The new art style GriddyPop helps you answer the question:
How are you supposed to discover something new if you never look closer?
How can you discover something new if you accept everything at face value?
If you never wonder, huh, is there more?
How can you discover if you never take a closer look?
That is the big question addressed in the new art style, GriddyPop.
WHAT IS GRIDDYPOP?
GriddyPop is a fresh take on portraits. The art looks one way from a distance, entirely different up close, and challenges traditional perceptions.
Small pixels repeat across a grid in various colors and come together to form the portrait. From a distance, this compilation creates a portrait that clearly resembles the subject, but appears to have a mesh filter over the top of the image.
Up close, you no longer see the subject of the GriddyPop portrait. Now, you see the individual pixels in a grid. Traditionally, pixelated art was a combination of squares or blocks. But in GriddyPop, the pixel can be anything. In fact, the choice of pixel is what makes GriddyPop distinct.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL PORTRAIT
What does “classic Marilyn Monroe portrait” make you think? The iconic image of Marilyn gazing at the camera, lips parted suggestively, while trying to hold her skirt down as it blows up around her?
Those types of iconic images are the opposite of the intention for the feature image for GriddyPop portraits. Those images have been overused in advertisements, on billboards, in movies, and re-created in different works of art. They have been used so frequently that just the name, “Marilyn Monroe,” brings her iconic photo to mind.
Instead, the feature image is chosen by digging deep into the archives to find lesser known pictures of the celebrities and characters. These images capture a side of the subject you haven’t seen before.
When you look at these lesser known feature images, you see the subject from a new perspective. You begin to open your mind to discovering something new about them.
BUT WHAT ARE THE GRIDDYPOP PIXELS?
Choosing the pixels to represent the subject in GriddyPop portraits is a thought provoking process.
The pixel isn’t the first shape that comes to mind when thinking about the subject. Instead, lean in and think about the social perception of the person.
Wonder, is this a truth or something that the media is portraying? Different logos associated with the subject, along with popular marketing messages, are considered for the pixel. Wonder, are these marketing strategies meaningful and impactful?
Ultimately, the chosen pixel makes you think critically about the subject and challenges a perception.
For example, when deciding which pixel would best represent Luke Skywalker it would have been easy to choose any iconic Star Wars image: a lightsaber, Yoda, or his X-wing fighter.
But considering the struggles Luke Skywalker faced throughout the Star Wars series it was decided that the best pixel for Luke Skywalker was the Rebel Alliance Starbird. It represents the ongoing battle of good vs evil.
A CLOSER LOOK AT GRIDDYPOP
The overarching theme of GriddyPop is “the closer you look, the more you discover.” This is done through an intentional choice of pixel to represent both the subject and a societal perception. The challenge to “look closer and discover more” is furthered by hidden pixel “easter eggs.” These “easter eggs” are unique pixels that only appear once in the artwork.
In a “Where’s Waldo” style game, 5-10 different pixels are hidden throughout the grid. In doing this, you are encouraged to look even closer and have fun with your discoveries. Like the main pixel in the grid, each of these hidden “easter egg” pixels are symbolic and associated with a societal perspective.
Through each level of looking closer, you are challenged to discover more and think critically.
A CHUNK OF PIXELATION HISTORY
Pixel is an abbreviation for “picture element.” This term was coined in the 1960’s to describe the photographic elements of the popular technology of the time – television. Traditionally, pixelation is a combination of repeating blocks or dots to create a slightly distorted image.
Russel Kirsch is credited with inventing the pixel in the late 1950’s when he created the first pixelated image – a 2 x 2 inch digital image of his son. This black and white image was made from square pixels, resulting in a chunky, blurry representation of his son.
Kirsch later recognized the limitations of producing a smooth-looking image by using square pixels. In a 2010 interview Kirsch told Science News, “Squares was the logical thing to do…Of course, the logical thing was not the only possibility…But we used squares. It was something very foolish that everyone in the world has been suffering from ever since.”
Later, Kirsh developed a pixelation process with a variety of shapes to make smoother-looking images. GiddyPop puts a modern twist on pixelation by choosing relevant pixels that represent a perception of the portrait’s subject.
HOW IT ALL STARTED: THE INSPO FOR GRIDDYPOP
Art from the American painter, Chuck Close, helped inspire the GriddyPop style. Close was a painter, visual artist, and photographer who created abstract self portraits and portraits of others. His technique involved creating a grid and painting square by square so that the small units came together to represent the portrait.
GriddyPop is inspired by how Chuck Close joined small images to create portraits. GriddyPop draws on marketing strategies, product packaging, and logos to choose the small images that will form the grid. Marketing messages behind logos and symbols and how they relate to the subject of the portrait are considered.
GriddyPop grids are designed so that the small images have a deeper meaning in association with the subject of the portrait. The hope is that each time you look closer at GriddyPop, you will discover something new and challenge a traditional way of thinking.
BRINGING IT TOGETHER: GRIDDYPOP TECHNIQUE
The foundation of GriddyPop artwork is a compilation of detailed grids. Each grid is a separate file. The technique alternates between:
- Putting the grid files together to form the image.
- Considering the look of the portrait from a distance.
- Disassembling the files to edit the grids individually.
- Adjusting each grid by tweaking colors, adjusting contrast, and adding texture to bring the portrait to life.
- Re-assembling the grid files…and then starting the process over until satisfied with the final product.
The process is very time consuming, but is worth it. The result is an original work that challenges the complicity of accepting things at face value and instead encourages you to look closer.
THE ART IS POPPIN’
For GriddyPop, art is a process. It isn’t just something that looks nice on your wall. It is something bigger than yourself. Something that challenges you and makes you think. Art that makes you a better person.
Puzzle pieces come together in GriddyPop to create something that’s different and something you can dig into. GriddyPop sparks curiosity and encourages you to discover, every time you look closer.
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