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Pixel Art Identification Survey

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Everyone, could you do me a favor, please, and be honest? I have a series of 11 works of pixel art here, zoomed in to about 1000x1000 pixels. If you view them full-size, can you identify what they depict without being told or zooming them out? If you can identify them, what do you see them as, and how difficult was it to see it? This is approximately how I present them on T-shirts I attempt (and fail) to sell, and I am trying to figure out why. I figure Spidweb is about as close to my target market as I'll ever get, so if nobody gets it, I'll know what the issue is.




Thanks for helping!

EDIT: Here are the answers:


1. A pineapple.
2. A stack of dollar bills with a few gold coins in front.
3. A vulture.
4. Bees hovering among flowers.
5. A cactus in a pot, with a blooming flower. Inspired by my beloved late fishhook. :(
6. A sheep kneeling on the grass.
7. A plate of pancakes and bacon.
8. Shamrocks, with flower head.
9. A praying mantis.
10. A banana split ice cream sundae.
11. A dragonfly.


Edited by The Almighty Doer of Stuff
EDIT: posted the answers
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1. a pineapple?

2. a dollar bill on top, no idea about the lower half of the image

3. a vulture

4. bees and flowers?

5. a cactus, either in a pot or on a table

6. a rather scary-looking sheep

7. a plate of pancakes

8. a flower of some kind

9. a praying mantis, or maybe a grasshopper

10. not sure

11. I think this the same as #6?



That was...mostly easy, though as you'll see from my responses a couple stumped me. I didn't need more than a moment or two to recognize most of them.

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Triumph, 11 is the same as 6, yes. I accidentally saved it over another. Hold on, I'll fix it. EDIT: fixed.

Slarty, that's the thing to do of course, but I've been doing this for over two years with maybe four or five customers, one of whom was my mother. I'm trying to separate out the different parts of the puzzle so I can isolate problems.

Edited by The Almighty Doer of Stuff
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Indeed. *facepalm* I don't remember what it was before so I just picked a different one.

I've more or less given up on my shirt business for the time being, anyway. Marketing is too stressful, which is why I have done so little of it, and therefore my business being a non-starter. But it may be not starting because I haven't put gas or the key in it, rather than the engine being dead. I don't know right now. If nobody recognizes my art or likes it, that'd explain it being a nonstarter, but few people want to be honest. They'd rather see a friend struggle endlessly with something pointless than hurt his feelings. People here I'm hoping will be more up-front.

I've more recently been hired by a friend to make sprites for her computer game she's designing, so I'm trying to focus on that unless there's some big revelation about my shirt shop. It's tough making animated humans, but I can learn.

Edited by The Almighty Doer of Stuff
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2 hours ago, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

People here I'm hoping will be more up-front.


okay, i'll bite.


you are making a product, nobody is buying said product. as far as i can tell this boils down to three possible issues?


  1. Your marketing sucks. what is your target audience. are you reaching out to them. do you know what your target audience is.
  2. Your product sucks. what is its purpose. why would i want to use a giant pixellated pineapple to cover my magnificent breasts. does this product fill a niche that needs to be filled (and are you willing to accept tiny profits from a tiny niche)
  3. There is a great conspiracy against you to undermine your business.

as an avid buyer of nerdy t-shirts of various qualities and tastes, i see no reason to cover my magnificent breasts with a giant pixellated pineapple. have you performed any sort of market research to determine if anyone else in the world wants to do said covering with your pineapples. otherwise you may have to accept that you are selling a product nobody wants to buy. if you are making these because you feel like it, all the power to you, but don't expect capitalism to give you a pat on the back for following your passion. if i could get paid money even if my product was unwanted, i assure you i would be doing a lot more demeaning and humiliating (read: ;)) things than working in a hotel.


you want to make a living selling t-shirts? okay, find a target audience. then make a product for them. then market that product to them. but, to be up-front, unless you do that (and are prepared to fail many, many times before finding the right formula) then you should accept your current life of doing whatever it is you do.


2 hours ago, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

If nobody recognizes my art or likes it, that'd explain it being a nonstarter, but few people want to be honest.


i would hesitate to call a pixellated pineapple art, much like i would hesitate to describe a stick-figure spray painted onto a burning dumpster as art. maybe i have bad taste.


i can go onto the internet and casually find art i think is much niftier than pineapples (and that's only scratching the surface of one rather-niche fandom). i dunno. maybe manage expectations? practice, get better at pixel arting, then come back to it? honestly i don't know. but i am unable to determine why your t-shirts exist, or who would buy them.


this has been: sylae being up-front and honest.

Edited by sylae
sorry if this comes across as rude, but i don't think there's a realistic way to be up-front and honest without being a bit short? not gonna hugbox you, sorry
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1 hour ago, sylae said:



i would hesitate to call a pixellated pineapple art, much like i would hesitate to describe a stick-figure spray painted onto a burning dumpster as art. maybe i have bad taste.

