Pixel graphics to cure headaches

Watch Dohee Kim's excellent new pixel graphics-inspired commercials for Aspirina and Ikea

Do you love pixel art? Do you ever find yourself pining for the kind of sprite graphics seen in Commodore 64 games of the mid-80s? Or maybe you miss those late-90s mobile phone games that employed simply animated pixel graphics. If so you'll definitely enjoy two lo-fi commercials created by up-and-coming motion graphics whiz Dohee Kim. Her latest works for Ikea and Aspirina are so well disguised as relics of that bygone era that you'll be jittering in 8-bit.

Do you ever find yourself pining for the kind of sprite graphics seen in Commodore 64 games of the mid-80s? Or maybe you miss those late-90s mobile phone games that employed simply animated pixel graphics. If so you'll definitely enjoy two lo-fi commercials created by up-and-coming motion graphics whiz Dohee Kim. Her latest works for Ikea and Aspirina are so well disguised as relics of that bygone era that you'll be jittering in 8-bit.

The work came about has part of an event sponsored by YouTube and TBWA Italy last month. They invited young motion graphics designers from around the world to create online ads for the top 100 brands in Italy for an event in Milan. Kim chose the pixel graphics aesthetic for two of the three briefs she was given.

"I was totally free to design it," says the 26-year-old New York-based creative. "It's hard to create images one pixel at a time, also it took a long time to create. However, I think I kind of enjoy the hard work in a way."

Still frame of animated icons in Aspirina ad

The Aspirina commercial - whilst visually amusing - depicts some of the things in life that will give you a headache, which the product can cure. For Kim, finding the right balance between annoying and amusing is what steered the project.

"I had many ideas such as rotten teeth, fatty foods, grumbling people, insects, noise, computers that freeze, money worries and so forth," she explains. "I designed all sorts of annoying characters to show stress and dizziness. I thought that if I designed them too realistically, it would be too serious and boring. So I decided to create it with pixel graphics to add some fun to the icons. You might find some hidden fun characters as well, such as a UFO, melting ice cream, small breasts and butts."

The effect is underscored by the bleepy music, with its sawtoothed bass noises.

The Korean-born designer's Ikea ad is very different. The basic nature of the pixel graphics here relates somewhat to Ikea's simple approach to design, while the story shows how the company's products fit into all aspects of the modern lifestyle.

Dohee Kim is influenced by all sorts of different digital and analogue styles of artwork, but don't be surprised if pixel graphics pop up in future work. "I've been fascinated by Egyptian wall-painting and ancient African art since I was little, and personally, I love patterned and simplified design. For this project, I was inspired by 80s and 90s design, and 8-bit games, such as Super Mario and Galaga. I think the pixel graphics give a lot of fun, just like playing a real game."