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The farmer in question blurted a slew of bad language at me as his cart rolled off along the road. I turned to the Totodile which I had never seen before in my life, though it seemed to have magically come into my possession.
"Toto, we're not in Kansas any more."
The little Pokémon looked at me quizzically, before a short-haired woman kicked it into a ditch, and only just restrained herself from hitting me too. I guess she hears that kind of joke a lot.
"Before you say anything, short hair is not ugly. Don't let people in #smeargle tell you otherwise!"
I sighed in relief - this Pokémon-abusing, angry woman was in fact Nastyjungle. It would have been terrible if I'd run into anyone, for example, violent. She led me into a little country house, and looked at me suspiciously.
"People think everyone in Kansas is some backwards farmer, living in the country."
I decided to change the subject - this introduction had gotten long enough.
As with any interview, let's start from the ground up - what's your name, where are you from and all that jazz.
Well anyways, my name is Nastyjungle... People call me Nasty or NJ. I live in the little city of Topeka, Kansas. Basically smack dab in the middle of the United States, for those not familiar.
I wasn't familiar. In fact, I couldn't remember how I'd gotten here. Maybe I was dreaming, Inception-style. No, wait. If I was dreaming then the farmer wouldn't have been transporting fertiliser.
How did you come across the great franchise of Pokémon?
My cousins, mostly. They were both pretty big Pokemon fanatics, and one day they lent me Blue to take home and play. I was hooked immediately. Though I was still pretty young and had trouble reading some of the text in-game, I still managed to stumble my way through it. I've been playing ever since, and don't see myself stopping anytime in the near future. (I remember being really excited by getting Cut because I wanted to cut down all the trees to see what was past Pallet Town, I was pretty disappointed when I found out how it really worked...)
That's scarily like how I got into it. I'm just disappointed that you can't cut grass any more - gone are the days of mowing the Pokémon League's lawn. Anyway... what brought you to Smogon?
It was around the beginning of 4th gen, I had a Tangrowth and for whatever reason I decided to look up what moves would be good on it. The first thing I clicked on was a Serebii analysis what-have-you, and I read about all of the competitive stuff. From there I got into competitive play and of course found Smogon somewhere along there. I've been lurking ever since, but only decided to recently make an account. I still play competitive mons, but I'm a bit sporadic about attempting to actually ladder.
Sorry, but this is almost exactly the same as how I arrived at Smogon - even down to the Pokémon! I don't suppose you were watching The Secret of my Success at the time were you?
Nasty's face was blank. I guess not. It's a good film by the way, you should watch it! Oh yeah, the interview...
Now for the stuff I really want to know - what is your history with art?
I've been drawing basically ever since I can remember. When I was a kid and everybody else was playing with their blocks, all I wanted was some paper and a pencil. I pretty much despised coloring books because I felt like I couldn't be creative - with a blank sheet I really felt in control. Since then, I've taken the basic Middle School classes and am ready to start some more advanced High School courses.
Would you consider yourself a child prodigy?
I've been drawing basically every day since I could hold a pencil, but it was mostly for fun and I really wasn't that great for a long time. Art is really 99% practice and 1% talent. Eventually I practiced enough that I started to get good, and then it was all uphill from there. I wouldn't say I'm a child prodigy at all, just someone with a lot of love and determination for what I do.
At hearing the stats, I perked up slightly. Maybe I could throw off this gimmicky mantle of "the mod who can't draw" and become a great artist! Then again, I'm not sure I can quite make that one percent - it's certainly a high standard. I looked up from my contemplation to ask Nasty's opinion, but she was gone. A few seconds later she entered the room. She noticed my confused look.
"Sorry about that, I had to pour some water on a witch. What were you saying?"
How did you develop your style?
I'd call my style a mixed bag of every other artist I've ever admired. If there was an artist (or even just a single piece of art in particular) that I really enjoyed, I'd take a good look and decide what I liked about it most. Then I'd try to imitate whatever I liked with the next drawing I did, while adding other techniques and flavors that I'd found in the past. This all compounded into what I do today: other people's influence mutating into something all my own. Even now I get inspired and completely change up how I do things.
In particular I've seen you switch up between two main styles - using the pen tool, and working more with pixels. Which do you prefer?
I much more prefer working with the pen/brush tool. I can appreciate the pixeled look but there is true elegance to be had in smooth lines! I do like to change things up so doing both is fine with me. Textures are a good way to slap on some flavor to a picture, making good things great and lazy things look slightly less horrible.
"Slightly less horrible" is hardly just - I'm probably your biggest fan. Do you have any plans for the future?
In my most perfect of worlds, art will be my profession. In less perfect worlds, I'll be doing something else (most likely engineering) and art will have to be just a hobby. Either way, I'm nearly 100% certain that I couldn't give up art entirely, considering how much I enjoy it and how much of my life I've poured into it.
I contorted my face into a mask of seriousness, with difficulty, for the next question. Truly it was a question for the ages.
What's your favorite Pokémon?
Venusaur, always. People from Smeargle's Studio know that Budew was kind of my gimmick at first, but I don't think it even places in my top 10 favorites... Venusaur has always just been so appealing to me for some reason, especially that big old tree-flower-thing on its back. It would be so awesome to sit on top of that behemoth and chill under its shade. Musharna and Ho-Oh are both tied for a close second, though.
And finally, another question that is extremely important. Which Smeargle's Studio moderator do you prefer - myself or Fatecrashers?
Nasty laughed. Clearly she didn't take this question as seriously as I did.
That's like choosing between cheesecake or ice-cream... too difficult of a decision, and I'd rather have both. ;)
I breathed a sigh of relief and stood up to leave, thanking NJ for her time. I stopped just outside the door.
"Oh, what a great doormat! 'No place like...'"
"Uh, yeah. Bye!"
Nasty shut the door as I walked back to the road, hoping to hitch a ride back home (wherever that was).
In some ways it's difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes Nastyjungle's art great, as the myriad of different factors all come together effortlessly, creating the unique pieces that make NJ one of the most popular current artists in Smeargle's Studio.
With this Musharna, Nasty's dynamic posing is clear to see. Combined with clean line art and slight hatching to add depth, even sketches of hers are excellent. This particular piece was apparently drawn while waiting at the bank, and in my opinion she could have cashed it! Muted colors also feature - another distinct part of Nasty's work. This provides more realism to the usually-flamboyant colours of the Pokémon world.
NJ has also demonstrated mastery of pixel art multiple times, of which I think the best is this Mienshao. Colors are used to bring the focus to the Pokémon itself, and the anatomy is excellent. However, I believe the best part of this piece is the use of black. Nasty expertly divides the foreground and the background with the use of black, which - while clear - flows well. The shading, most evidently seen on the thighs, is graduated, showing Mienshao's muscle structure.
If you'd like to see more of Nastyjungle's work [you definitely do!] then you can check out her thread here.
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