I generally agree with your points, but I'd say it qualifies as art, since Duchamp's Fountain killed that sort of argument. But yeah, it's not art that's necessarily going to sell.

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It was obvious to me what all of these are. Mainly, I echo Sylae: I don't know why you would expect these to sell on shirts. By default, things do not sell, and I dunno what would move these from that baseline.


I've never really liked graphic tees, and less and less so as time goes on. I'm really picky about clothing, though. There seem to be two ways to sell a graphic tee to the masses. Cheap as dirt and not overt, so people who subsist on a wardrobe of graphic tees will buy it at random when one of their old ones dissolves, or ludicrously overpriced and of genteel branding, so band people or sports people or other nerds with more money and identity than sense will buy it to signal gang affiliation. Alternative strategies such as "look nice" are supplemental at best.


Frankly, I don't know of any individual that makes a living selling T-shirts they designed through a store connected to an online T-shirt printer. Online stores like that are almost always supplemental tie-ins to some other thing that person does that makes people want to pay attention to them and give them money.  I do know one person that makes a living hand-painting weird artist designs on shirts and selling them out of a booth at fairs and stuff. I have one of those. It's nice.

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6 hours ago, Sudanna said:

 band people or sports people or other nerds with more money and identity than sense will buy it to signal gang affiliation.

Hello there :p

Edited by sylae
at least I'm swapping out mildly pony-like wardrobe for other stuff that is slightly lower on the cult scale
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21 hours ago, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

Thanks for the feedback, Triumph and Sylae, although there are more options than just the pineapple...

I think that the issue comes down to why wear a pixilated dragon fly.  Wearing a pixilated minecraft character ties into a recently popular game.  Wearing a pixilated Mario invokes nostalgia.  The nostalgia is not for a simpler time when graphics were highly limited.  The nostalgia is for the enjoyment from playing the 8, 16, 32 or 64 bit game when life was simpler.  Obviously you cannot sell pixilated Marios because of copy right issues, but I doubt you are gone to find a market for pixilated random objects.

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1. pineapple.  reminds me of Adventure Island for some reason.


2. money


3. a vulture or something


4. bees on a bunch of flowers


5. potted cactus


6. an evil shep


7. pancakes and bacon


8.  ?? This is the only one that I have trouble making out.  four leaf clovers and a rose?  Almost makes me think of Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors?


9. Mantis


10. a sundae.  I almost said banana split but I don't think I would call anything I see a banana.


11. a dragonfly


I didn't have trouble identifying any of them (except one, see comments), but I'm not certain of the market appeal of these.  #6 looks cool and maybe could go on pajamas?  As a proof of concept these are mostly recognisable and I suppose, you see someone from afar and think "oh an (object xyz) on the shirt, neat"  and then you get closer and see just how pixelated it is and think "neat".   I think people might identify with 7 and 10 just because they are popular items.  I'm not sure if the other ones have either nostalgic pull or identifiability.   Gotta hit them with the ol' appeal to pathos.


Maybe as a happy medium, if you have a design that was important to you but doesn't seem to be selling, you can use a cafepress shop for those so there's no overhead, Having inventory you're not selling can sink you, but having a few extra designs on a cafepress shop I don't think can hurt anything.  


I buy tons of nerdy stuff but I'm probably not buying pixel duds if I can't identify with it.

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I exclusively use print on demand shops - Zazzle for pinback buttons and Galloree for everything else. My mom bought a shirt a couple weeks ago. Otherwise literally nothing has sold for over a year, and even then it wasn't more than about three customers. (Except one hipstery recently-legal-to-burn plant design sold three copies on the Spreadshirt marketplace before I switched to Galloree. It frustrated me because I have no interest in the subject matter but it was the only one selling.)

Some of these, especially the very low-res ones, may fit well enough in a a computer game I'll hopefully be making in the future with a friend. If the game sells, THEN attachments to elements of it might form and people might want to buy some of it. I can even group all the gameish things together on a page and have the other stuff still available once people are drawn in by the game merch, and even if now hopefully I'll be making enough money from the game and merch that I won't need it.

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I saw this today and it made me think of this thread:



I don't know why, and I failed to mention last time, but the images made me think of an old game called Dave Dude in the Holiday Story 95.  But I went back and looked/reminisced at screenshots from that game and there doesn't seem to be a solid reason why.  It's funny how memories work like that.


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So my shirt shop is officially going dormant. While this thread is here though, who knows ornithology? Try to identify the birds! Some of them are based on specific species and some are not, but they're all based on real-world birds. I hope they're at least recognizable as birds, even if they're not identifiable for what birds they're based on. Zoomed in 3x for visibility.


Answers, left to right, from top row down:


1. Green parrot
2. Chicken (rooster)
3. Cardinal
4. New world robin
5. Chicken (chick)
6. Budgerigar (a.k.a. parakeet)
7. Cockatoo
8. Scarlet macaw
9. Blue jay
10. Chicken (hen)
11. Crow
12. Vulture
13. Cockatiel
14. Nest with eggs, no particular species


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