For The Birds! Artist Interview

By Farfalle | For The Birds | 20 Apr 2021

For The Birds is an original series of pixel art featuring birds of the world. It is being sold to protect rainforest. Proceeds will be donated to the World Land Trust, an organization that buys and protects rainforest around the world.

See the full Collection. UPDATE: We've been whitelisted on Atomic Hub! Also, We have our own domain name, The old links will continue to work through the release.

As we get closer to our Earth Day release (April 22nd) we're posting more info surrounding the project. Get Hyped! We're going to buy rainforest with crypto and keep it safe!

Click the image to see the pixel art stages.

Animation showing creation of starling illustration

Interview with the artist, Allen West

How did you get started with pixel art?

I was learning C# to help a friend out developing a unity game and was getting frustrated by how slowly the project was moving. I had just discovered game jams and wanted to do something real quick. I only had a cheap netbook so pixel work seemed like a great way to make the game by myself in the 2 week deadline. DeerJam came out of it, and I've been infatuated with the whole scene ever since.


Why Birds?

I never paid much attention to birds before my grandmother died. I was helping pack up her things and found an old cassette tape of bird song. I digitized it and used the wave forms as a pattern for some tapestries. Each step, I like to do a lot of research for my work so I started learning more about birds and grew to appreciate them. For the current mass-extinction birds occupy an interesting space. They aren't the "canary in the coal mine." Rather, many species have been recovering over the last few decades thanks to conservation efforts around the world. They allow for optimism in the future of wildlife. They're wonderfully diverse, culturally specific, and boundary breaking (well, the migratory ones).

Having said that, I would totally do a series on plankton, or geckos, or flowers, or sharks.


Who are your influences?

It hurts to name just a few. I can hack it though. A handful of favorites are Azuma Makoto, a florist and art star. I mean, he sent a bonsai into space. That's cool. Tracy Widdess, A.K.A. the Brutal Knitter, is easily one of the most creative knitters in the world right now. For pixel work, I don't think Paul Robertson can be beat. However, a quick look at pixel joint will show anyone how much talent is out there. Last, but not least, Arthur Ganson, who's a brilliant and poetic sculptor. I find other's art very motivating. I think, "I want to do that!" Then it becomes about making it my own. "How I want to do that." Is a much harder and more satisfying thought to resolve.


How has the pandemic affected your work?

Thankfully I have been able to keep my job. For a few months we had to work from home and that led to a lengthy depression. Coming out of that, however, I started making work much more consistently. Of course, fiber art is really something that benefits from IRL exhibitions. I'm still making that work, but not trying to show it right now. That's one reason why I've turned a lot more attention towards online and global communities. I was playing lost relics, and talking to people from around the world. It felt great to do that and this bird project owes a lot to them I think. 

I resist making work about immediate crises in general. It can take me a long time to think through such big event, especially when I'm in the middle of it. I'm glad many artists are making work about the pandemic. I don't think I need to as well.


Any Crypto Advice?

*Chuckles. Well, the only reason I made any money is because I bought stuff in November and everything got more valuable since then. So -not financial advice- and all that. I guess my only suggestion is to be patient and avoid anything on Etherium's chain. Unless you buy and hold/sell (and literally nothing else) the fees will eat all your profits. Plus, there are so many other good projects, and they're making lots of money too. Once ETH gets it sh*t together, I'll start working with those assets again.


Are there future plans for For The Birds?

Yes. Much of it will depend on how this goes as it was planned to be a monetary loss. A series 2 will definitely happen. We'll take longer with it, making sure it covers a wider geography and includes some notably absent birds (penguins, owls,, gulls). I also really want to try representing a species that went extinct pre-photography, without a specimen. I'd have to reconstruct it using research notes and that sounds like a fun challenge. The person who wins the extinct species auction gets to pick the next bird too. I'm excited and nervous about that.

If series 1 does very well, we can put some effort into an app. I'm thinking about a virtual aviary. We could link the WAX wallet api to Xeno Canto's api, and have actual recordings of the bird song for your collection. That sounds beautiful and would encourage more collecting. 


What other projects are you working on?

There is a series of lace knit pieces I'm working on. I'm conceiving of them as shrouds. They're stiffened over forms to be subtly sculptural. I see a lot of shared concerns between knitting and pixel work. Both rely heavily on seeing a bigger picture, but only being able to work through miniscule details. Knitting takes much longer though, so I'm grateful to spend a day on a bird and feel accomplished. I'm also writing a paper on needle felt for an encyclopedia. How I came to something so academic is beyond me. It's exciting though!




Put any questions you have in the comments and continue the conversation.

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