Pixel Art (Middlesbrough, ZX8bit, 2020 onward)

As someone who owned both a NES (that’s Nintendo Entertainment System, not North East Statues) and Commodore 64 during my youth, I have a deep-seated, nostalgic love of pixel art. So when images from my childhood began to pop up on walls around Middlesbrough (although you can also see some in Marske and Guisborough), I had to catch up with the culprit: the mysterious Zed from ZX8bit. Here’s what s/he had to say:

How did you get started and why pixel art?

I started painting on the streets around September 2020. I had always been a big fan of the old video games and had for many years hand-drawn pixel art. I then arrived at the thought that I’d never seen these pixelated images painting in public as street art, and knew it would be quite striking and different given the juxtaposition of the digital image and a real world environment. I calculated how best to approach doing this and then practiced spraying characters for months on my garage walls before eventually taking to the streets of Middlesbrough. The first being a fairly simple ‘Boo’ ghost from the Mario games.

How do you choose your locations? Your subjects?

I chose locations carefully, it’s matter of deciding upon an image and then waiting to find a suitable wall, or alternatively finding a wall and then thinking which character would best suit that surrounding. 

Given that what you’re doing is not strictly legal, have you had any bother or run-ins with the authorities?

Yes! I’ve had some strange encounters whilst out painting. You meet some strange and interesting people when out in Middlesbrough during the early hours of the morning. Not all pleasant run-ins I have to say but nothing too threatening so far. As for the police, I’ve been arrested a couple of times but that comes with the territory. I’m not the biggest fan of authority but again, I’ve met fair cops and some right knob heads.

Do you get commissions? 

Yeah, I get a fair few commissions. Video game bars mostly.

What are you working on next?

I have many things I’m working on, currently planning a really big Mario piece that I’ve found a perfect location for and I think it will be really quite impressive. 

Thanks to ZX8bit – whoever they may be – for the interview and images. Let us know if you find any we’ve missed! You can find their work here and DM them for locations.

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