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Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield Series Artist Debuts
Meet some of the artists who made a powerful first impression with their Pokémon TCG cards.
As the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield Series comes to an end, making way for a newly discovered region, it’s the perfect time to celebrate some of the artists who made their debut. Following its launch in February 2020, the series introduced the world to Battle Styles and launched the highly adorable Trainer Gallery, offering players and fans countless incredible works of art. And just as each new series introduces new Pokémon and environments to the rich tapestry of Pokémon TCG history, it’s also an opportunity for new artists to leave their mark.
From illustrators with distinctive styles to artists with a special talent for capturing the bond between Trainer and Pokémon, here are 10 talented artists who created their very first Pokémon cards for this series.
Since his kickoff in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion, OKACHEKE has illustrated more than 30 cards. With a vivid color palette and distinctive style, OKACHEKE doesn’t just draw Pokémon—he creates an entire world for the Pokémon to interact with, pulling the viewer in with thoughtful details. The artist’s use of light in particular is second to none. While all of his work is notable, his depiction of Alcremie from the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars Trainer Gallery is certainly a highlight of his work.
In 2019, Creatures Inc. ran its first Pokémon Card Game Illustration Grand Prix, offering artists in Japan the opportunity to create their very own Pokémon card illustrations. Narumi Sato captured second place for her adorable illustration of an Eevee squeezing beneath a fence. As it turned out, this was just the beginning for Narumi Sato. Her first official Pokémon TCG card was released in the Pokémon TCG: Shining Fates expansion, and she has since drawn more than 20 new cards. As shown in that very first Eevee drawing, Narumi Sato likes to focus on Pokémon as they go about their daily lives, capturing a brief, gentle moment with a soft, watercolor style.
Atsushi Furusawa first made a splash with his Lapras illustration in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion. Since then, he has drawn more than 20 cards for the series. While he’s created a diverse assortment of Pokémon and settings, many of these Pokémon are depicted with a slight smile that seems to be catching, because it’s hard not to smile back when looking at them. Perhaps the most memorable illustration is a Trainer Gallery card from Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Lost Origin featuring a Pikachu napping with its Trainer beneath a tree after a long day of catching Pokémon together.
Since making his debut in the Pokémon TCG: Shining Fates expansion, Souichirou Gunjima has been among the most prolific new artists, illustrating more than 50 cards. While he’s captured a wide range of Pokémon, including Eevee, Pikachu, Decidueye, and Kleavor, one theme throughout most of his work is motion. Souichirou Gunjima excels at capturing Pokémon in action, whether battling or simply going about their lives.
Like many of these artists, Teeziro debuted in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion. From a hangry Morpeko shaking down a tree for Berries to a Cyndaquil quietly scratching its cheek, Teeziro excels at capturing moments both large and small that communicate a strong sense of personality. The Trainer Gallery cards have proven to be immensely popular, and it’s worth noting that Teeziro has illustrated two, both from the Sword & Shield—Silver Tempest expansion. One captures a peaceful moment as an Ace Trainer consults a map while her Druddigon rests peacefully beside her, while the other emanates the joy and wonder of exploration with a good companion at your side as Trainer Rosa and Serperior V make their way along a well-worn path.
Since debuting in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Battle Styles expansion, KIYOTAKA OSHIYAMA has illustrated more than 20 Pokémon TCG cards. His style is quirky and bold, filled with vibrant color and so much activity that you feel compelled to take a second and even third look at each card because there’s always something more to see. The artist’s sense of humor shines through the artwork, as May desperately clings to the leg of Blaziken VMAX as it charges forward or a Smeargle appears to capture a selfie of itself and a Bibarel. Whatever the subject, KIYOTAKA OSHIYAMA brings a fun and unique perspective to the world of the Pokémon TCG.
Oswaldo KATO is another of the prolific new artists to debut in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield Series with more than 40 cards illustrated. In fact, the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion, where his work first appeared, featured five of his cards. His illustrative style showcases compelling lighting and linework that create the appearance of texture. In addition to capturing many Pokémon including Torterra, Goomy, and Parasect, Oswaldo KATO has contributed many illustrations for Stadium cards, from Jubilife Village and Path to the Peak to Gapejaw Bog.
While every new artist leaves their mark on the Pokémon TCG, takuyoa’s area of expertise seems to be capturing the incredible power of Pokémon V. After debuting in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Fusion Strike expansion, takuyoa has illustrated more than 10 cards, all but one of them Pokémon V. It’s a Pokémon TCG résumé that includes Hoopa V, Rapid Strike Urshifu V, and Kyurem V, and we hope to see more Pokémon from this artist in the future.
GIDORA made a brilliantly adorable impression from the very beginning in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars expansion: a Trainer Gallery illustration featuring Sonia heading out the door while her Boltund V is eager to join her for an adventure—or maybe just for walkies. This artist also produced an equally playful Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Lost Origin Trainer Gallery card depicting Leon and Charizard cozied up on the couch as Leon gives his partner Pokémon some well-deserved scritches. The aww-inducing cute factor of the card is off the charts, solidifying that GIDORA has a special knack for capturing the unique personalities and bond between Pokémon and Trainer.
While every artist has a unique style and perspective, some illustrators create art that is immediately recognizable as their own. Shinji Kanda, whose first Pokémon TCG card appeared in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars expansion, is one such artist. Each piece is a brilliant cacophony of colors, lines, and texture that combine to create a highly surreal and memorable image. While every card is uniquely stunning to match the spirit of the Pokémon it depicts, Shinji Kanda’s Giratina and Ariados from the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Lost Origin expansion are exceptional even among an exceptional body of work.
The illustrations by these talented artists are just some of the many incredible cards we’ve had the good fortune to see during the Sword & Shield Series. Keep an eye out for more artist debuts, new Pokémon, and even more incredible art in the Pokémon TCG: Scarlet & Violet Series.