.

Quote
Winning feels great.
But losing doesn't suck at all actually.
It's good for you.
+1

Now if we could just turn it into a haiku :)

@ Joe: great point about patience. Having realistic expectations of yourself -- expecting yourself to work hard towards a clear goal, but being modest in how quickly you expect it to progress -- is a great asset to enable you to steadily progress. It requires a certain detachment from the modern tendency towards racing around everywhere trying to do everything, just not buying into that meme complex.

I also feel like you expressed what I was saying about each artist's work having their own individual quality scale better than I did. Quantifying qualia seems dubious, and then comparing those quantizations seems like it might become entirely disconnected from reality.

@ Probo: I find minimizing internet usage to be helpful there. Apparently kudos-tracking is in the top 3 in terms of time spent on the internet. It wouldn't be inaccurate to categorize that itself as an addiction -- IRL, we cannot accumulate thanks with such a frequency, no matter how focused on helping others we are.

@jengy: That speaks to my own issues -- I'm not competitive so much as perfectionistic, I want to take aim at something and achieve it exactly, which is still a type of black and white thinking. Personally I use CBT regular at a weekly mental health group.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 10:48:47 am by Ai »
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline cels

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #16 on: March 25, 2015, 10:02:17 am
I don't have time to reply now, but I'm really happy with the amount of thought you guys have put into your replies. Much appreciated, truly.

I would just like to clarify though, this thread wasn't intended primarily for people to help me personally and give me personal advice. First and foremost, I  just wanted to invite people to share their own outlook on art in general or pixel art specifically in terms of motivation and competitiveness (or lack thereof). In other words, where are you at, right now?

Of course, I did start this thread to reflect on my own mentality, but I'm also genuinely interested to hear about other pixel artists and learn your views and attitudes.

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #17 on: March 25, 2015, 03:32:40 pm
The game I've been working on turns 6 this month. (Yikes.) Good luck finding any real info about it online. (It includes pixel art which I don't really post anywhere either, so relevant enough to this thread.) My view mostly reflects 32's. I rarely share work, and am more puzzled than disappointed when a piece I really like that I made gets less recognition than one I don't care for as much.

There's a lot of cool stuff I've made that I haven't posted anywhere. Including the best painting I've ever done, any recent paintings, a couple of 240 frame study animations. For me, the piece's life ends when I put down my pen, and not when it stops getting favorites or recognition. So comments (or lack thereof) about a finished thing, don't sway me much. I'm already on the next thing. Something I share things because I'm like, "Other people might enjoy this." But if they don't I generally don't lose a lot of sleep.

Make no mistake, I'd love to be Kim Jung Gi, or whoever my favorite pixel artist is (feels weird to name some, lots post here)... And sometimes seeing "better" art does depress me. (Mainly because now I'm doing more programming than art, and so I'm not even closing the gap.) But I'd honestly be very happy being a skilled artist no one has heard of. The guy you run into at the bar and can bust out beautiful napkin drawings, but doesn't even have a website. In fact, that's where I am now, except not good at all. Most of the drawing I do is in restaurants because they're the only places I can't really work on my game. And hearing about your art from random people in person (or having people trying to pretend they're not watching you draw) is a different more intimate feeling than randomguy999 saying, "Cool." Even still comments are rare, and it's not why do it. I try to progress in art to satisfy me, and how much recognition I have gotten for a piece changes nothing about how I feel on my own progress.

I'd say I'm not trying to "beat" people, but I'm certainly trying to reach them. But only in what I perceive as their skill, and not their recognition.

Before I'm called on it by the Illuminati in the know  ;), my game as a full package is a little different. I do very much want that to successful, but that's more a function of how much of my life I've spent on it. If it totally bombs, in that case I may not really make another one. But I'll still think it's a good game. Just that... yo... 6 years and counting. A lot of paintings/animation/pixel art could have gotten made, and that's simply a more satisfying process than programming. So programming's the thing I need something back for the time I spent.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 03:34:20 pm by Kasumi »
I make actual NES games. Thus, I'm the unofficial forum dealer of too much information about the NES

Offline Helm

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #18 on: March 25, 2015, 04:50:21 pm
Personally my internal metric of achievement is not whether people seem to like my artwork but whether I believe I have put out something in the culture that has inspired people or helped them. The distinction seems thin but the way to verify it is to not count gestures like 'upvotes' and 'likes' but instead personal correspondence from strangers that tell you they've been positively impacted by something you've done in a significant way. Every few years I check my life with this metric to see if I'm on a good road, but I don't say that it's a number that always has to increase, just that it has to be at least there. If I've not made anything useful in such a fashion for a long time, then there's something going wrong.

