Dirt: Life of a pixel artist

New Dirty fanart.

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Kyle Chayka on new Dirty art and an interview with our latest artist, Kam2D, on the social-media ecosystem of fanart commissions.

🚨A New Dirty Has Appeared!!!🚨

You all know Dirt’s mascot Dirty. They’re in the logo. They’re the NFTs that fund this publication. And now, a new Dirty is unveiled: This Pokemon-style pixel-art sprite by the Toronto-based artist Kam2D. Kam nailed the particular Pokemon aesthetic, along with the resting-pose animation. Dirty is ready for battle, but in a very friendly way, with attacks like Recommendation and Harsh Review.

I’ve long been fascinated with the illustration ecosystem on Twitter. If you put a call out for an art commission, you’ll get dozens of great replies (along with plenty of bots that respond to any tweet that says ‘illustration’). Kam learned to make pixel art online and also finds work via Twitter — a relatively non-algorithmic platform. Here’s a short conversation about how that all works.

Kyle Chayka: How did you get into pixel art to begin with?

Kam: I got into pixel art last year when I decided to draw myself a new profile pic for Discord. I had a lot of fun in the process so I made a Twitter account and just kept practicing, mostly using prompts from @Pixel_Dailies for inspiration. I didn't have a background in art before pixel art, unless extremely amateurish graphic design counts.

KC: What kinds of commissions do you usually get asked to do?

Kam: There's honestly a ton of variety in the commissions I take. I've done profile pics, banners, video game assets, stream overlays, fanart, and lots of miscellaneous art of people's original characters.

KC: Is there one kind of commission that makes the most money for you?

Kam: Most of my commissions are for artwork of people's characters, original or otherwise. It's thankfully also what I make the most money from, because I can charge a fair price for those and also finish them fairly quickly because it's what I'm best at.

KC: Is there a big market on Twitter for art of people’s characters, like from narratives they’ve made up? I seem to notice it more and more.

Kam: I think so, yeah! There are a lot of people out there with characters they're attached to because of stuff like tabletop RPGs, video games, their own writing, or mascots like Dirty, so the market's pretty sizable.

KC: How does Twitter help you as a tool for getting work?

Kam: Twitter's been insanely helpful for networking with other pixel artists, which in turn leads to a lot of work via referrals from my peers. It's also, in my opinion, the best social media site for building an audience as an artist. Twitter's algorithm doesn't punish artists for posting content irregularly, compared to sites like Instagram which throttle your visibility if you can't maintain a consistent stream of content.

Art is an important part of Dirt’s future. If there’s an artist you think we should commission or Dirty fanart you want to see, let us know. NFTs won’t be made of Kam’s work but NFT action is coming soon.

The Dirt: Twitter is the new Instagram.