Monkeying around: SockMonkey chats with zx.8bit

If you’ve done much street wandering since the world began to open up you may have noticed some pixelated pieces popping up in random, and sometimes ingenious, spaces in and around Middlesbrough. We had a chat to the artist behind the urban works, ZX, about their inspirations and favourite pieces.  

fez, graffiti art by Z8bit So Who is ZX? 

“ZX is myself, my brother and occasionally my sister.”  

How did you get into graffiti art? Did you study art or just have a raw passion? 

“I’ve never studied art academically but I’ve always been a keen artist and I have spent my entire life creating through many different mediums so I guess you could call this a raw passion. I got into graffiti when I had the idea for pixelated/video game street art. I used my garage as a practise space and spent many months trying to perfect the art of spraying before taking it to the streets.” 

What made you settle on game/movie references? 

“Initially I was only going to spray video game characters but movies are a big love too and I recognised I could develop and broaden the idea by incorporating movie references too. I was also interested in spraying things that had hitherto never been pixelated.” 

Pulp Fiction, Graffiti art by ZX8bit

Do you have a favourite piece? 

“My favourite piece is probably the ‘Double Dragon’ piece,I really like the way the sprayed characters interact with the environment. All intentional and planned of course but it’s always a thrill to step back and see it come to life.” 

Double Dragon., Graffiti art by ZX8Bit

I’ve seen that you often incorporate urban landscape in your pieces, where do you get the inspiration for this?  

The idea of incorporating the landscapes is a real part of the art for me. I think the pieces that work best are the images that interact in someway with their environment. I spend a lot of time looking for locations to suit ideas I have. The ‘Double Dragon’ piece is the best example of this.” 

Question box, Graffiti art by ZX8Bit

How does graffiti art differ from more traditional canvas art? Do you have any tips for budding artists? 

“Graffiti art in my opinion is very different to canvas art or other mediums purely based on all the factors to consider. The weather and poor lighting are vital since we mostly spray at night but then there’s the risk  of getting caught. It can be difficult to execute precise street art whilst constantly looking over your shoulder for police or anyone else who might be offended by what we do. 

As for tips for budding artists… I wouldn’t feel established or competent enough an artist to give other artists tips. I think anyone who has a passion for art will succeed more by finding what works for themselves. Trial and error is very important!” 

How long does it take to complete a piece?  

“Each piece takes several hours, depending on the complexity/location and the aforementioned factors.” 

Describe your art in three words 

“I mean, ‘pixelated street art’ would be the answer but I think you’re looking for something more personal than that – but right now I ain’t got nothing else! ????” 

Peach from Mario, Graffiti art by ZX8Bit

Do you have an artist you look up to? 

“I love all art to be honest, any expression of ideas, emotion and creativity has always interested and fascinated me. Conventionally I’m a big fan of Van Gogh and Magritte among others but my real love is animation and video game graphics.

Although it might not seem like it at first glance, I believe the works of Van Gogh and Magritte have influenced every form of art either consciously or subconsciously and you probably wouldn’t have to did too deep to find direct references in many games and film.” 

What’s your favourite video game and why? 

“Wow. Tough one. 

I guess it’s kind of a boring answer but I think all the Mario games are the greatest. They’re all just so perfect in every way. The music, the characters, the level designs etc it’s all so just completely great and they continued to make improvements and get better. I’m also very fond of Alex Kidd in miracle world as I played it a lot on account of it coming “built in” to the Sega Master System I received one Christmas!
I could talk forever about video games (as me and my brother so often do). 

Mario, Graffiti art by ZX8Bit

One thing I really miss is arcade cabinets. I would always make a beeline for the Simpsons or TMNT arcade games in Amusement parks as a kid, so I’d definitely cite those as favourites too. If I was to offer a more recent game, I’d say Cuphead! 10/10!”

Anything else you would like to mention? 

“ZX8BIT are comprised of 2 brothers (and occasionally our sister). We aim to continue spreading our video game artwork around Middlesbrough and beyond. We thank our followers for their support and promise to deliver bigger and bolder works for their delectation.

Pixel art by ZX8Bit

???? Watch this space ????”

Follow ZX on Instagram to keep up with all of their street art creations and keep up with all of the SockMonkey creations by following us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, too! 

Wow you’ve made it all the way down to the bottom of the page? Are you still a little hungry for content? Check out our other blogs here then you cheeky rascal. 

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