CodeVA is preparing for Full Steam Ahead by introducing some of the amazing workshop hosts that are participating in this year’s event. MeeNa Ko (who goes by ‘Moawling’) has been around Eureka Workshop for longer than just this summer, though! They’ve shown up to help teach pixel art camps and share their work over the past several summers. Below, Snail Mail expert Pepper has asked them a couple of questions about being a professional pixel artist and the ways that Moawling uses computer science.
How did you start doing what you do?
I had no idea that posting my artwork online would lead into making video games. Pixel art started off as a fun hobby to escape from schoolwork. I really wanted to make art that made me happy.
When I first started uploading my pixel art to Newgrounds, I was immediately welcomed by a great community of fellow artists, animators, and musicians. My game development journey spontaneously unfolded after meeting the right people who became life-long collaborators and friends. We started off just making artworks and games for fun, which later developed into long-term projects. Our ambitions grew and we eventually found ourselves in established industry gigs before realizing it. Uploading Pokemon fanart eventually led me to work for companies like Microsoft, Wayforward, and Newgrounds!
What will you be talking about at Full Steam Ahead?
I’ll be coordinating a pixel art portrait workshop where participants will create their own portraits through modifying existing assets or creating their own! Portraiture is such an important vehicle for expression and representation, from video game avatars to social media profile pictures. I’d like for students of this workshop to be empowered to claim these spaces for their self-expression.
How does computer science get utilized in your field?
Computer science makes the games go WHEEE.
Computer science is essential for making games work! Code is the language that helps computers realize our intentions and share them with others. You want to make a game where you’re a chef for a bunch of baby dragons? You have to explain to a computer what a “dragon” is first, that takes a lot of programming! Games start and end with code.
What is one piece of advice you would give people interested in your field?
Don’t let conventions of professionalism prevent you from making things that make you happy. You can get your start anywhere with the right kind of community! Whatever is successful “now” has already been done, you’re completely free to challenge existing structures and define your own means of success.
What is a childhood hobby you had that helped lead you to where you are now?
My love for gameboy games sparked my initial interest in pixel art. As a middle schooler I would edit game sprites on MS Paint and make them my own! The power to modify existing artworks for my own worldbuilding is fundamental to the art I make today.
To see Moawling talk about pixel art, join us for this year’s Full Steam Ahead! More info here: http://full-steam-ahead.info/