My experience has gone from being pretty shit, to being fairly adequate at handling pixels. My experience has basically first come from trying to copy sprites from old magazines or screenshots, or basically looking at as many graphics for inspiration as possible, NES/MS/MD/SNES/Amiga/GB/GBA/DS, trying to gauge what works and doesn't. Also, I've looked at various pixel forums, I've posted art on Pixelation and PixelJoint a couple of times, and general art Oekaki boards like 2draw that have generally given brilliant criticism to work I've thought I could never do better.
If you want to find an easy way to do it, you either have to be born with an innate ability (in that case you shouldn't be asking the question) or you have to work hard at your craft and learn it (so in that case it isn't easy at all). I'm sure if you look at Hayo or Adam's older work it wasn't as good as it is now, they are constantly improving.
The best thing to do is to post stuff on something like PixelJoint, you may find you have just completely neglected the idea of anatomy (and so learn about scaling), or have not fully thought about how the sprite is shaded (and so learn about lighting), or how the colours do not fit together (and so learn about the colour wheel etc.). All until you get to a point comfortable enough where criticisms are purely based on taste or minor faults.
So yeh, if you want to get better, take time, and you will. If you want an easy way, you will probably make a few good sprites copying someone else, then get worse.
I think Alonso Martin is one of the best Pixel artists I speak to <3 In terms of creating an atmostphere and some nicely detailed work . I like Hayo's work because it has a very professional feel and it's nice, crisp and colourful <3. Sylvain's work I love,its quite unique to him and he can animate sprites very nicely indeed <3.
Jay Frudy and Bibin have improved alot in a year, even if Jay does draw giant, perverted cat women stamping on goats Furry Porn FTW
Edit: Mr James is also very good, Tormishire has a great atmostphere <3
Jimbob is totally right, the only way to get good at this is by practicing and looking at stuff alot. I might be one of the good spriters in this community, but when I visit sites like the pixeljoint I know I still have a long long way to go. My anatomy sucks, my backgrounds suck and my use of contrast sucks compared to what some people there can do. Just keep in mind it's fun as long as you are learning
Piss to Pixeljoint, people spend hours on one piece on there, Im sure you or alot of good game-spriters could achieve that if you spent hours too, Im not prepared to spend more than an hour on a small backdrop, but from now on I think I might
Also, I used to buy the nintendo magazine, in the middle there was a little paper magazine with gameboy colour and advance game screenshots in it that's where I started to learn, still have miles to go.
I've been living in the shadow of Ryan Wheeler/Biax for a while. I sent him a screenshot of the super early Tormishire (back when I used the Sam placeholder sprite) and he went through 8 or so steps of improving it. He's an absolute artistic genius so I'm dead chuffed to have him help me along. I still find it really hard to make large backgrounds which is why I started up that giant 1680*1050 pixel art graphic to practice super scale images and texture and stuff.