Meet our latest collaborator, the force of nature behind the masks.
Kayden Phyfer is 6. He is an ex Elvis fan who currently defines his essence as being a Michael Jackson fan, having recently transitioned from the king of rock to a full blown obsession with the king of pop. He is also obsessed with all things videogame and comic related and you’d be hard pressed to find a kid anywhere near Kayden’s age with such an astute appreciation for pop culture, reaching back decades before his time.
We had the concept for the pixel masks for our SA Menswear Week show and thought that minecraft characters would work effectively. They are essentially cubes and are quite striking and already have a 3d aesthetic, plus their iconic status in video game culture has seen them transcend into the pop culture arena having become synonymous with indi and lo-fi gaming. We also knew they would work on a human scale and we were right. We could lie and say that we wanted to make a statement about how we represent ourselves digitally using pixels through social media and we wanted to question the cultural hegemony around beauty and our society’s obsession with youth and physical beauty, but the truth is we just wanted to see video game characters on a catwalk.
Minecraft is weird, it’s not meant to be understood by adults. You need to put in work and do tutorials which takes a lot of time, so in reality the only demographic who really do have the resources to do this is the kids. As illustrated by a South Park episode where a kid, Cory Landskin, breaks the the kid code by giving secret Minecraft lessons to the adults in his town.
Anyway, we thought instead of infringing on their territory lets collaborate with somebody who is a kid and who already does pixel art in minecraft. So I met with Kayden’s dad boeta phyf to see what he thought and while we were saying a long goodbye standing at the car chatting, Kayden had already completed one of the faces. The rest is history….
Here’s a little interview we did with Kayden who we will definitely be working with in the future!
How would you describe yourself?
I’ll describe myself as a Michael Jackson fan
I like Michael Jackson more than elvis now
How long have you been playing minecraft for?
I Started when I was 4 years old
I play every day
How did you get into minecraft?
Asked my mom how do you play this! how do you play this ? and then
My dad found youtube minecraft tutorials
You first have to learn what different blocks do
My favourite block is a tnt block!
What do you like about making art in minecraft?
Do u prefer drawing by hand or making stuff in minecraft or do you think it’s the same thing?
(Kayden shows me this drawing he did on graph paper)
I Made this thing out of pixel paper its kind of like minecraft (shows grid paper artwork) (kids already thinking in pixels even when hes drawing)
Who is your favourite comicbook or cartoon character and why?
I like spongebob, tell you why because I like his laugh. Daaaaa
Minecraft of course.
I’m good at playing ipad games because I started when I was small, if you start from a young age your fingers get better
Do you think video games teach you anything?
No. how to build stuff
What do you u want to be when you grow up?
Painter. I painted that thing there (points to MJ portrait)
Dads in the room have to ask you this question while he’s here
What do u think of your dads art?
It’s the greatest, best I’ve ever seen,. dad put them up in the gallery, ninja turtles in the gallery. I went with him to that gallery
Do you listen to mj when you make art or do u just focus on that thing?
When I do tutorials there’s music playing in the background so I listen to that
We then have long discussion about Michael jackson’s mystical air lean from smooth criminal and how he did it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVkMbtOa0j4
Working with kayden was so refreshing and getting to see how he sees things has inspired us to regain that childlike, inquiring mind that we tend to lose as we age.
Special thanks to Kayden and his dad Boeta Phyf for welcoming us into their home, and special mention to Taariq Latiff for the images!