Pixel artist and game designer, Slynyrd, shares his thoughts on living an authentic life through creative self-exploration. In 2015, after living and teaching in Japan, he returned to the States where he channeled his passion for art into composing music, photography, painting, and making videos; looking to focus his inspiration, he soon found Pixel Art.
Read on to learn more about artist Slynyrd, his new game “Thyrian Defenders”, and his creation “Pixelcasts”.
Slynyrd at a glance
What name do you go by?
I work under the artist name Slynyrd, but since we’re getting personal you can call me Raymond.
Where do you live?
Smack in the middle of the United States; Hays, Kansas is a small city most drive or fly right past. However, this speck of civilization amid vast grasslands is where I grew up and will always be special to me. A modest population of 20,000 is just enough to warrant the existence of Fort Hays State University, which is where I received a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts years ago.
What are your favorite creative tools of choice?
I use Photoshop with a Wacom tablet for most of my pixel art, and occasionally Aseprite for animation.
How would you describe yourself in 7 words or less?
Twisted in a good way
What’s the one thing you’re most proud of in your artwork?
I’m most proud of my unique vision and ability to pull original ideas from entirely imagined universes.
“Immersed in the natural world I can sense the constant flux of life and the immense potential for creativity held within infinite forms and colors. Thus, a torrent of inspiration springs forth.”
I love the different “worlds” and creatures you create in your art – would you share where the inspiration for your art comes from?
Life itself is a work of art and everything I experience can be a source of inspiration. However, I can easily say my greatest source of creative energy comes from nature. Whenever the tank gets empty I escape to the countryside to surround myself with grass, trees, sky, and animal folk. Immersed in the natural world I can sense the constant flux of life, and the immense potential for creativity held within infinite forms and colors. Thus, a torrent of inspiration springs forth.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
In spite of his profession, one of my college instructors preached the importance of self-discovery, claiming it made up 90% of learning any artistic skill. This still sticks with me today and empowers me to fearlessly take on new challenges, and not just in regards to art.
Hays, Kansas, USA
One artist, many passions
I’m working on a video game project called Thyrian Defenders. I’m creating all of the artwork and designs, while my friend does the code and helps with the game design. If you enjoy my artwork you will really dig the detailed worlds and characters I’m creating for this shoot ‘em up game.
I launched a Patreon site at the beginning of August, I wanted to round out my content with something educational, or at least insightful and address the frequently asked but not easily answered question, “How do you make your pixel art?”.
At first, I considered tutorials but quickly decided they contradict my self-discovery philosophy. After numerous iterations, I finally streamlined the format to smooth, music-driven time-lapse videos I call Pixelcasts. I post a new Pixelcast on my Youtube channel every Wednesday. My Patreon site also offers many exclusive artworks and early access to my latest content.
Slynyrd on the future: “I’m really excited about the continued development of my latest series, Juncajar. Wondrous and bizarre, there is no limit to where I can go with this whimsical space-themed universe.”
Of all your works on Redbubble, which is your favorite? Why?
I’m proud of all my work but I would have to say Pulse City. Made in the early days of my exploration into pixel art, it was my most ambitious piece yet. Proving I could handle the grind to make large-scale pixel artworks was a milestone. But most importantly, this piece established several core elements that have come to define my unique style.
Where have you lived or traveled? And would you say those places influenced your art?
Absolutely. I think it’s essential for artists to speak something from their immediate surroundings and experiences.
My only departure from life in Kansas was a five-year period in Japan. Teaching English in public schools around the Tokyo area, I definitely got my share of new challenges. Let alone becoming fluent in a foreign language, many valuable life lessons opened my world to a greater light. Of course, these experiences impacted my art. Most notably, I improved at cartooning and developed what seems to be the highest Japanese value, a sensibility for cuteness.