Who are you?
I’m PavaOne, also known as Emanuele Pavarotti, an Italian painter and digital artist living in Berkeley California. In the past I worked as a feature film character animator at Blue Sky Studios and as a visual development artist at Netflix animation.
When did you start making art?
I always liked to draw, but I remember a moment when I started copying some drawings from the ‘Hokuto no Ken’ manga, I was 12 or 13. I was copying these super buffed dudes and trying to understand how it was done: the speed lines for the punches, the cross hatching for the shading, the line work. That, together with other mangas, made me think that drawing is what I wanted to do as a grown up. It was a pretty seminal moment for me!
What inspires your style?
I was a kid in the 80s and I was pretty obsessed with videogames. I feel lucky that I could basically witness the beginning of video game history with 8 bit systems and follow its evolution. My first computer was a second hand Commodore 128 that my parents gifted me for Christmas. I remember that they had to forcibly remove me from it or I would just keep playing. But those pixel that I was staring at for hours every day left a mark in my brain and so what was a technical limitation of the time, eventually became a style.
Manga and anime from the 90s are also a big one. Anime were always very mainstream in Italy, every kid watched them. Manga on the other hand arrived in the mid 90s and were very niche and reading them was like being part of a secret club.
Tell us about your nude pixels series?
When I was working at Blue Sky Studios in NY we had life drawing sessions with a model. I was getting tired of using pencil on paper because I felt like I was doing the same type of drawing over and over again. So one day I grabbed my Surface tablet, and started doing life drawing in pixel art with Aseprite. At first they were quick gesture drawing with very short poses, 2 minutes or 5 minutes. I liked the result and thought it was something worth exploring further so I kept working on the sketches after the session was over. It felt fresh and I liked that it connected something that you usually see in fine art: the nude model with a technique that you usually see in indie or older videogames: pixel art.
A few months later Hic Et Nunc arrived, I decided to mint a Nude Pixel as a test, people loved it and the series was born!
How do you decide what colors to use and your subject matter?
The subject matter is always a nude. I want to keep that connection with life drawing, so often I choose a kind of static pose that a model would do. Sometimes I deviate a bit from that but I want the series to stay cohesive.
Even with this boundaries though I never feel like I have nothing more to say. A nude is a type of subject that can be explored in so many different ways.
As for the colors, since the series has this retro vibe, I started by using the CGA color palette that was used in early PCs, before VGA arrived. It only had 16 colors and the ones that stood out the most were cyan and magenta. When I was a kid my cousin had a PC that was basically a glorified typewriter and all the games were blue and cyan, it was such a weird palette! And so it’s a challenging one to use but I think it’s a kind of limitation that pushes me to be more creative. It also have a bit of a retro futuristic vibe. I don’t always use that palette though, but even when I don’t I always try to keep it limited. The fewer colors, the better.
What’s the hardest challenge when making one of your artworks?
Pixel art is like a puzzle, you only have a few options to describe a face or how the light shades a detail, so sometimes it’s very tricky to find something that works. I keep trying different combinations until I find one that clicks. It takes time! The other challenge is that I always strive to find a good balance between realism and stylization, so I look for a more naturalistic type of rendering in some part of the drawing whereas in others I look for simple graphic shapes and straight lines.
What are your favorite things about pixel art and nudity?
My favorite things about pixel art are the nostalgia and the connection to late 80’s/early 90s games, the less is more approach, and the fact that it forces me not focus on the details: the simplicity of it.
As for nudity I think it’s a subject that naturally always appealed to artists. The anatomy, the different body types, the personality of the model that emerges from the drawing, and also the sexiness! That is something that I really enjoy playing with the Nude Pixels because they can be sexy in a very playful way, and the super low resolution is almost like teasing censorship.
Are there any nude pixel women that stand out?
Let’s see… Nude Pixel 1: the first one with that CGA palette, it’s simple and sexy, with a nice level of stylization.
Nude Pixel 7: I love the pose, I also did a painted version.
Nude Pixel 26: I think this one has the most refined lighting I managed to do so far.
Tell us about your FxHash Genesis work “Cosmic Trip”
Cosmic trip is my first generative project on FxHash. I wanted to do something a little bit more abstract than the Nude Pixels that always have a grounded setup. In Cosmic Trip figures and shapes are floating in space, creating a more free flowing composition. It’s a collaboration with @daik0nbaby. She did all the little animals and some of the flowers and decorative elements, introducing a more fun and light hearted dimension to the project.
Cosmic Trip is inspired by manga covers from the 90s, especially Rumiko Takahashi’s ones but I was also looking at contemporary artists like Aya Takano and Yoshitomo Nara.
The thing I wanted to avoid was the profile picture look of many generative projects were only a face element changes but the layout is always the same. I wanted the composition to be different every time. And it was really surprising to see what was coming out by randomly mixing all the layers. So many unexpected results!
You followed this with “Cosmic Trip 2”. What are some key differences between the two?
With Cosmic Trip 2 I wanted to refine what I learned from the first iteration and just keep going with it. I played with different types of backgrounds and patterns, the transparencies, and added a whole new set of figures.
After finishing Cosmic Trip 2 I picked 5 of my favorites tokens and did 5 different oil paintings. It was really interesting to add this random element to my traditional paintings.
What advice would you have for other artists?
Don’t be afraid of doing something different from what everyone else is doing. Find something that is personal to you and pursue that… dig deep and be brave!
Look at different medias for inspiration, don’t stay stuck in your bubble.
Do something everyday. Even if you only have half an hour or 10 minutes.
Finally I want to share something that art critic Jerry Saltz said recently that stuck with me: ‘Artists, you do know, don’t you, that your mistakes are your style’.
Is there anyone you’d like to shoutout?
I met so many great artists in the Tezos community! Here are some of my favorites in random order:
Yeah, check out my Nude Poly series as well! It’s the 3D low poly sister series of the Nude Pixels. I do a lot of 3D at work and I wanted to incorporate that in my personal work too. So the Nude Polys do that for me. They have a nostalgic element too, because instead of going for a slick ultra detailed kind of sculpt, I’m instead referencing the first era of 3D games, think Final Fantasy 7 or Virtua Fighter or the first Tomb Raider for example. Just like with pixel art, what was a technical limitation becomes a stylistic choice.