Who are you?
Trisant, I’m originally from Wales and have been living in London since the mid-1990’s. I’ve been working as a painter and digital artist for decades, sometimes focusing purely on either painting or digital work, at other times working with both. For me, it all feeds into the other. Painting has always been created through the lens of someone growing up playing computer games and later on, developing them.
How long have you been making art for?
I started creating digital art when I was around 13 years old. Using an 1980’s 8-bit ZX Spectrum home computer, where I’d input simple games in BASIC from magazines and adapt the graphics. There was a matrix of 8×8 pixel blocks where you could use 2 out of a selection of 8 colors for each block. These technical constraints had a big impact on my approach to color and structure in my later physical paintings and digital work. I went to Art School and focused on painting. Enjoying the physicality and directness of the process.
In 1995 I developed an interest in 3D computer graphics and soon started working in Games Development. First in Cambridge, then London working in-house at Sony Computer Entertainment on Playstation-1 titles. It was great to work in collaboration with programmers, games-designers, musicians, and talented artists. At the time, games teams were small compared to today. There was scope to work on various parts of a project, such as games design, in-game creation, graphic design, and prototyping. During this period, I would continue painting at my studio when I had the time.
I experimented with 2D & 3D around 2002. For most of this period I was creating complex 3D digital work for games, but my own digital art became increasingly minimal: pixelated 3 color-palettes, animation that was so simple it took on a comic quality. ‘2 Minute Walk’ (2004) was an abstract landscape of 3 colors, which also pointed to side-scrolling shooter games of the 1980’s.
Later on, I developed a parallel series of digital work using 3D that took its reference from Still Life painting tradition, advertising product display and consumerism. They were like products with branding and utility removed.
What have been some of your greatest personal artistic achievements?
I’ve had a painting in Sotheby’s next to a Picasso. That felt good. Mainly though, in terms of achievement, it’s just been persistence. It’s very difficult to convey how isolated it felt making digital work back in 2000. Most art curators didn’t know what to do with it. It was impractical to sell. It made no sense to games developers. When I started creating digital art, I assumed it would just languish on the computer with no audience. Fortunately, I did have artists and curators who took an interest in the work. I started exhibiting mainly in London, with ‘Two Minute Walk’, Deptford (2005); ‘Uranium Mine’, 10th Planet (2006); ‘Loop’, ‘Red Scroll’ at Intervention (2007) and ‘Scroll’, Reconstructing the Old House (2009).
What do you love about pixel art?
Taking digital Art back to its basic underlying structure: colored blocks in grid formation. I like the cross-over between Modernist painting – Geometric Artists such as Malevich, Albers, Frank Stella – and the digital image.
How did you hear about 8bidou?
Soon after hearing about HicEtNunc as a platform, I was involved in the SMOL group set up by Avery Famous in 2021. It featured images/animations 10×10 pixels or less. We put stuff out on OpenSea as Le Smol Shoppe, created up by EmpressTrash. I found out about 8bidou through pixel talk on Twitter and checked it out. My low-res work on HEN is almost impossible to see among larger work and OpenSea blurs small images, so 8bidou’s clean display and rigid format appealed to me.
“INTERLOCK” (1994-1997) was a series of paintings you did based off a restrictive digital palette that then became a series on 8bidou. Tell us a little more about the original and 8bidou series.
Most of my low-res work are GIF animations, but I saw 8bidou as an opportunity to release 8×8 images that link to early paintings. I never thought I’d bridge work made in the 1990’s, but then again, you can fold time when you’re an artist!
The original paintings were influenced by geometric painting, also the flat plane of locking shapes in Tetris and early 3D vector graphics, particularly the game Star Wars, where you advanced down a trench and avoid obstacles. It was acknowledging a flat surface, while simultaneously carving out a layered space with a limited structure. I was from the first generation of artists who grew up with computer games and digital culture. This fed into my way of seeing the world, even painting. The trouble was many of these references weren’t really picked up at the time. Generally, the Art World was slow to grasp the significance of digital culture.
I started designing these paintings on computer using Aldus Freehand (an early alternative to Illustrator). These designs and Pantone color notes would then be used to create my paintings in a methodical approach using acrylic paint and masking tape.
You have some 8bidou works based off your pixelblock paintings and pixelblock animations. Do any of these works stand out to you and you’d like to explain more about it?
Around 2010 my paintings and digital work was closely linked. The digital led the paintings. I used painting enamel- often used on signage, fairground panels and custom-car painting. I used it in a way that was more organic and imperfect than using masking tape. It was like skewed pixels with rounded corners. There is a tradition of monochrome painting, for example the Blue paintings by Yves Klein. I created ‘Power-Up #1’ (2010) as a GIF animation of one color, with base resolution starting at 1 x 1. A key influence was the ‘pick-ups’ and ‘power-ups’ of computer games, often using fast cycling color to attract attention. My ‘Power-Up’ animations carry a strobe warning, they’re not easy to look at. Each one varies in terms of color order and frequency.
‘Block Anim: Left to Right #01’ (2011) is a black & white GIF anim reduced to a 3 x 3 format. It’s pared down to the simplest level where a pixel can be a character, bullet, apple, water drop… or simply a pixel. It references the first computer game I played in 1977 (Pong. Atari, 1972). Basic timing gives weight, gravity, comic effect, nausea, or plain monotony.
Recently you’ve released a series titled “ET” which references the old Atari game. Tell us more about it.
I created a series of paintings that were 2-color blocks. ‘ET’ was a small painting in the series. They would start as abstract shapes and I would give them titles as the process developed. Many were like tunnels, maps from early Roguelike games. The painting didn’t start with ET – just 2 rectangles – it ended with ET: a reference to a pixelated character from a game of a film. The recent 8bidou series is almost an exercise in ‘what if…’, what if I’d had 128 panels and the time to paint 128 color variations. It’s great to see the variety that springs from a fixed form with 2 colors chosen from a 16-color palette. It’s also my take on a VERY basic PFP.
What have you thought of the Tezos art ecosystem?
Amazing. I challenge anyone not to get excited be the sheer level of creativity. It makes the traditional Art World feel like it moves at a glacial pace. It’s great to see talent from all over the World, there’s variety but you see the connections too. It’s a positive thing which shouldn’t be undervalued or underestimated.
What advice do you have for struggling artists
Be adaptive, open to new possibilities. Believe in what you do.
What do you have planned to come in the future
Carry on with my fxHash generative 3D projects ‘Unswept Floor’. 2D generative work. Lots more.
What is your favorite canvas size to work with?
120 x 120 cm
Is there anyone you want to shoutout?
Keep up the great work supporting and writing about artists