A glitch in the system: TURBOGAMMA

9 January 2021 di ejan

This post is also available in: Italiano

TURBOGAMMA is, nowadays, a well-known, notorious name in the italian pixel art and lo-fi world.

After drawing attention to himself with phenomenal illustrations, retro but never nostalgic, and video collaborations with chiptune artists (such as BUSKERDROID), today he is here with us to talk to us about his latest work, “GLITCH”.


E_ Hello TURBOGAMMA! This is the second time for you here on 8-b.it Italy (we have already interviewed TURBOGAMMA in the past asking him to tell us about his splendid pixel art http://www.8-b.it/2018/01/ the-pixel-art-of-turbogamma /)

A great deal of water has flowed under the bridge since then.

There are news, in the world, but especiallu in your artistic production, for which we are here today; one of these is definitely the color. Why this choice of language (r)evolution?

Adding the color is definitely not a small choice.

T_ Hi, thank you for lending me your space again.

The use of color came by itself: thinking about how to better convey the glitch aesthetic of the drawings for this artbook, the use of color came out of the blue and totally changed the perspective of my pixel art; it has given greater body and three-dimensionality (as well as being functional to the artbook). I believe that in reality the arrival of color was a long unconscious process, in the background, which sooner or later had to culminate with the drawings I am making now.

TURBOGAMMA, April 2020.

E_ Color you used in your brand new, freshly released art book.

Would you mind tell us a little about it?

T_ The new art book is called GLITCH and, as the name suggests, it offers a collection of 20 drawings, published on instagram or unpublished, which have as a current theme “faces of characters (purely indebted to the ‘70/80s manga aesthetics) wholly glitched” and all drawn between December 2019 and all of 2020.

Initially the “glitch” was supposed to be the only disturbing element in these physiognomies, but as the drawings proceeded, more and more elements were inserted (pieces of metal, blood) that added more three-dimensionality to them.

The result surprised me too, and it still amuses me to see how the latest drawings are so different from the first ones. Precisely for this reason, half of the drawings in the artbook (which were originally drawn in black and white) have been recolored. Like a new skin.

The artbook is all in color. Another “extra” in GLITCH, compared to the old artbook, is that the subjects are brand new (except for some tributes, such as the Tomie one): I did not want to play on well-known faces of anime and manga but to explore a “vision” of my own.

E_ Your previous art book, all in b/w, was titled “bootleg”.

For the uninitiated, bootleg can refer to “illegal” recordings of concerts, sold under the counter or to badly released, deformed versions of small objects, such as action figures.

What did you want to communicate with this name?

T_ In BOOTLEG all the drawn subjects (that, such as in GLITCH were deformed and “unraveled” in various ways) were all well and lesser-known characters of anime and manga at the turn of the ’70s /’ 80s, there was no “original” subject ” and I saw a connection with that movement of illegal reproductions of famous brands/merchandising/bands (bootlegs in fact).

Above all I wanted to show how interesting it is to create new art, but that it is even more interesting to create new art starting from the existing one; bootlegs also do that unintentionally.

TURBOGAMMA, Tribute to Tomie, Dicembre 2020.

E_ Can we find this concept again in the new work?

T_ Not really. In GLITCH the subjects are “unedited” (clearly influenced by manga and anime) while in BOOTLEG they were all “published”. I took this new artbook more lightly, without wanting to convey particular messages. On balance, it is more of a style exercise, but it satisfies me a lot.

E_ After years of working in the world of pixel art, which was initially a way for you to be able to combine efficiency with speed of execution, how do you feel with this medium? Are you still fascinated by it in the same way?

How did it change you and HOW DID YOU CHANGE IT?

T_ Like all things that become part of your life and that fit into a routine, even pixel art has lost for me the “mysterious” charm it once had, especially at the beginning:you can easily imagine that I didn’t know how do it, while now it has no secrets.

At a certain point I also started drawing “normal”, not in pixel art, because I felt the need to change a bit. But pixel art always comes back to me as a wave, and always comes back with great momentum, opening up possibilities that I couldn’t have thought!

So yes, the initial impact went down, but the passion didn’t.

E_ What is the most interesting discovery you have made? Whether it is a poetic discovery or a purely technical one (you managed to figure out how to do something that you couldn’t before, to optimize a type of line, of subject)…

T_ Well, the first lesson is having switched to iPad, which is the least suitable tool for making pixel art, but at the same time I can’t comprehend why it’s an environment in which I’m hyper productive, it takes me half the time to finish the same tasks.

Maybe because I don’t have any distractions, it’s just me and the iPad, I don’t know.

The second is to have “tamed” the dithering (making shades and shadow games by sharpening single pixels in succession to have a “half-tone effect”) for the cuts of light which, having passed to the color from the flat colors of white and black, must be considered and tamed. Without an art school education it seems to me a very good result.

E_ Following the previous question: a curiosity related to an illustration/graphic of the last work? And also, a frustrating moment (I can imagine there are many, perhaps related to the timing of realization or to particular details) that you had to face?

T_ I will maybe fall into banality, but a frustrating moment was and still is the Covid situation. I am one of those hypochondriac people with a bit of a fixation on controlling things as much as possible, and the pandemic has destroyed all my daily life.

Especially in the first real lockdown I was psychologically flattened for a whole series of reasons (both work and personal) and having this feeling of uncertainty really blew me away. I was seriously close to cease everything and delete TURBOGAMMA permanently. The fact that GLITCH is materially made is a victory. I have to thank my girlfriend who always believes in me and who encouraged me to finish the artbook, in dark times having people close is not a given. This is also trivial to say but it is true.

TURBOGAMMA, speed painting

E_ The last time we concluded your interview by asking you what suggestions you would have given to those who want to approach pixel art for the first time; today instead I ask you: how do you think it can evolve even more?

By now there are several artists who, perhaps even following the advice you have given, have experimented with pixel art as an autonomous form of art, disconnected from the world of video games, elevating it to a real mean of expression with its own dignity; how can you “force” your hand even more, to go even further?

T_ I have also noticed that since I have carried on TURBOGAMMA, in particular after the first artbook, some people have approached pixel art as a mean of art unrelated to the medium videogames: they also write to me in private and I always like to answer / give them technical tips.

To answer the question: I don’t know. I reflected on it throughout 2019 on how to take the next step, how to further evolve pixel art, and I realized that everything must be linked to the artist and what he wants to do. It is not necessary to always overcome the barrier of the medium but to be clear where you want to go, as in all forms of art. In my case, with the new artbook, I just had to change the cards on the table, not change the game.

TURBOGAMMA on Instagram:

Where to get GLITCH artbook:

♫ And this is the artist playlist for you to enjoy! ♫

1) Bring Me The Horizon – Crucify Me

2) Korn – Here to Stay

3) Kalmah – Swamphell

4) Stromae – Carmen

5) HIM – The Beginning Of The End

6) Fast Animals and Slow Kids – Coperta

7) SQÜRL – Pink Dust

8) Linkin Park – Figure.09

9) t.A.T.u – All The Things She Said

10) Guano Apes – Lords Of The Boards

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