03 Mar Insta Crush: Julius the character creator

While browsing through Instagram scouting for INK’s next Insta Crush, one account captured our attention with its unique posts of characters in Pixel art form. Classic game characters like Super Mario, Zelda, Tamagochi and Digimon will definitely ring a bell when you look at these 8-bit pixel art.

Characters like Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Katniss of The Hunger Games or the Harry Potter series are successful characters that captured the hearts of people with their great personality. Instagram account @kangblabla features unique characters that have made an impact on its creator’s life.

Julius Raja Manickam, the man behind this Instagram account has been character creating since he was 5 years old and has been doing so ever since (yup, he has devoted his life to it). This is Julius’s own unique way of communicating his experiences into art, which also explains why his 8-bit characters have so much personality even when they are not animated. Julius enjoys the process of creating as he likens it to being “The Creator”.

“I’m basically creating life through my characters.” — Julius Raja Manickam

An account that started out as a mere gallery of his artworks, Julius decided to make it mainly about his pixel art in December 2016. This all started because Julius wanted a new profile picture and decided to use pixel art to create a fun one. Here’s pixelated Julius.

kangblabla

Having dabbled in pixel art briefly in the past, Julius continued to pixel-draw several of his friends and before he knew it, he had created a whole collection. This eventually inspired him to continue pixel-drawing people around him. It is a very satisfying experience for Julius when he is able to capture a person’s character in his art. Another factor that drives him to continue character designing is that his works also convey a message of unity through diversity. Just scroll through his Instagram feed filled with 8-bit portraits. You will find that no matter how different and individualistic we all are, together we are all still like a family. No room for prejudice, hate or division.

You can try your hand at creating Pixel art here or download the 8bit Painter on your phone to do it, just like how Julius creates his characters without a laptop.

Besides 8-bit pixel characters, Julius also does wood assembly figurines as he gets continuous supply of wood from donations, dumpster diving or during his treasure hunts while walking around the city. According to Julius, each created character as shown below are like pieces of a puzzle board. These puzzle pieces if put together will then tell an ongoing grand tale.

A self admitted night owl or B-people, Julius finds it most comfortable to work at night till the wee hours of dawn at his home/studio as he has all of his tools. However, there are no boundaries for his 8-bit pixel portraits as he can create them at anytime, anywhere on his phone.

Read on and find out more about Julius.

What led you to create this @kangblabla Instagram account?

I felt the need to separate my artworks from my daily life postings, as it got confusing to the public of what I really do. I do want my art to speak on behalf of me, and it’s easier to have a whole account dedicated to my artworks when asked for an art portfolio.

What is #kebaburself?

Kebaburself literally means kebab yourself. Kebab is another name that I go by with as it’s the short form of kangblabla (kbb) and since every time I see kbb, I get reminded of kebabs. Furthermore, it’s a much catchier word to use rather than #kangblablaurself.

What is your art style?

Mediums change from time to time, depending on what I have in hand and around me, wooden assembly, murals, paintings, drawings, comics, poetry, pixel art, etc. The only constant is that all my works are heavily character based and a constant theme of cuteness can be found in my works =D

What inspires you right now?

My source of inspiration comes from cartoons, comics, music and the intricacies of human connections. Almost anything can become a source of inspiration if we just look at things in a different perspective from that of our own. I also think that empathy has a lot to do in seeing things from a different perspective.

On average, how much time is needed to draw with 8bit?

Duration of completing artworks are never the same, each has its own challenges and can’t be calculated really. However, a rough estimate for portraits is about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the person I’m pixelating.

Who are your favourite illustrators?

I grew up loving Michael Chuah, also known as C2V, a local comic artist of the famed Gengkey comics; who is kind of the reason that led me to pursue art as a career. His line of work and stories really inspired me greatly as a kid. Other artists that inspire me include Masashi Kishimoto, Dan Hipp, Bom.K, RekaOne, James Jean, Akira Toriyama, Pendleton Ward, Rebecca Sugar, Chris Gerringer, etc. The list is too long.

Follow Julius’s Instagram for more #kebaburself characters – @kangblabla
Check out Julius’s Facebook – kangblabla

Photography by: Julius (@juliusrajamanickam)
Article by: Celestine Na (@celestjoan)