I'm very proud to announce that 2020's Artist of the Year award goes to Philippines designer Dan Elijah Fajardo!
It was a neck and neck race all throughout December between three different artists, but the definitive winner not only goes to the artist with the most sales, but also the most new design uploads.
Despite everything that 2020 threw at us, the one constant throughout the year was that Dan would drop a new rockstar design each week. Ranging from Baby Yoda, Cobra Kai and Final Fantasy to original pieces like surreal nature paintings and vintage Japanese style portraits, Dan Elijah Fajardo is a one-man-designing-machine.
I also had the pleasure of interviewing him this past week about his favorite designs, his process, and plans for the new year.
I've seen your incredible art circulating the internet long before Pixel Empire was founded. At what point did you decide to pursue designing full time?
I started to go full time back 2012 when I joining online T-Shirt competitions like Threadless and Designbyhumans and it helps me a lot to develop my style of art and what Im doing today.
You consistently create more designs each month than any other artist on Pixel Empire. How do you stay motivated to design so much?
My goal is to make 4 to 5 designs per month and I stay motivated watching TED talks and new series on Netflix and, of course, my family!
One of your bestselling designs this year was your set of Final Fantasy and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure designs. What inspired you to include the Japanese "Ukiyo-e" elements to this classic video game and anime series?
I love that series too! A fan on instagram sent me a direct message requesting for a Final Fantasy design and during that time I'm in love on the vintage Japanese art and stuffs that why I incorporated that style on that classic video game series.
I really love your Pokémon Evolution set. Did you design these with the intention of making more in the same style, or did it just happen after you struck gold with the first design?
Glad you liked them! That was actually one of my favorite series of designs. I was fascinated by the game since I was a teenager and I very happy that I came up with a set of designs to match my style.
What would you consider to be your favorite design you created in the past year and why? I know that's probably tricky to answer considering there are so many to choose from.
My all time favorite was my Legend of Zelda inspired designs "Its Dangerous to go Alone" and Dragon Ball Z "Beautiful Sunset" because you can tell that those are my designs because of the negative space style. Those are my best selling designs too!
In addition to your many pop culture-inspired designs, you also have a huge collection of original nature and surrealist paintings. What is your inspiration for these original pieces?
I started to paint at the first stage of my career before I shifted into digital arts. I used to paint surreal and whimsical themes. Thats why I also apply that concept on tshirts and used it as a canvass.
Are there any artists that you'd like to shout out that inspire you?
Vincent Trinidad! My bff since our college days. We took fine arts together.
Have you ever had the opportunity to sell your designs in person at conventions? Obviously not this past year, of course.
I would like to try it soon!!!!
Do you have any new designs you'd like to talk about?
2021 would be new to me because I want to try new style and make more original artworks than pop culture theme.
Do you have any parting advice for all of the aspiring graphic artists out there?
Just keep going and go with the flow. Do what you love and making money from it is just the bonus.
One last question, if you could go back to before you sold your first design online, what would you do differently?
I like to do more original concepts and fine arts.
Well there you have it. Be sure to check back soon for more amazing designs from Dan Elijah Fajardo. In the meantime: