It’s a bird, it’s a plane, It’s Dylan West! This month’s featured artist and founder of Pixel Empire!
Pixel empire has really started turning into exactly that: an empire. How did your career get started?
Well first off, thanks for saying that. It’s kind of hard to believe that less than 10 years ago the company was being ran out of my dorm room.
I guess you could say my big break that really kickstarted this whole journey is all thanks to the YouTuber VSauce3 in 2014. I had stayed up all night designing a Titanfall poster and uploaded it to my Etsy storefront. The following day I looked at my Etsy account and saw hundreds of orders! (Keep in mind before that day I was lucky to sell 10 posters a month).
"Standby for Titanfall" by Dylan West
I had no idea where this sudden success had come from until I Googled myself and found that VSauce3 had featured my artwork in a GameLüt video. That 10 second shoutout encouraged me to immediately quit my waiter job and focus on my artwork full time.
Years later I wrote a letter to Jake from VSauce3 telling him that those 10 seconds changed my life. He was so moved that such a small action had resulted in creating a company that supports so many artists and YouTubers that he asked if we would produce an officially licensed Vsauce vinyl record for charity together. I, of course, jumped at the idea.
To this day, creating this vinyl record for VSauce3 is one of my crowning achievements.
What is your best selling design?
I had to look at 10 years worth of stats to answer this but it apparently is my Original Trilogy Set. Which just so happened to be the first designs I ever made (I guess I peaked back in 2012 haha).
"Original Trilogy" Set by Dylan West
However, technically that’s a SET.
The best selling single design is Would You Kindly. I’m going to chalk that up to the fact that it’s one of the few posters we do that glow in the dark. It really adds to the creepy Rapture vibes.
Which design is your personal favorite?
While the above-mentioned Titanfall design might mean the most to me sentimentally, I’m going to have to say ‘Finish The Fight’.
I’ve made a lot of designs that I’m proud of in this particular silhouette series, however, I feel that everything just works flawlessly in this one.
The way that the hidden Cortana figure seamlessly flows with Master Chief’s silhouette. How the Halo in the background creates the perfect light source for him. But most importantly I’m happy with how the raised gloss effect turned out. Anytime I walk by this print it catches the light and looks like his shields are charging up. I can’t help but hear the “Vvvuuup” sound in my head.
It also really shows the progression of my art style. This design is more or less a remaster of an old Halo design I did back in 2012 called ‘Spartans Never Die’.
"Finish the Fight" by Dylan West
You have been in hardcore design mode for a while now, is there a design you’re excited to release coming up?
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to design more. Because I’ve had to primarily focus on the business side of things for the last few years I thought it would be important to go back to my roots and design more. Which is my favorite part of this job.
I just finished two different four-poster sets that I can’t wait to release. Since this first one is scheduled to come out in the next few days I’ll share it here first.
I Choose Starter Set featuring the original Starters that started it all. As with most of my designs I hid a clever surprise within each of the first three main subject’s legs.
As for everyone’s favorite electric rodent, I made his light source be a lightning bolt in the shape of his tail.
As for the next set, I’m waiting to release these as soon as we finish a very limited edition set of custom frames to go along with them that are a piece of art within themselves. The only hint I’ll share for this release is 💧🪨🔥💨
What inspires your art style?
My art style is rooted and based on graphic design. It’s what I went to school for. Because I’m not the most creative illustrator my style leans more towards minimalism. I’m always a big fan of a design that can convey a lot of information with not a lot of details. Which explains why so many of my designs have silhouettes as their subjects.
Artists that inspire me are the legendary Olly Moss from Mondo (RIP) and Pixel Empire bestselling artist Felix Tindall.
Your designs have a dynamic three to four word quote on them, what would be your personal quote be?
Oh that’s a tough one. The phrase that comes to mind is “Want it All”.
That phrase is why I have my toes dipped in so many wildly different projects. Sometimes I yearn for the simple days of just designing posters and printing posters, but truthfully there’s something inside of me that won’t let me just sit still. If an idea strikes me to make a custom poster frame, animate a PS1 inspired animatic for one of my favorite YouTube stars, or create a board game from the ground up, I feel compelled to make it a reality.
The Collectible World of Caddicarus
When you are not working on new designs what do you enjoy?
When I’m not designing I’m of two extreme mindsets. I’m either a couch potato who will binge an entire season or play the newest video game for a day. Or I’m out hiking with my german shepherd, paddle boarding, or cosplaying.
You are so passionate about working with charities can you share a bit about the charities you choose to work with and what you have done with them?
I lived in Las Vegas for a few years and frequented an amazing Cosplay Bar called Millenium Fandom where I met a group of cosplayers who visit hospitals dressed as superheros giving toys and comics to children. The charity was called Critical Care Comics.I immediately fell in love with this organization and joined as their resident Superman and eventually became a boardmember helping them grow using my unique set of skills.
We’re now really proud to say that Critical Care Comis offers the nations largest Cancer Survivor Scholarships. It’s our longterm goal that no child who has experienced cancer should ever have to pay for higher education.
Of course, I can’t take full credit for the rise of CCC. So much of the charities groth is in large thanks to the YouTube star Scott The Woz.
Over the years Scott and I have created some career-highlighting-products such as a VHS boxset, original officially licensed Monopoly and Clue games, Trading Cards, Retro Video Game boxsets and more. All proceeds of these profits have been donated to Critical Care Comics and Children’s Miracle Network.
"CLUE®: Scott the Woz Edition"
With appearing at more and more conventions this year what has been your biggest struggle and what advice can you give to artists who want to vend their designs at conventions?
The biggest struggle (and expensive) is definitely the travel aspect. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into making our setup as compact but impressive as possible. Especially when there are 5-6 conventions in a single weekend scattered across the country.
I could talk for hours about ways new artists could improve their displays and lower their travel expenses (maybe I will in another post). But a shortlist of advice is:
1. Display your best sellers in frames. It’s an added expense but it really helps customers visualize how your amazing art will look in their homes.
2. Have some sort of Buy X get Y Free deal. People love to hear the word free.
3. Invest in table cloths. It’s a chance to show off your branding and looks 100x more professional than a white folding table.
As an artist and business owner, what are your goals for Pixel Empire in the coming years?
I would love to see Pixel Empire attend every single comic, video game, and anime convention in the US (we’re already at 120 and counting), work with more and more YouTube stars to create limited edition unique products, and help create a platform for more and more artists to thrive.
Considering the many different directions we’re heading now I can only imagine what strange new ideas we’ll be pursuing in the coming years.