Creator of “Realistic Pokémon” art over on DeviantArt, RJ Palmer has revealed that following his art blowing up online, he was hired for concept work for Detective Pikachu.
Pokemon fans are no strangers to artistic reinterpretation of their favorite characters, so when the official trailer for Detective Pikachu dropped, they were treated to (or tortured by) some the most realistic depictions of Pokemon to date. As the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, it’s fair to expect it’s audience to regularly churn out fan art. It’s also fair to say The Pokemon Company is primed to take some artistic risks of their own, even on the big screen.
What could have been another hot mess of cartoon-to-CGI madness actually appears charmingly original, without going too off the rails from it’s source content to look unfamiliar. This is the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to seeing Pokemon walking (and talking) with real-world folks, but it’s far from the first time such fantasies have been brought to life. Legendary Pictures, the production company behind Detective Pikachu, understands it’s fandom’s proclivity for professional-grade fanart; after scouting the internet for talent, producers happened upon artist RJ Palmer, who was brought on board to assist in official designs for the film.
Palmer, an artist for Ubisoft San Francisco, has previously worked on concept art for Disney Publishing and various other properties including Star Wars, Warhammer, and Call of Cthulu. But it was through his realistic reinterpretation of classic Pokémon that he landed his first box office project, confirming through Twitter that some of his designs even made it in to the official trailer. When Palmer’s artwork from 2012 and 2013 showed up in producers Google searches for “realistic Pokemon“, he was contacted and brought on board for official concept work. If ever any artists needed justification for putting themselves out there, let this be the perfect case – you never know who’s on the lookout for the most weirdly specific stuff.
If you’re into the new, real feel of Pokémon, you can thank Palmer – or if that Mr. Mime creeps you out as much as it does me, you can blame him for your nightmares. Given the mix of real actors and CGI, along with Ryan Reynold’s familiar voice behind the film’s titular Pikachu, the project’s aesthetic is looking more like a hit than a miss.
Generally speaking, if it’s got the name Pokémon attached, it’s gonna be super effective in regards to making profit, but if you’d like to support the artist behind this new spin, more of Palmer’s work can be found at his official website, on Twitter, or through livestreams via Twitch.