Pantone Pixel Art

How a London Artist’s Leftover Pantone Chips Became Rehashed Versions of Iconic Imagery

Nick Smith Mona Lisa reduction
Having worked as a designer for the past 8 years, London based Nick Smith has long been accustomed to using Pantone colour guides as a method of comparing and communicating colour for his work.

One day in 2009, Nick began playing with a pile of unused Pantone chips collecting dust on his desk, firstly creating 8 bit style images like Space Invader, before progressing to greater works like Marilyn by Warhol and Van Gogh’s self portrait.

‘The scale of the image has to be right, and also the positioning of key parts of the image like the eyes,’ he told us, ‘so there is a bit of trial and error to get that looking correct.’

Moving ahead, Nick plans to experiment with larger pieces and then make a series of 6, ‘reducing the image in size with each artwork until the image is as small as it can get while still being recognisable.’ he tells us. ‘I recently did this with Mona Lisa and it looked great on the wall.’

Nick Smith Marilyn big blue
Nick Smith Marilyn big Pink
Wondering how he does it? Nick kindly told us how to recreate iconic works with pantone chips in 4 steps:

1. ‘I start by getting a digital image I want to recreate and then grid it up in Photoshop’

2. ‘I average out the colours in that grid effectively making a pixalised 8 bit version.’

3. ‘Some images work better than others at different scales so I’ll mess about with it on the computer for a bit until I am happy’

4. ‘I then print this out and match each colour by eye with a Pantone chip and stick it down on paper. I found it’s quicker and more hands on to do it by eye than by colour referencing Pantone colours using the computer.’

Nick Smith Girl with the pink earring
Nick Smith Van Gogh
Nick Smith Scream
Nick Smith Son of Man
Nick Smith Whistlejacket
Nick Smith Bigger Splash

Nick Smith’s Psycolourgy, is now on at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery in London, until February 21st.