I hop from writing to music to visual arts randomly, but the way I check whether I'm making a positive impact on the outside world is still the same: The private kindness of strangers.

All that said, I don't think there's any merit to try to advise anybody that they should try to be 'more like this' and not like how they are, as I didn't make any conscious choice to be wired this way.

Offline Friend

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #19 on: March 25, 2015, 06:33:14 pm
I hop from writing to music to visual arts randomly, but the way I check whether I'm making a positive impact on the outside world is still the same: The private kindness of strangers.

this is how i think it should be and seems the most natural.  i mean, if we go back a little more than a decade ago before the world of likes and statuses, what else would have inspired an artist to continue, or even to create? money or fame does not inspire what i would consider an artist.  i think this new world has messed up some things, such as skewing how we view self worth based on number of llikes etc. 

i actually wanted to ask Helm and anyone else a question in this post... I also enjoy bouncing between music comp and writing (though I haven't mustered enough energy to become proficient in visual art), and I was wondering if there were any forums for music or writing similar to PJ or pixelation.  I'm talking a niche community.  What I think is so special about pj and pixelation is that everyone pretty much knows each other, so it is much much better for improving and learning.

Offline lachrymose

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #20 on: March 25, 2015, 07:50:30 pm
Takes too much energy worry about whether someone else is better than me.

Unless we are running from a bear. Then I'd be worried as to whether or not they are a better runner than I am.

Offline Helm

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #21 on: March 25, 2015, 08:45:15 pm
I don't know, re: music composition communities, I've never been as public with that as I've been with visual arts and I'm not looking to change that. Music production seems like something where more than one head would help, though.

Offline Probo

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #22 on: March 25, 2015, 09:58:26 pm
All that said, I don't think there's any merit to try to advise anybody that they should try to be 'more like this' and not like how they are, as I didn't make any conscious choice to be wired this way.

One of the great things about humans is our malleability. We can change most of our behaviour, so if a persons behaviour is being detrimental to their own best interests then advice to change is merited i'd say. Also just because you developed a behaviour unconsciously, doesnt mean that you should say 'thats just the way i'm wired' and not try to change, if youre having a problem.

Offline cels

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #23 on: March 25, 2015, 10:13:20 pm
@ PixelPileDriver: "Attempt to balance the rest of your life.
And then it will be easier to place importance on each part of it."

That was really well put. In general, of course, not just in regards to sports, exercise or isolation. And as I asked Cyangmou, do you personally have the same mindset that you're advocating? Also, what do you mean that bad competition can be healthy?

@ Joe: This is something I often wonder about when I see athletes. Now, athletes are different from artists. Most sports are in fact a zero sum game, you can't have multiple winners. Never the less, you can say there is some competition among artists as well, so maybe a comparison can be somewhat useful. Some athletes seem to be driven more by external goals than others. It's almost like they don't enjoy their sport at all, unless they're the best. And while we teach our children that internal motivation is what really drives people to excellence, I'm not sure if that's strictly true.

Now, I only follow one sport, and that's MMA. If you look at the greatest fighters of all time, one name that inevitably is considered as a candidate for the greatest is GSP, Georges St Pierre. He left the sport while he was the champion for several reasons, but one reason was because he was so consumed by the pursuit of excellence that it basically made him unhappy. He wasn't able to relax and appreciate his accomplishments as much as he would have wanted. He trained himself to exhaustion because he was constantly feeling inadequate. But there's no denying that his extreme work ethic helped him be perhaps the greatest fighter of all time. You can say "Perhaps he could have been the greatest of all time even without putting that extreme pressure on himself". And that may be right. But it may also be wrong. Maybe torturing himself was the reason he made it that far.

I'm playing devil's advocate here. I don't intend to torture myself to perfection. I rack disciprine.

