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Nottingham is an interesting place, I thought as I stepped off the train. Of course, nothing in the South of Britain is comparable to the North, but at least they have trams! Attempting to hitch a ride in a rucksack with limited success (that is, I managed to get a hand in at least) I jumped onto the tram and made my way through the town until I reached a small mining village. A sign by the roadside indicated that it was "Warsop - Please drive carefully". Maybe hijacking the tram and driving it off-road was a bad idea. Arriving at a relatively normal house, I jumped through the window and conveniently landed opposite Kinneas, who was enjoying a cup of tea as we Brits constantly do.
So Kinneas, let's start off with the basics. Who are you, where are you from, etc etc.
My name is Kinneas, I like video games a lot. Spend a lot of money on all the video games I got. I am from a small pit village called Warsop. It's just on the outskirts of Nottingham in the UK (pit village as in coal mining, it's not literally a pit).
What got you into Pokémon?
Pokémon was released while I was still in primary school and it was a huge fad that was literally unavoidable as a kid. I watched the anime on Saturday mornings (SMTV live), I bought and traded cards in the playground, and I begged my parents for a Gameboy and Pokémon Red for Christmas. I've always played Pokémon since, and probably always will.
I noticed a DS lying on the table, reaching out to take a look at Kinneas's VGC collection. I stopped as he emitted a low, protective growl. Time for a quick change of subject.
What brought you to Smogon?
Kinneas stares at me blankly for a while. In the background I hear faint, yet vigorous, tapping, and then a low whirring. Suddenly a sharp click wakes me out of my doze, and he replies.
Well, I've actually been around in the online community for much longer than my join date suggests. My first forum was the Nintendo of Europe forums back in 2004, which were an absolute shit storm with literally no moderation whatsoever. I don't even remember how I ended up there... I think I saw the website on one of those point registration cards you got with games. It was there that I met Havak, who introduced me to Netbattle and Smogon. I lurked the forums for 3 years before finally signing up under my current name in 2007. I actually had an account before this one with a few posts, but I'm not going to reveal what it was ^_^
Two accounts, how rebellious! Moving onto more arty questions, how did you get into it?
Well, I've always been good at pencil drawings. I was actually put off art for a long time at school during my GCSEs. I had an absolutely horrible teacher in my final year of GCSEs who refused to let me draw, and forced me to do ridiculous things like "mosaics," which were actually just sticking sweet wrappers to cardboard. She'd constantly tell me that I had no idea what art was and undermine me. My grade went from a predicted A to an E that year, and it definitely put me off studying art academically.
I know the feeling. The thing is, I was pretty terrible at it in the first place! So what made you pick up the tablet?
This is a pretty silly story. Well, between the NoE forums and Smogon was another forum called ONM: the Official Nintendo Magazine Forum. Havak made me sign up to enter a tournament and I just stayed. I met a lot of people there who I'm still good friends with and we formed an IRC channel that we all hang out in. One day I decided to make these grotesque-looking comics about the daily goings-on in our IRC channel and I drew them with my laptop touch pad. They're pretty much full of inside jokes and toilet humour, but for some reason they got really popular, so I decided to start putting effort into them, bought a graphics tablet, and started drawing properly. From here I started developing my own "style" I guess, but you'll probably want to talk about that in another question.
My brow furrowed as he said this. I had no idea that he could read minds! I'd better start thinking more positive thoughts about the decor.
Right... How did you develop your cutesy style?
My style pretty much developed from the comic I made for my friends. I couldn't draw people very well so instead, most of the character were Terrance and Phillip-like people with flappy heads and beady circle eyes. It was very simple. When I decided to start drawing I decided to stick with the beady eyes and noticed how it made everything look so cute and innocent. That's when I decided to make my cutemons thread.
In particular, you like to make ugly mons cute, why is this?
Well there are a lot of artists on Smogon who are great at big elaborate pictures of Pokemon that look very intimidating. One of the first artists I noticed on Smogon was Rocket Grunt, who is great at making things look cruel and grotesque. I thought it would be fun to see if I could do the opposite. I guess you could say I'm the antithesis of Rocket Grunt! I also like to make people smile and laugh, and my dopey looking Gyarados seems to get a lot of d'awwwws.
I'm pretty sure all of your drawings do! This d'aww factor (new talent show yes / yes?) is probably what earned you the title of Smogon's best artist 2011. How do you feel about your recent Smog Awards win?
Well I'm very happy that people voted for me and it's great to get some recognition. On the other hand I feel slightly guilty. I wouldn't say I'm technically the best artist around, and I know that there's other artists who put a lot more time and effort into their work. I have a lot of admiration for some of the people in Smeargle's Studio and I'd do anything to have that sort of skill. Nevertheless, I'm happy to receive the award as it means that a lot of people genuinely enjoy what I do, and that's all I really hoped for when I started my thread.
Got any artsy plans for the future?
I'll keep doing my thing when I have the time. I've been experimenting with other styles that are out of my comfort zone so maybe I'll show off some off my less cutesy stuff in the future. At the moment though, I'm swamped with college work, so I have much less time to devote to art, or Pokemon for that matter. In the summer when I have more time my thread should definitely be more actively updated.
And finally, the most important question of all - what's your favourite Pokémon?
Like most people, I don't have one definite favourite Pokemon. It was Hitmonlee as a kid because when I played through Pokemon Red with my friends, I chose Hitmonlee at the dojo and everybody else chose Hitmonchan, so it felt quite personal to me. Nowadays... Spoink I love because it's adorable. Gyarados is a monster that was always on my in-game teams. Gengar, Muk, Crobat... there's too many to choose! If I have to pick one I'll go with Hitmonlee XD
I thank Kinneas for his time and say goodbye, electing to use the door instead. Its being locked didn't stop me - all it took was a Hitmonlee-style kick! Hopefully he has some kind of insurance.
Kinneas' art is, to be absolutely blunt, incredibly simple. Oh and also,
While it may not be the most complicated stuff around, the simplicity is actually a benefit to Kinneas's style. Using incredibly clean lines and only a mild dose of anatomical correctness, an overwhelming sense of cuteness is conveyed. As was mentioned during the interview, beady eyes are a trademark of Kinneas' designs, and remove any sort of creepy element that could be gained from this Volcarona's usually strange, insect eyes. Shading is minimal, and vibrant colors are used instead to show contrast.
Another feature of Kinneas's art is the color of the outlines. While not a unique practice, Fatecrashers does this too, a darker shade of the Pokemon's main color is used. This again contributes to the cuteness, though it can also be used for more general purposes, in the way that Fatecrashers uses this method.
While the art may in parts be simplistic, it is the little details that Kinneas adds which really make his drawings excellent. Weezing's second head is certainly not the focus of this piece, yet it adds another level of cuteness on top of the main focus.
Basically, this stuff is really cute!
You can check out Kinneas' art thread here.
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