Mustafa Abdelfattah, Sanmeet Chahil, Tristan Santos


Pixelated Album Tattoos

For this assignment we all had a common interest in music and the pixel aesthetic, and wanted to ultimately posterize our favourite albums and artists as a wearable tattoo. As a result, we represented artist album covers through a pixel generating code sketch that corresponded the clarity of the album cover through however many tracks are on the album – for example, if an album has 16 tracks the pixel size will be 16 by 16. In order to convey the audio aspect of an album, we branched into three different audio representations; Sanmeet experimented by adding a Spotify scannable code that showcases all of the artists albums, Tristan experimented with overlaying an audio file from the album through a waveform, and Mustafa added a visual frequency spectrum at the bottom of the artwork. Ultimately, we had converted a 2D image created using code to the physical world as a temporary tattoo.


Tattoo Location

Left Forearm

With regard to as of why we chose to place majority of our tattoos on our left forearm, we all naturally gravitated towards that placement. It is a place on your body that you can see personally when your palms are facing upwards, and when they face upwards we feel as if it’s a sense of introspection. As a result, we will be able to see the tattoo. Music to us drives our lives and keeps us moving in life, even when times are rough. Music is a tool that fuels our emotions, and even our actions to a certain degree. Therefore, the left arm is closer to our heart and signifies a strong connection. Tristan made his tattoo have its top orientation away from his body, so if he were to extend his arms then people would be able to see the tattoo in its correct orientation – as long it’s not covered by clothing. Mustafa played with the position of his tattoo right under his left wrist, and through its triangular shape it gives a sense of pointing towards his palm. Sanmeet placed one of his tattoos on his forearm as well, but Mustafa and Sanmeet ensured that the tattoo was facing them. If others were to see the tattoo, it would be upside down to them but the correct orientation to us.


Back of Left Hand

What Sanmeet did specially was place the Kanye West tattoo on the back of his left hand. The reasoning to as of why he decided to place it there was solely based on interaction. People would see the tattoo and be curious to as of what is it due to its pixelated nature, and as a result he would point to his ear. This signifies the action to listen to something, and as the tattoo would be in its correct orientation, people would be able to scan the Spotify code. Therefore, the left hand combination with the easy visibility results in the increased possibility of people scanning the Spotify code and listening in on his music. As its a temporary tattoo, Sanmeet could create a playlist of my life and music I enjoy and have other people join in on his favourite tracks and listen along.


Processing Code

Click here for the GitHub repository.




When we initially started to think of a cool idea for what we can draw on canvas and make into a tattoo, we began with showing sketches of things we’ve discovered in the first part of the experiment. Sanmeet showed his pixel generator sketch, and immediately we realized that we could make that into a tattoo. We analyzed each of our interests on what exactly we wanted to make into a tattoo, and we all generally gravitated towards music. Naturally, we thought of a way we could posterize music and artists and their albums into a tattoo that would convey our interests to others. Tristan then showcased his knowledge with the minim sound library, and we realized that we could also include the audio aspect of music through a waveform.



We began hacking at the code and discovered many cool ways to draw things onto the canvas. For example, instead of just drawing in 2D, we declared the canvas in P3D and began to use the rotate function for the X, Y, and Z axis (find this example under the experimentation section in the GitHub repository). This yielded interesting results, with regard to the position of the mouse!


While thinking of a way to introduce audio to the tattoo, we discovered mic input, waveforms, and spectrums. Going ahead with our ideas, we made it to the final iteration of our tattoos.


Final Iteration


I had used Kanye West and all of his albums to create a square tattoo with the pixalbum code, and also the pixalbum waveform code to make a tattoo using Travis Scott and his album “Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight”.

For the Kanye West Tattoo, I had created a discography of all his albums, and represented each album in its simplest bit form through the pixel generator code. The albums and their respective pixel sizes are; The College Dropout – 21, Late Registration – 21, Graduation – 13, 808s & Heartbreak – 12, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – 13, Watch The Throne – 12, Yeezus – 10, & The Life of Pablo – 20. To top it all off, I added an image of Kanye West and gave it the pixel depth of 8, representing the total number of his albums.

In order to make the piece more interactive, I thought of including a Spotify scannable code, which opens up a playlist linking to all of the songs I enjoy the most from his albums.


With regard to the second Travis Scott tattoo, I had used the pixalbum waveform code and his album “Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight” which had 14 tracks. Using the minim sound library, I played “Goosebumps” over it and took a screenshot of the most interesting waveform instance.



I ended up going with the pixalbum waveform sketch and usedFrank Ocean’s album, “Blonde”. The album has 17 tracks, so the pixels were 17 by 17. I overlaid the waveform of the track “Pink + White”, and in the end got an aesthetically pleasing visual.



For the final iteration of the design, I had created a tattoo using the pixalbum waveform and also pixalbum spectrum sketch using Kendrick Lamar’s album “DAMN.”, which has 14 tracks. For both the waveform and the spectrum I used the track “GOD.”, and took screenshots where the waveform and spectrum were the best.



Tattoo Result

Once we were done test printing the tattoos a few times, we flipped the tattoo to display correctly and got right to printing. As we printed onto the special tattoo paper, the colours came out correctly vivid and saturated. The pixelation aspect of the albums came through really nicely, and the waveform itself over the albums gave it a nice sense of depth and gave it its own type of aesthetic effect. The overall experience was really enjoyable because we’ve ultimately changed data from sound and images on visual 2D screens to a physical material in the world – bringing digital imagery to a different medium.


After applying the tattoos on our bodies, certain colours were more visible than others. That is because where most of our tattoos were meant to express the colour white, it turned into the tone of our skin. Therefore, all other colours other than white were the ones that were more defined on our bodies, and the white backgrounds became transparent.



To conclude, our passion for music embodied and took control of this experiment and allowed us to express our mutual interests through the usage of tattoos. We learned how to overlay waveforms and spectrums using minim, and create aesthetically pleasing images through processing with PImage, nested for loops, and loadPixels. To improve further improve the tattoos, we plan on compensating the colour discrepancies with the shade of white by replacing it with other colours, or by finding a method to print white ink onto the special paper. As a collective, we should experiment more with the aesthetics of pixelation and utilize more parameters to increase/effect the image quality, like how much music is streamed and the mass consumption of albums. One more idea we have for the future is to create a compilation of all the music we like as people, and making a tattoo that has our favourite album covers over it and adding a Spotify code or QR code that links to a playlist of our favourite music that we can update later on whenever in our lives.

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