@Probo: Oh, kudos isn't my main goal at all. Otherwise I would only be pixelling Super Mario clones, RPG items, and chibi / anime characters, or whatever else gets the most attention in the pixel art community. So I'm definitely trying to pixel the stuff I like and follow my own dreams. But I also have this competitive focus that comes along with it.
How about you? How do you approach pixel art, or art in general, in terms of competition and rewards?

@Friend: Very interesting statistic about "kudos-tracking", if true.

@Kasumi: How can you expect to reach people and hear random people talk about your art, if you don't even publish your best work? And could you tell me what the game is, or PM it to me? :)

@Helm: Do you mean that you look to influence and inspire people in a profound manner? In other words, are you talking about art that carries a certain depth and touches people more deeply than, say, a bunch of 16x16 pixel RPG icons? Or is private kindness just an arbitrary metric you've set for yourself, without any consideration in regards to whether the art is profound or banale? I don't mean to sound critical, I'm just not sure I understand you correctly.

@ Friend:
" if we go back a little more than a decade ago before the world of likes and statuses, what else would have inspired an artist to continue, or even to create? money or fame does not inspire what i would consider an artist.  i think this new world has messed up some things, such as skewing how we view self worth based on number of llikes etc."
I think you have to go back centuries or millennia if you want to remove this element. Technology has made it a lot easier to track and measure, but the principle is older than that. Of course, the pursuit of art in the modern sense of the word isn't something mankind has done forever, perhaps, so it's hard to discuss what is 'natural' and what is 'new'. Even if you read Plato's dialogues, you'll read about famous artists in Ancient Greece. I imagine fame was an important factor, even when it was harder to measure in numbers.

Jerry Seinfeld had some nice jokes about popularity, and the significance of the blinking light on the tape recorder receiving messages from his phone. "It's important for us to be liked by a large group of people we don't really care for", I believe he said. I always found that kind of funny, and true.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 10:20:20 pm by cels »

Offline Kasumi

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #24 on: March 25, 2015, 10:25:22 pm
@cels: Like I said, I draw in restaurants. It's public,  people talk to me about it. That's enough for me. My thinking would likely be similar to Helm's if I did post more.

I wonder if the PM request is a test.  ??? ;) But whatever, sure. Spoiler: It doesn't look like I've been working on it for six years, but there's a reason for that.
I make actual NES games. Thus, I'm the unofficial forum dealer of too much information about the NES

Offline Probo

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #25 on: March 25, 2015, 11:08:32 pm
@Probo: Oh, kudos isn't my main goal at all. Otherwise I would only be pixelling Super Mario clones, RPG items, and chibi / anime characters, or whatever else gets the most attention in the pixel art community. So I'm definitely trying to pixel the stuff I like and follow my own dreams. But I also have this competitive focus that comes along with it.
How about you? How do you approach pixel art, or art in general, in terms of competition and rewards?

maybe not the main goal then, but definitely it shouldn't be such a driving force. Personally i just want to pixel and get better. i want a career making my own games so that maybe gives me a practical attitude. Competition-wise.. you mean like other pixel artists right? when i first started looking at sites like this i found myself jealous of people's skill and deflated about my own. but i trained myself not to feel that way and now its all good! I love seeing other people's art, it gives me inspiration to get better and ideas about whats possible. If i do show someone my art, of course i want them to like it, but its not required. You learn more from your mistakes than your successes. If its met my own barometer for quality in enough areas i will still be somewhat satisfied. although never completely, there's always plenty to improve!

Offline RAV

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #26 on: March 26, 2015, 06:25:42 am
I like that creativity provides identity, not only for yourself but for the group of people you're sharing it with. It gives opportunity to interact with others on a matter that feels more meaningful and intimate. Your thing is your home. You're a host. Sometimes people come over to party. They need it. you need it. At its best it looks like a Demo Party. Crowd goes wild, because that's what everyone's here for. I sometimes also like to imagine an audience, their naive eyes, what they'd feel like, to find excitement in my work.

Offline Helm

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #27 on: March 26, 2015, 07:56:04 am
Quote
@Helm: Do you mean that you look to influence and inspire people in a profound manner? In other words, are you talking about art that carries a certain depth and touches people more deeply than, say, a bunch of 16x16 pixel RPG icons? Or is private kindness just an arbitrary metric you've set for yourself, without any consideration in regards to whether the art is profound or banale? I don't mean to sound critical, I'm just not sure I understand you correctly.

