Creating an alternate universe that brings to life classical composers with everyday humour.
By day, Thomas Lo works for a start-up business. By night, he is violinist with innovative chamber ensemble anon. and the brains behind Classical Pixel, a delightful venture that combines his passion for classical music with his penchant for digital discovery and design.
Classical Pixel is more than an online shop where classical music-lovers of all ages and interests can discover prints and stickers of their favourite composers, it is also a universe with a platform fighting game that pits classical composer against classical composer that is currently in development.
Here Thomas shares insights behind how he brought Classical Pixel to life.
One day Beethoven, Mozart and Bach all came knocking on my door.. just joking!
I've always wondered what Beethoven would look like - apart from that single portrait that you always see on Google Images. On a long plane ride to the US last year, I just started drawing on my pixel art app, and it snowballed from there.
My everyday work is in start-up, so it often gets quite intense quite quickly. I get inspired by products and shows around me quite a lot, and often wonder what the same object be like in the ClassicalPixel world. For example: A beanie in the shape of Mozart’s wig.
I try to find time in between meetings and before sleep to draw and code (the game) as much as I can. Finding people online who resonates with my silly music jokes definitely brings a lot of joy!
I am a violinist myself, performed my whole life while keeping a huge interest in creative arts and design. I always wanted to make classical music more accessible for anyone, which led to the start of my first venture anon. with Nicole Tj.
We both believe that Classical Music is very powerful and one way of showing that to more people is to reimagine the experience itself.
The Classical Pixel game came first. After the first drawing of Beethoven, the next step I took was to animate him. From there I wanted a more interactive way for people to engage with the composers, so the game very quickly grew from there.
I also did a lot of historical/biographical research on the composers! In my mind, the composers are so much more than just a still image, a name or even their pieces, I wanted the animated drawings to reflect their personal stories and have personality.
I started with a small collection of stickers and prints, but this is only the beginning and so many more ideas are brewing - t-shirts, notebooks, the game, 3D figures and perhaps educational resources for kids.
I want to bring classical music and composers to our everyday life, not only exclusively to classical music related events.
The first and foremost importance of ClassicalPixel is to design the characters and make sure they are each individually distinctive in their look and personality. This isn’t easy when you only have a few pixels to work with in trying to convey their expressions!
Once I got some enthusiastic requests from Instagram and Reddit communities for prints and stickers, I started to test print them for myself. I then looked for a printer/supplier to work with and figured out the costs - which was a bigger undertaking than I had envisioned.
From there, I created an online home for them to live in (a website), and a way for people to find them and take them home in small lovable products to spread the musical love!
I often imagine these little composers following me around and I love imagining how they would react to real life situations with their individual personalities.
For example: Think about Mozart (quick and cheeky) running towards a donut with Beethoven (dynamic and stern) pulling him back.
This helps me in furthering their personality and transferring them into their pixel art form. Having said that, sometimes the composers would guest author my emails and posts to help lighten my workload. So kudos to them!
The composers told me they have big dreams! Kids events, physical products, online education games. I really hope to build an alternative universe where I can bring to life as many composers, musical puns and hidden messages while keeping it fun and enjoyable - even if you don’t have prior musical knowledge!