The 8-bit Art of Toyoya

November 5, 2015 2015年11月5日

Toyoya Li, who was born and brought up in Beijing, first started to work as an interactive designer and a freelance animator after graduating from the Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication. He later joined Fox ADHD as a guest GIF artist, and now he’s also part of Feina Qi, an independent group of local GIF animators. In addition to making his own animations, he also likes to do some personal research into 8-bit pixel art. Toyoya typically likes to put some humor and things about everyday life into his delightfully strange artwork. His works include the short animation Eat Something (2012), the 8-bit illustration Rabbit God Go to East (2012), the animated GIF “Looop” (2014), among many others.

Toyoya Li,土生土长于北京,从北京印刷学院设计系毕业后,做过互动设计师,自由动画师。曾加入Fox ADHD任guest GIF artist,现为本土GIF独立动画创组小组“费纳奇”成员,专注像素动画的研究和创作。他喜欢结合生活中的小事物、小幽默,创作怪诞又可爱的作品。其主要作品有《Eat Something》(2012,动画短片)、《Rabbit God Go to East》(2012,像素&矢量插画) 以及《Looop》(2014,像素GIF) 等等。

Toyoya first became involved with digital pixel art while he was in college, when he discovered some 8-bit games on the Symbian OS. At around that time, he was influenced by emoticons and avatars from the 8-bit community, and from then on, he also started making some pixel art. It was then when Toyoya first came across the work of eBoy, the British illustrator Jack Teagle, the Belgian artist Jangojim, and the Australian animation artist Ivan Dixon, which opened up a new world for him and this further inspired his pixel creations.

Toyoya刚开始接触到数码像素艺术是在大学期间,后因受到Symbian手机系统下的像素游戏以及当时很多表情和社区avatar形象的影响,开始画像素画。当时,eBoy艺术团体、英国插画师Jack Teagle、比利时艺术家Jangojim以及澳大利亚动画艺术家Ivan Dixon的作品,让他看到一个美好的世界,并激发了他的创作。

In 2012, he quit his job and devoted himself fully to making pixel art. Prior to this, Toyoya had always worked in large ad agencies as an animator and interactive designer. In his opinion, doing commercial work required being fully dedicated to a client’s brief and “using his own inspiration to do things for other people”. On the other hand, working on his own personal projects allowed him to play and experiment as he pleased, and to “use his own inspiration to do his own thing”. His own work would have a lot more of his own personality in it.


When talking about how he manages to stay inspired to make his own work while also working on commercial projects, he says that, “Everyone has their own ways of staying creative and keeping their creative momentum. I try to be sensitive and aware of things around me every day, because for me, life is full of inspiration. It can be something as small as the motions I use when I brush my teeth, or even the direction that the water flows when I wash my face. All those small things from life can inspire me. If something is really interesting, I record it in my sketchbook. I’m an introverted person, and every day I like to contemplate and think. Most of my creative ideas and animations come to me from a moment of quiet introspection.”

谈及如何在长期商业创作之余仍然保持个人创作的灵感时,他是这么说的: “每个人都有自己的创作方法和惯性。我会时常保持敏感,因为生活就是一个大的灵感发动机。刷牙时,牙刷的节奏;洗脸时,水流的走向……都能激发出我创作的灵感,再把发现的有趣东西画在本子里记录下来。我是一个比较内向的人,但我会每天在内心做很多思考,与自己交流,我的很多创意和好玩的动画都是从自己安静的思考中得来的。”

Once he finds something that he wants to draw, Toyoya will start to make a sketch, then he adds color to make an illustration, sometimes this 8-bit drawing becomes a design for a t-shirt, a mobile phone case, a laptop computer bag, or other kinds of products. What he enjoys most is sitting in front of the computer very focused on creating something, fully immersed in the world of pixels.


Toyoya enjoys collaborating with and having a free exchange of ideas with the local Chinese animation community. In 2012, he and a friend worked together and made an animated short called Eat Something. Not only is this his favorite work, but the piece also gave him “special unforgettable memories.” He says that being “around like-minded friends and being able to create something special together is a very wonderful process. From this, you can meet many interesting people and learn a lot about the process of collaboration. For me, it is also a process of self-growth.” Toyoya hopes that more people will join the Chinese animation industry, and that both he and the Chinese film industry alike can get more investments and creative opportunities in the future.

Toyoya喜欢通过合作、集体创作等形式,和中国动画社区保持联系和交流。2012年时他和朋友合作的动画短片《Eat Something》,不仅是他最喜欢的作品,也给他带来“一次特别难忘的记忆”。他说: ”和身边志同道合的朋友一起创作,共同完成一件事情,这个过程很美妙。你可以从中认识很多有趣的人,学到很多东西。合作的过程,对我来说也是一个自我成长的过程。“ 关于中国动画,Toyoya希望有更多人投身这个行业,期望这个行业可以和中国电影一样,得到足够的投资,让动画人有更多创作机会。

Recently, because of the increasing interest in WeChat and QQ stickers, he’s also started making some fun stickers in his characteristic 8-bit style. At the same time, he also intends to put some of his previous work out there as stickers too. In the future, he wants to explore new directions and create more pixel animations. He is hoping to produce a three-dimensional pixel work, and wants to collaborate with more friends on new projects. Practically speaking, he also wants to put together an exhibition and get even more people to appreciate pixel art.

最近,源于对微信/QQ表情的兴趣,他开始创作一些有趣又有自己风格的像素表情,同时打算将自己以前的有趣作品应用进去。 对于未来,他将尝试用像素动画进行更多领域的探索和创作,希望能做出立体的像素作品,并希望可以跟更多的朋友做一些好玩的互动,再搬到现实中,做一些有趣的展,让更多的人喜欢上像素。


Contributors: Banny Wang, Winnie Chi


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