I mean with something more than 16x16 rpg sprites, but perhaps even a huge lot of 16x16 sprites, arranged in a certain manner can be inspiring as well (they call them video - games I think). It's just about doing what you're doing long enough, getting to the core of what it means and trying to communicate it that will get to people I think, aside from subject matter.

Offline RAV

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #28 on: March 26, 2015, 08:16:53 am
But I just must create, as the sun must shine and the wind blows, no matter what. I think about a project in phases. There are many moments I need much alone-time with my work, undisturbed by thoughts about others, or I couldn't do what needs doing. But then there comes the time I need to step back from myself and my work. And so I scrap together the parts of what I've done, and use the mere idea of an audience as a directive pretence to create a milestone. To get it off my chest. to look where I'm at. to set myself a point of orientation. to see if I'm on track. The audience is assumed but not required to this purpose.

Offline Vagrant

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #29 on: March 29, 2015, 11:58:23 pm
I'll begin with the essential core of my perspective in this matter... Time to be brutally honest.

I am selfish. Without equal.

The subdivision to that fact is that the selfishness is concentrated around myself, rather than others. My views, my judgements, my decisions. The things and styles that -I- like. While I recognize that in this world there is an infinite amount of perspectives and views, the only ones that concern me the most are those in a similar vein to mine. Likewise, I support others who do work that is to my taste, for it aligns well to my self- the things -I- prefer. 

To me, winning at pixel art (And everything else) is to focus and perfect the techniques and skills that will allow me to push my preferences towards goals- set upon a background which I perceive, is infinite in potential. Without a limit cap, I can improve and improve, reap the personal satisfaction and admire what there is to have (Including what others create), and be inspired to push my yardsticks yet further.

The recognition I receive from someone I deem to be worthy is worth more than a thousand praises from people I don't care about. But the way I see it is that there are no negatives here; worthy praise just gives more points than average praise. It all adds to me, and feels good.

Troubling myself over things I don't care gets me nowhere however.

Therefore, there's no such thing to me as losing in pixel art. The act of creating yet another piece is a productive win in any case, no matter how ignored it may be. The challenge is to make your wins bigger, both internally for you and externally for others- whichever you value most.

That being said, I love competition, despite it depending on external circumstance. The more the conditions of the competitions align with my own taste, the more love I'll have for it.

Offline NowvaB

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #30 on: March 30, 2015, 08:18:21 pm
* What Vagrant said *
Selfishness? to me that just looks like you described motivation.  :lol:


As for me...

I started Pixel Art so I could create art for the games I planned on making before reality hit me.(making games is hard)
But as someone who loves the classics and can't draw it eventually grew into a hobby and now I can't stop.

Yes, I love competition and No, I don't like losing but that's fine because I usually only compete with friends.

As of now, I make art because I can produce it to the point where it looks attractive and I find joy in being able to produce things I never thought I would be able to. My motivation to make art is "this is gonna look really cool when it's done!". Of course when I would post something online I never felt like it got the recognition it deserved. I was thinking how a improperly scaled JPEG of a stolen drawing of a furry listed under pixel art (I'm looking at you Deviant Art!) could best my amazing interpretation of bla.bla.bla. anyways what I'm saying is that it's a serious mood killer when things like that happen and I feel your pain.

To conclude my rambling I'll say that winning at pixel art to me is getting the recognition you deserve as an equal to the amount of effort you put in. or I guess if your happy with how you are now, that's cool too.
[never really thought about this my thoughts may change.]

Offline astraldata

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #31 on: March 31, 2015, 12:34:58 am
Not really one to chime in on stuff like this since a lot of what I'd have to say has already been said a lot better than how I might put it, but I thought it might be nice to try and talk out how I look at "winning" in pixel art since it's not something I've thought a lot about before -- So here goes:

When I first came to Pixelation way back in the day, I barely even knew how to draw. I saw some of the old pros on here back then and gawked at how awesome their stuff was. Comparing myself to them, I couldn't even begin to imagine how I could /ever/ get from where I was then to where I am now skill-wise. I had no sense of color, no sense of design, composition -- nothing at all -- and I wanted to, somehow, make a game despite all of that, and I wanted its art to look as good as the pros'. Looking back at myself then, and where I am now, I now can say that doing pixel art actually taught me something even more important than how to do pixel art professionally -- it taught me how to approach art.

