Pokemon Card Production and the Artists Behind the Design

Pokemon Card Production and the Artists Behind the Design

Designing Pokémon cards is an intricate process that blends creativity with strategic thinking, aimed at capturing the essence of these beloved creatures while ensuring gameplay balance and aesthetic appeal. Whether you're a seasoned designer or an aspiring artist stepping into the Pokémon universe for the first time, embarking on this journey begins with a deep understanding of the Pokémon world, familiarity with existing card designs, and a passion for bringing these fantastical creatures to life in a tangible and captivating form. From conceptualizing Pokémon characters to crafting captivating card layouts, the realm of Pokémon card design offers boundless opportunities for creativity and innovation.

The Pokémon Company selects their artists through a combination of talent scouting, portfolio review, and established partnerships. Here's a breakdown of how they typically choose each artist:

  • Talent Scouting: The Pokémon Company actively scouts for talented artists within various artistic communities, including illustration, graphic design, and animation. They may attend art exhibitions, conventions, and online platforms to discover emerging talents or established professionals whose style aligns with the Pokémon brand.
  • Portfolio Review: Artists interested in working with the Pokémon Company often submit their portfolios for review. These portfolios showcase their artistic skills, including examples of character design, illustration, and graphic layout. The Pokémon Company carefully evaluates each portfolio to assess the artist's proficiency, creativity, and ability to capture the essence of Pokémon characters.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations: The Pokémon Company also collaborates with established artists and design studios who have a proven track record of creating compelling artwork. These partnerships may involve commissioned projects, such as designing promotional artwork, creating illustrations for merchandise, or contributing to trading card sets.
  • Style and Vision Alignment: One of the key criteria for selecting artists is ensuring that their artistic style aligns with the Pokémon brand and vision. The Pokémon Company looks for artists who can bring a fresh perspective to the Pokémon world while staying true to its core themes and aesthetics.
  • Diversity and Representation: The Pokémon Company values diversity and representation in its creative team. They seek artists from diverse backgrounds and cultures to bring a range of perspectives and experiences to their artwork, ensuring inclusivity and resonance with a global audience.

The Pokémon Company's selection process for artists is driven by a commitment to finding talented individuals who can contribute to the rich and vibrant world of Pokémon through their creativity, skill, and passion for the franchise.

- Mitsuhiro Arita (above) is known as one of the most infamous Pokemon Card illustrators. He is responsible for designing the iconic base set Charizard artwork. He has designed over 620 Pokemon cards and is currently still designing for Pokémon despite their wide variety of new artists.

Once the artist has created their portfolio, the Pokémon cards are produced through a multi-step process involving design, printing, cutting, packaging, and distribution. It is important to note that almost all Pokemon cards are designed to be released in Japan before they make their way over to North America. Here's a general overview of how Pokémon cards are made:

  • Design: The design process involves creating the artwork, layout, and text for the cards. This includes the Pokémon character artwork, card borders, text boxes, and any special effects. Each artist creates their own portfolio for every new pokemon set that is set to be released. 
  • Approval: The designs are then reviewed and approved by both The Pokémon Company and Nintendo to ensure they meet quality and brand standards.
  • Printing: Once approved, the designs are sent to printing facilities. Pokémon cards are typically printed on large sheets, with multiple cards printed on each sheet. The printing process involves applying ink to the sheets using offset or digital printing techniques.
  • Cutting: After printing, the sheets are cut into individual cards. This is often done using automated cutting machines that precisely cut along the edges of each card. Many of these sheets have been left uncut and have been sold privately as rare collectibles.
  • Packaging: Once cut, the cards are sorted and packaged into booster packs, theme decks, or other products. Booster packs typically contain a random assortment of cards, while theme decks contain a predetermined set of cards centered around a specific theme or Pokémon.
  • Quality Control: Throughout the production process, quality control measures are implemented to ensure that the cards meet quality standards. This includes checking for printing errors, such as misprints or colour inconsistencies.
  • Distribution: Once packaged, the Pokémon cards are shipped to retailers and distributors around the world for sale to consumers..

The above picture is an example of an uncut sheet of Pokemon cards from 1999. This sheet is an example of what comes out of the factory press and is then cut precisely into individual cards. These uncut sheets can be salvaged and sold for lot's of money on the secondary market due to their rarity.

Overall, the production of Pokémon trading cards is a meticulous and collaborative endeavour that encompasses various stages, from initial design to distribution. Each step in the process, from the creation of captivating artwork to the precise printing and packaging of cards, contributes to the enchanting world of Pokémon and the immersive experience enjoyed by collectors and players alike. With careful attention to detail and a commitment to quality, the Pokémon Company continues to deliver a diverse array of cards that captivate imaginations and inspire countless adventures. As Pokémon trading cards continue to evolve and enchant generations of fans worldwide, their production remains a testament to the enduring magic of this iconic franchise.

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