Around end of 2021 we put out a survey for people creating low-spec art, in which we asked a few questions about how people create and share their digital art. This artist is a summary of those results!
Altogether we received a whopping 1038 responses, which is insane! We were very pleased with the response, and are very grateful for everyone who responded.
First I must preface this by saying these results are by no means scientific. This is only a small sampling of the full range of people creating low-spec art forms, which is skewed based on the type of person who answers surveys, and which communities were better at spreading the link. So we’ll talk about that first.
I asked leaders of various pixel art communities to help me get the word out about our survey, and they kindly obliged. The first question asked users where they found the survey (plus it was prefilled by the URL they clicked), so this should give you a pretty good idea of the distribution of where users came from:
As you can see /r/pixelart had the biggest reach, which wasn’t too surprising — the subreddit is approaching almost 500 thousand subscribers (plus I made a bot post the link in every thread). The Pixel Art Discord also got a huge percentage, due to being the biggest discord server for pixel art by far. Third was my own twitter, but I’ll admit I kind of cheated by retweeting it with the Lospec twitter account. The Lospec discord and website came in 4th and 6th (thanks bros), while PixelJoint and their discord was 5th and 8th. And the last notable one was Pixel Dailies in 8th. Those combined accounted for 97% of responses.
We also asked where people were from out in the real world. This is of course influenced heavily by being asked to English speaking communities, but we still got a huge range of people from all over the world.
United States has un unsurprisingly huge lead, so instead here’s the list of numbers 2 through 11:
It’s so great to know that there are pixel people all around the world!
While everyone who answered speaks English (I mean probably... the questions were in English...), there is also a huge number of people who speak one or more other languages! Here’s a quick summary of the most popular:
We opened this survey up to creators of all types of low-spec art, but of course pixel artists make up the majority of the responses, due to it’s popularity, and also our closeness to members of those communities. In fact, nearly 98% of people reported creating pixel art, but 24% of people created more than one type of art, so it’s far from a purely pixel population.
Artistic Journey Length
We also asked artists what year they started creating low-spec art. This appears to skew heavily towards the last 5 years. It could mean that creating pixel art became more popular, but it could just as easily indicate that people only create pixel art for a few years, or that social media is more popular among younger artists. Though it’s not clear, this information is at least useful for giving the rest of the data obtained some context.
Game Art Creation
Almost half of all artists polled created art for games in some capacity during 2021. Understandably a big portion of that was users making art for their own games - it’s surely a leading reason to start creating pixel art in the first place.
Art as a Job
Surprisingly, more than a third of artists reported doing some form of art as a job. It seems commissions are the most popular avenue for jobs, with full time jobs being the least.
We asked users which category of platforms they spent the most time interacting with other users was. It seems social media is still king, with over half of people preferring it. Chatrooms (ie discord), have also become a hotspot for artist activity with over a third of people, leaving art galleries with a measly 10%.
Again these platform results could be heavily swayed by the amount of users who took the survey from each community, so keep the “Districts Reporting” chart in mind while viewing.
Online Art Gallery Community
Not only is social media currently people’s favorite place to post art, about half of users reported not submitting their art to a gallery at all. Most likely users prefer social media's ability to reach non-artist fans. Of course we hope to change this with the upcoming Lospec gallery!
Social Media Usage
Not surprisingly, Twitter is the top social media for low-spec artists, even beating out reddit despite it’s bigger survey reach. Instagram seems to still be lagging behind, most likely due to having a smaller community with less opportunity to “go viral” than twitter (or maybe it’s there an ad every 3 freaking posts...). Discord is surprisingly low, with less than 5%, though while it may not be everyone’s favorite, as you’ll see in the next section there’s still plenty of usage.
While the distribution of favorite chat room isn’t too surprising as it’s closely related to where people found the survey, there are some standouts such as Pixel Dailies reaching the 3rd most popular, and Aseprite coming out of nowhere. There were also a surprising number of smaller / private discords, which have been grouped into Other. Not pictured is the 58% of users who don’t participate in chatrooms, they’re not for everyone!
Most Inspiring Artist
We asked you which artist made the best low-spec art in 2021, and you elected:
Franek is a pixel artist popular on twitter, known for his expansive landscapes in subdued colors, watercolor and other traditional medium mimicry, and pixel art memery.
Brandon James Greer was another popular one, he runs a (probably the biggest) pixel art youtube channel (168k subscribers), with lots of great tutorials and process videos. He makes a lot of game mockups in various styles.
You probably wont be surprised to see 6VCR and Jubilee tied for 3rd, both very talented pixel artists popular on social media.
You should of course also check out the rest of the runner ups as well: AdamCYounis, Snake, Cyangmou, Gato, Deceiver, Pedro Medeiros and Pixeldoshi.
Most Fun Low-Spec Game
We asked to users to choose the low-spec game/expansion they found the most fun. It was a very close race, but the one who came out on top was:
Loop Hero is a very fun and unique game where your character walks around the board in loops, and you customize the board with cards you earn as you defeat enemies. Highly recommend! The game has beautiful art created by russian pixel-god Deceiver.
As you can see Eastward was a very close second, with Deltarune Chapter 2 coming right behind in 3rd.
Be sure to also check out the runner ups, Inscryption, Everhood, Webbed, Unpacking, all great-looking pixel art games, plus the voxel game Teardown Part 2, and low-poly game Valheim.
Best Graphics in a Low-Spec Game
We also asked users for the game/expansion which they thought had the best graphics, and the winner by far was:
Eastward is a gorgeous action-adventure RPG from Shanghai-based Pixpil, with art by lead artist Hong Moran.
The top 3 were the same in both categories, as well as some runner ups, but there were a few unique entries: Flynn: Son of Crimson, Narita Boy, Backbone, and Blasphemous: Wounds of Eventide.
And that sums up our 2022 census! Thank you everyone who participated, we had a great turnout. And we'll try to do this again next year so we can see how things have changed.
Special thanks to Hapiel, Adam, JD, Gourami and all others who helped get the word out!