I wasn't out to one-up anyone (I didn't have the skills back then for that), but I did appreciate a good challenge, and the most challenging thing in pixel art to me at the time (I thought) was animation, so Pixelation's weekly animation challenges were a sure-fire way to improve my skills in pixel art all-around -- or at least teach me that I wasn't cut out for pixel art to begin with so that I could give up early at least. After all, if I couldn't make decent pixel art and animations, I couldn't make a pixel-art-based game.

Thanks to Pixelation though, I got better, and I got better quickly. Most of that progress came from others' who were struggling and posting their art despite their struggling. That's why, as a skilled artist now, I owe a lot to the community for making mistakes and posting them here so that I could learn alongside the original posters, without having to make those same mistakes myself.

I shorted myself a lot of experience by doing so though -- so, fortunately, I made up for that by doing a lot of edits.

When Pixelation disappeared for a while, I really thought it was gone for good, and my opportunity to give back along with it. So, when it came back, I vowed to learn from here onward by helping others (rather than simply lurking), and that has helped me grow a ton more than I thought I could ever grow.

To learn a skill as well as you can learn it -- try teaching it to others! That, imo, is truly winning at that skill -- be it pixel art or otherwise -- and, since every form of art you become skilled at (including music) can inform skills in other forms of art (including visual design), you never go wrong in learning art, despite whether or not your interests may change to another form of art down the road. I started learning pixel art (and art) to make a game -- but, in the end, it taught me everything I needed to know about art in general.

In a lot of ways, it's because of this fact that art is, indeed, about the journey, and not the destination, as I had once assumed.

You won't care about that at first, since all you'll care about is learning tools and techniques to accomplish your goals, but the more techniques you learn, the more in touch you'll be with art itself because you get freer and freer to express yourself when you don't have to think about techniques or their execution anymore, and with that comes the true fun and what makes art so great (and also so miserable to the beginner!)

--------------------------------
 To touch on recognition:
--------------------------------
I know this may sound weird, but I don't need recognition for my art at all -- instead, I am personally out for the satisfaction that I have the requisite artistic skills to make any kind of game/assets/designs I want or need -- entirely on my own -- if I so desire. To be able to do that, I feel I'd have exactly the level of skills I'd be satisfied with. To me, that matters most of all -- way above anyone else's opinion of me or my artwork.

At one point, I definitely used to seek recognition, but I realized that desire most likely arose from showing my family/friends my poorly-drawn pictures as a child, and being rewarded with high praise for them. It boosted my confidence enough to keep me drawing for years, but when I got on the internet, my ego was quickly bruised. There were literally tens of thousands, if not millions, of average people out there who could draw at least a hundred times -- or more -- 'better' than me.

I could either improve -- or give up as an artist -- along with giving up all those years I sunk into it -- and, thanks to that praise I received as a kid, I built up enough years to decide it was still worth it to at least push on through for a while in order to see just how far off I really was.

That being said, when I discovered I could make games with pixel art, I decided I really had a reason to improve my art skills. Like everyone else, I thought pixel art looked easy enough to pick up in a few weeks. I quickly learned just how hard a skill it really was.

Thankfully though, I came across Pixelation. Despite my struggles with pixel art at first, because I've mastered it enough to be very comfortable with it in any context, I've branched out into other areas like Digital Painting and Traditional Animation -- both of which I've always loved and wanted to learn how to do, and with the skills from pixel art, I now feel confident enough to do them. To me, that's truly "winning" at pixel art.

When I master those, I'll really be satisfied with my skill level. I'll truly be able to create any kind of art I'd ever want to make. That kind of artistic freedom, and the prospect of it truly being attainable in one lifetime to someone like me is (to me) exactly the prospect that I was looking for as a child when I first picked up that pencil and started drawing all those years ago. :)
I'm offering free pixel-art mentorship for promising pixel artists. For details, click here.

     http://mugenzero.userboard.net/

Offline cels

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Re: Winning at pixel art

Reply #32 on: April 02, 2015, 01:49:27 pm
Some really great perspectives here. Just want to thank everyone again for posting their views. I'm not looking to start a big discussion, because ultimately attitudes are so personal and I'm not sure if there's a right or wrong. But it's really cool to hear how other people think about these things. Especially experienced artists.