Pixel Perfection: An Interview with Maya Pixelskaya

Mar 18, 2013 // dawgtanian

Although fighting games are my number one passion, I also have a special place in my heart for the wonderful world of retro video games. I consider 8-bit pixel art to be worthy of being hung next to that of Van Gogh or even Picasso, and it seems I’m not the only one with a love for pixelated artistry.

Spanish artist Maya ‘Pixelskaya’, has made quite an impact on the Internet with her unique and jaw-droppingly skillful pixel painting techniques. I decided to interview her to find out more about her, as well as offering you guys a glimpse at some of her art, with even an insider look at how she creates each master piece.

Below is the first part of this multi-part interview, check back next week if you want to read more about Maya and her pixel art!


What’s your name, and what is it you do?

My name is Maya, although I work under the pseudonym Maya Pixelskaya in honor of my Russian name and my passion for pixel graphics. And that’s exactly what I do: pixels! Of all colors and sizes. But there is one thing that sets my pixels aside: they are hand painted, one by one.

I make art based on retro videogames or as I like to call it, RetroGame Art. It all began when I was a teenager, in the late 90’s and the dawn of the 21st century. I remember those years as a time when next-gen graphics and technological innovation were all the rage, while I still played classic adventure games over and over and missed the timeless charm and beauty of classics like Street Fighter II or Prince of Persia .

What’s the reason behind your retro inspired art?

Needless to say, I was a total nerd (still am), but I was also a passionate artist ever since I was a kid, so both sides of me started to mix naturally when I felt like everyday objects could use a retrogame makeover.

So I began customizing things, from musical instruments to pieces of clothing, but with time those objects lost their original purpose and became a mere excuse for me to design and create something beautiful out of the wonderful games of my childhood; something that would reach out to other fans of that era and make them bring back that old fascination to their minds. And I found out I could do that on a traditional canvas, on a shoe… or even on my fingernail.

What’s your favourite most treasured piece and why?

If I had to choose my favorite pieces among all my work, I would select two that represent special moments of my short career. The first would be my Mêlée Island Converse shoes. I made them back in 2009 as a very special gift for a friend when I wasn’t known at all, and I posted them on my old blog expecting just a couple of comments (as you can see, my expectations were as low as the quality of the pictures). Imagine my amazement when they were suddenly all over the Internet, and my inbox was filled with requests for commissions!

The other piece I hold dear, even though I don’t have it with me either, is my Maniac Mansion tie. I made it in 2011, two years after my first shot at Internet success, and it was a gift for Ron Gilbert, designer of the game. The fact that my work can reach the authors of the games that have inspired me all my life is mind blowing. It is also a very special piece because, despite how simple it looks, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever painted; just one misstep, a tiny blot of paint over the silk, and the whole tie would have been ruined!


The area of my work that has brought me most notoriety around the Internet is the customization of canvas and rubber shoes. I see them as ready-to-wear paintings, just like ties! Their shape, and the fact that they must always be a two-piece set, makes them a great design challenge, full of amazing possibilities. The last pair I made featured a classic combat from Street Fighter II: Chun-Li versus Ryu. It was fun to see how positive were the reactions, and also how picky Street Fighter fans are! They were all pretty concerned about how Chun Li was eventually going to get hit by that Hadouken…

In the last year, I have chosen to take a break from customization and I have gone back to the basics… Painting on canvas! I’m enjoying it immensely, and though these pieces are taking me way longer than my average miniature work, I am very happy with the results and can’t wait to show you all. If you want to get a peek at them, just stay tuned to Capcom-Unity!


In the mean time you can check out Maya’s website and facebook page at the following links!

Website:  www.mayapixelskaya.com  

Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/MayaPixelskaya