Pixel art from a place called home
Known as 'Merrigo', Amanda Haddad comes from Los Angeles, California. She is a graphic and web designer and a pixel artist too. For almost a decade she has been creating her own personal work alongside a handful of indie games.
She draws inspiration from her home and neighbourhood and you can easily fall in love with her beautiful pixel art landscapes and sunsets.
Your first memory of Pixel Art?
Like a lot of us, I grew up playing games on the Sega Saturn and SNES. My older siblings would always show me what they were playing, so as far as a first memory of pixel art: I’d say it’s them telling 5-year-old me how to play Sonic, haha.
When and how did you end up making Pixel Art professionally?
Around 2012 is when I had started posting my work online, and shortly thereafter I started getting approached to work on different projects and other freelance commissions. Currently, I work full time as a graphic designer, so I don’t create pixel art for freelance. The pixel art I create today is mostly for myself, and when I can, I enjoy creating pixel art products for my store.
"I like to try and capture that cozy «I'm finally home» feeling in a lot of what I draw."
How would you describe your Pixel Art style?
I enjoy working in a partially flat, lineless style. Experimenting with colors is what I find is the most important aspect to my process (and the part I love to do the most).
Where does your admiration for landscapes come from?
The city I live in is my primary inspiration for almost all of my works. I enjoy drawing the smaller neighborhoods of Los Angeles, and I feel like the style of homes and powerlines are quite recognizable for those who also grew up where I did. My commute home from work is often in the evening, and the sunsets I see are something I like to pull from for my color palettes. I like to try and capture that cozy “I’m finally home” feeling in a lot of what I draw.
What software/s do you use?
If I’m at my desk I use Adobe Photoshop exclusively. I also use my iPad for a bit of work, and I’ll use Pixaki for that.
You have created backgrounds for Undertale, one of the best indie games of the decade. Tell us about how you ended up working on such an amazing project.
Toby and I are friends! We both worked on projects for MS Paint Adventures, a web comic series. I had created pixel assets for portions of the story that were interactive, and when he started working on his own projects, I lent a hand with the backgrounds and assets whenever he needed it.
"Keeping the palette limited on areas I didn’t want to draw focus to was a learning experience."
Which of your creations was the biggest challenge and can you tell us why?
I would say this piece here. Even though this ended up becoming one of my own favorites, I think this went through so many versions because of the colors alone. It originally started with a very vibrant palette, but it was not capturing the mood I wanted and kept everything looking too busy. Keeping the palette limited on areas I didn’t want to draw focus to was a learning experience.
What are you working on at the moment?
Just personal pieces for now! This past year I became creative director for a design agency, so having time to work on new pixel art for myself or my store is becoming rare. Lots of new pieces are waiting in the wings that I would love to share soon.
You sell products related to your pixel art, how has this experience been?
Quiet fun, actually! Outside of the digital space like games and digital art, printing something as intricate as pixel art on mediums like acrylic has been fun to do. I hope to expand it and try printing on mediums like wood and ceramic. So far I’ve decorated my home with prototypes, haha.
Can you tell us the artist/s that you admire the most? (from any discipline)
I enjoy YORIYUKI’s work very much. The colors and intricacy of each piece is something that I admire quite a bit.
What advice would you give to other artists who are starting in the world of Pixel Art?
Coming from a design background, so much of what I’ve learned in my drawing and color theory classes has helped me in my pixel art. To me, it’s just a medium. Taking time to understand the basics and studying from photo references will help you exponentially in your pixel art.
What’s your favourite pixel art game and why?
I would say Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery because I feel it has had the most impact on my work creatively, even today. I believe I started playing it around the same time I had begun trying pixel art for myself, and I still think it’s had an influence on my color use and composition.
Question made by Joe Williamson: What was your biggest epiphany moment, when something clicked and you suddenly realised an understanding of some aspect of pixel art?
I don’t know if I can pinpoint an exact moment. However, when I go through my older work I can see the little “epiphany moments” on elements I was proud of that I carried over into newer ones. If in one older piece I can see I liked how I handled the clustering or the use of a palette, I can see those same processes repeated in later pieces. These little moments where you feel your skills get just a bit better is fun to look back and see in yourself!
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