Ken Sugimori

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Ken Sugimori
杉森 建
Born (1966-01-27) January 27, 1966 (age 56)
OccupationVideo game artist, director, game designer, illustrator
Years active1989–present
EmployerGame Freak
Notable work
Drill Dozer

Ken Sugimori (Japanese: 杉森 建, Hepburn: Sugimori Ken, born January 27, 1966 in Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese video game designer, illustrator, manga artist, and director.[1] He is best known as the primary character designer and art director for the Pokémon franchise. Sugimori is also credited with the art direction for other titles, including Pulseman.[2] Sugimori drew and finalized all of the original 151 Pokémon.[3] He has also worked on the various Pokémon films, trading cards, and other games like the Super Smash Bros. series.


From early 1981 until 1986, Sugimori illustrated a gaming fanzine called Game Freak, which had been started by Satoshi Tajiri.[3] Sugimori discovered the magazine in a dōjinshi shop, and decided to get involved.[4] Eventually, the two decided to pitch an arcade game design idea to Namco; they reworked Game Freak into a development company and produced Mendel Palace.[5] Sugimori is best known as the character designer and art director for the Pokémon franchise and designed the first 151 Pokémon with Atsuko Nishida, Motofumi Fujiwara, and Shigeki Morimoto. He has worked on the various Pokémon movies, trading cards, and other games.

For Pokémon Black and White, Sugimori directed a team of 17 people in designing new characters for the games, though he always drew the final designs. He drew much of his inspiration from observing animals in aquariums and zoos.[6] Sugimori has also written and illustrated original manga, including one which was distributed with pre-orders of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness.[7] When he begins a new character, his process normally involves making a rough sketch, then tracing it onto film paper while polishing it and making the illustration more professional looking. After that, he draws the character many times, changing its proportions until he is satisfied.[8] When designing a new Pokémon, Sugimori stated that "I do feel that I always want to show new Pokémon that people have never seen before. To do that, I think of ways that I can surprise the players."[9]



  1. ^ SATO (6 June 2014). "From Manga Artist To Game Designer: Ken Sugimori's Work Before Pokémon". Siliconera.
  2. ^ Thomas, Lucas (23 July 2009). "Pulseman Review". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  3. ^ a b Gifford, Kevin (7 April 2008). "'Game Mag Weaseling': Just Checking In". GameSetWatch. Think Services. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  4. ^ Kohler, Chris (2004). Power-up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life. BradyGames. p. 238. ISBN 0-7440-0424-1.
  5. ^ Barnholt, Ray (30 July 2008). "25 Sorta Significant Famicom Games: #19". UGO Networks. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  6. ^ Iwata, Satoru (2010). "DSで2作目の完全新作をつくること". Iwata Asks (in Japanese). Kyoto, Japan: Nintendo. p. 2. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  7. ^ Staff (13 March 2008). "Pokemon Pre-Order Offer". IGN. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  8. ^ Bishop, Stuart (30 May 2003). "Nintendo Interview: Game Freak on Pokemon!". Computer and Video Games. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  9. ^ Shepperd, Chris (May 2017). "Pearls of Wisdom". Nintendo Power. No. 215. Nintendo.

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