Keyboard Upcycle – Pixel Art Aesthetic

For my upcycle aesthetic, I would like to focus on the pixel art aesthetic. I was drawn to this aesthetic as the object I want to upcycle in a computer keyboard, and I want to reuse the keys to compose a piece of art. The genre that most closely matches artwork rendered from many small squares is pixel art.


Pixel art is art drawn with pixels as the only building block (1). Some characteristics of it are that it is usually “low resolution,” meaning that the art purposely omits detail. This is meant to evoke nostalgia from 8 and 16-bit computers and vintage video game consoles. Also, pixel art conventionally employs a limited color purpose to further mimic vintage computer art. Traditionally, pixel art is made using digital methods, however it can also be made in the analog world (3). A pixel can be represented by any small object. Some interesting examples of pixel art include artwork made from rubix cubes, shown below:

Since I’m aiming to upcycle an old keyboard, I found that the pixel art aesthetic fits my goal very well. The individual keys are all square, meaning that they can represent pixels. Using the keys from my upcycled keyboard, I will create a piece of pixel art. Below are  a few inspirations I had for my project:


(1) What is Pixel Art? – Definition from Techopedia”. 2022-05-26. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 2022-09-10.

(2) Lee, Cindy (2021). “Chapter 14: Best Practices for Pixel Art”. In Dillon, Roberto (ed.). The Digital Gaming Handbook (1st ed.). Boca Raton: CRC Press. pp. 275–286. ISBN 978-0-367-22384-7.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Alexander,
    I enjoyed learning about Pixel Art through reading your post, I would say it is an underrated aesthetic. Pixel Art is definitely a very creative and fitting way to upcycle an old keyboard. I was wondering how you plan on modeling your design. Would you create a digital model of it first? Or would you just draw up a sketch?

    • Alexandr Vassilyev
      February 14, 2023 9:38 am

      Hi Ali,
      Glad you enjoyed my post! I plan to first find an image I want to pixelize. After that, I’ll do a few sketches both digitally and by hand to get a good idea of how to lay out my project.

  • This has layers! I’ve seen so many old keyboards at garage sales, Goodwill, and even in the dumpster that are no longer useful because they use old hardware connections and obsolete data communication protocols. In the same way, pixel art was once a necessity for game consoles and computers before the technology existed to render them in higher resolution. Now it’s largely been replaced, at least in the mainstream. I’m curious how you intend to engage with the history of each in your piece. Also, do you plan on coloring the keys to achieve something like the first two pieces, or using them as they are, like in the bottom two?

    As a side note, I bet the folks at the Media Archaeology Lab would find this very cool. If you haven’t checked them out yet I’d highly recommend it!

    • Alexandr Vassilyev
      February 14, 2023 9:48 am

      Hi Anna,
      Thanks for reading my post! I’m glad you appreciate the history behind pixel art, and hopefully I can find some pixel art with historic background to recreate with the resources I have. I’m not sure whether I’ll color the keys yet, but I think it could be interesting if I leave the keyboard keys exposed to emphasize the source material.


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