The Man Who Creates Pokémon For A Living

Ken Sugimori may not be a household name, but the monsters that have flowed forth from his sketchbook certainly are.

You see, Sugimori designs Pokémon.

He’s been involved with the mega-popular franchise from day one, having forged a friendship with Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri in the 1980s, when the pair both worked on a gaming zine called Game Freak (which is now the name of the Pokémon development company).

Sugimori designed all 151 of the original Pokémon, featured in the series’ first game in 1995, and though over the years he has moved onto different roles within the company, he remains closely involved with the design and creation of Pokémon creatures.

As an example, while the original 151 were personally designed and drawn by Sugimori, by 2010 and Pokémon Black & White he was leading a large art team, who all worked on creating new creatures for the game. Despite this, Sugimori had the final say on designs, and all final character art was still his sole responsibility, maintaining a tradition that has seen every piece of official Pokémon creature and character art come straight from Sugimori’s pen (or computer).

It’s not just the games he’s worked on, either, as he has been responsible for art on everything from the franchise’s trading cards to its merchandise and movies as well.

In the gallery above you’ll find examples of Sugimori’s early work, consisting mostly of concept art for the original Pokémon game (all courtesy of Proto1 @ U64), as well as character art for the first generation of Pokémon (courtesy of Bulbagarden).

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