RetroVision – The Art of Pokémon

Sometimes a picture tells a thousand words, and Ken Sugimori is a man who has made his name by doing exactly that.  Famed for his iconic and long standing work on the Pokemon franchise, Sugimori not only designed all 151 of the original Pokémon himself, but has even created many of the subsequent Pokémon, alongside illustrating the trading cards, and developing conceptual artwork for the anime and movies.  He has also been in charge of the art direction for every game in the series, guiding the creation of all subsequent Pokémon alongside the worlds they inhabit.

Ken Sugimori signing a Pokémon Trading Card

He first became involved with Game Freak in the 1980s, when he joined Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri on working on the gaming fanzine titled Game Freak.  This magazine would go on to become the name of the company behind Pokémon, and whilst Sugimori has been involved in many of their projects, he has become entirely synonymous with Pokémon, beginning with the games that started the craze Pokémon Red, Green & Blue. Whilst his art style may have evolved over the years, in true retro fashion and in the spirit of letting the pictures do the talking, let me present to you some of the original concept art for one of gaming’s most iconic franchises, Pokémon.

Capsule Monsters
An original drawing with the original working title for the game, Capsule Monsters.

Pokemon Battles
Original Pokémon designs featuring Slower, Gastly, Blastoise and Staryu.

Pokemon Lapras
Riding on top of Lapras.

Pokemon Town
An early Pokémon town featuring a Rhyhorn drinking from a fountain.

Pokemon Around Town
Images of travelling Pokémon trainers. Interestingly both male and female despite female trainers not being introduced until later.

Pokeball Art
Pokéball concept art

Rejected designs that would later become Pokémon. Fan favourite Tyranitar is featured in this image.

Red & Blue
The lead characters of Red, Blue, Pikachu and Charizard, signed by Ken Sugimori in 1996.

Pikachu Over Time
The evolution of Sugimori’s most famous creation, the series mascot Pikachu.

So there you have it.  Satoshi Tajiri created the much loved franchise, but much of what we know would certainly not have been possible without the designs of Ken Sugimori.  From Pikachu to Charizard, anyone who loves Pokémon has a lot to thank both of these men for.  We hope you enjoyed seeing some of this rare original Pokémon artwork from a true master of design.

Sugimori All Pokemon Art
All 151 of the Pokémon Sugimori designed for Pokémon Red / Green / Blue.

Sophia Aubrey Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she's written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DivaXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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