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"Be free, Birkal!" exclaimed ium as he released his past Arterviewee from the potato sack that he had been captured in. Birkal snarled before quickly running off into the wild on all four paws.
So with that Arterview over, ium had to decide on who to look for next. Unfortunately, the next plausible destination was Sweden, and that only meant another long international flight for him. Never having gone to Sweden before, ium was actually interested to make the trip this time, especially since it meant meeting one of the most talented artists on Smogon. So ium packed his bags, scheduled his flight, and once again departed the United States before arriving at his destination.
"Ah, northern Sweden. It seems really quaint here, doesn't it?" ium said to himself. There was a ton of snow—more than ium would have preferred—but the small buildings and quietness of Sweden made the place feel quite relaxing and welcoming. For a while, ium trekked through the numbing, icy snow (perhaps even slipping a few times) and saw quite a few interesting things on the way, including a sign saying "beware of SuperJOCKE, the grammar monster."
ium stopped. In front of him was a small cottage, and it seemed to be just the one he was looking for too. "Finally," breathed ium. He approached the front door, and knocked on it. Greeting him was the person who would soon be asked to do an Arterview...
Hey Bummer! So just tell me a little background information about yourself—particularly who you are and where you're from.
My name is Olle Johansson, and I was born and raised in the northern part of Sweden. I'm a graduated Clinical Laboratory scientist, and I'm currently working in the clinical microbiological laboratory at Sunderby Hospital.
I was a bit intrigued, because I'm currently majoring in CLS myself. However, I held back any science-related questions since, after all, this was the Arterview and I wanted to focus on Bummer. There was something else I was interested in asking about though...
And how is Sweden like? I personally don't hear too much about it.
It really depends on what end you live in; it's a small but long country. On my end, people are fairly reserved, but nice and considerate. Not to say that the other end is the exact opposite, but the general opinion is that the people up north are more laid back and calmer. Overall, we have high taxes, the snow is abundant, our society strives to be open and fair to all people, and our women are just as attractive as the rumors say. Each point is up for discussion, but I feel it sums things up pretty well.
Aha, I see. So how did you come across the Pokémon franchise?
Can't remember how old I was—we're talking before the age of ten here. As most kids, our first contact with it was the TV show, which we readily consumed since our selection of morning cartoons was very slim. Later on, my brother managed to find a ROM of Pokémon Blue, where we played through the game together assisted by what we knew from the show. Naturally, we had no sense for team structure, so we ended up beating the Elite Four with an overpowered Charizard along with a freshly caught Haunter and Pidgeotto, but we all had a blast. More games came along, we began to collect cards, continued watching the show, stopped watching the show, put the card collection in the attic, but the games have kept me busy from that point forward.
Not necessarily with most kids! A lot of them started out with the games, y'know. So anyway, how did you come across Smogon?
My first contact with Smogon isn't as genuine as it could have been. I had known about the site for years, mostly because of the on-site Pokémon analyses, but also for its tiering system which for some reason had all of my favorites stuck in the lowest section. But when I began working on my Pokémon webcomic, I decided to share my content directly with the intended audience (i.e. shamelessly advertise), so I joined several forums, Smogon being one of them, and made threads about my art and comic to get feedback and new followers.
Ah, something I was about to mention. Talk a bit about your webcomic for me; how were you inspired or motivated to start one and just continue working on it for a long period of time?
It's a Pokémon webcomic going by the name Rare Candy Treatment, because all the good names were taken. While I've doodled all my life, I slowly began to take my work to the internet, acquiring a tablet while I was still studying for my degree. And as an avid Pokémon player, ideas and observations which could function as comic strips inevitably started to pile up. While I made a list of them, I noticed that I had enough to start and sustain a small webcomic. It's now been 2.5 years, and it's been a fun journey, as well as an educational one, since my work has improved from my first strip. I still twitch whenever I look at it.
I rolled my eyes. Typical Bummer being modest again when his work is, in my opinion, one of the best that Smeargle's Studio has to offer, even if it was his earlier work...
As I've mentioned earlier, making people laugh is a simple joy of mine, so while this comic is a laughable excuse for a second income, it's a hobby which has allowed me to both entertain and become better as an artist. Just how long I'll keep it alive is a different question, particularly so since my updates are more scarce nowadays, but it'll happen when it happens. People seem to like it.
How do you think you've changed over time on Smogon ever since you joined?
My internet presence had already been tempered and adequately refined from earlier forums I've frequented before Smogon, so in terms of personality, it's difficult for me to pinpoint any real changes.
Yeah, I suppose I'm mainly trying to focus on what you've become more involved in or what you do differently.
Smeargle's Studio was my home turf for a long time, and since I've always been in the mindset that I need to treat others as I want to be treated, I began to post in other people's art threads and quickly discovered that there were plenty of skilled artisans residing within these walls. Nastyjungle, Yilx, and Zracknel are just some of the people whose work I admired (and still do).
So I started getting to know people, peering into other parts of the forum complex, where I later reached the point that I wanted to give something back to the community that has treated me well. So I started to draw images for the Studio's Art for Articles project, and when I later on received access to The Smog's workshop, I've contributed art there as well. Smogon also managed to make me an addicted user of IRC, which makes it much easier to get to know other people. So whenever I start browsing now, I tend to have one tab open for #smeargle. Nowadays I tend to only make stuff for The Smog, but whenever I have the time I try to get involved with other site activities, where the Art for Tournaments and the site's tier hubs are just some of them.
Yeah, having some involvement with the many projects on Smogon is a great way to start off for sure. So just about The Smog itself, how are you very consistent and diligent when working on art for the magazine? You pump out a large number of pieces per issue, and you're always willing to help out, which is amazing.
Easy, a large portion of them went into my own article!
But generally, it's the articles themselves which motivate me. We've got some really good writers around here covering a plethora of different topics which interest me, so to aid their cause, throwing some quick art together is just one way to improve its appeal. And compared to my usual comic strips, an image for an article is generally easier to accomplish, so finding the motivation to finish one within a reasonable time isn't too difficult.
What's your history with art anyway?
Oh man, this takes me back. Better take a seat.
But... I am already sitting comfortably... :(
I have always liked drawing as a kid. In the beginning, they were all colorful crayon swirls, which later evolved into dinosaurs, palm trees, rabbits, and other items of interest. It was a genuine interest, and when I started school, I quickly became known as the guy who liked to draw stuff. As the years went on, I became known as the guy who COULD draw stuff, even though most of the stuff were still cartoonish people. Several times I considered to make it my profession, but at the same time, throwing money into the equation could also be the one thing which would drain all of my joy out of the activity, so I never pursued that path. I've kept it as a hobby, where I've borrowed influence from newspaper comics, books, movies, and other media which made me want to challenge my skills.
So besides the art classes in high school and below, I'm fairly self-taught. At one point, I started to put less attention to my drawings and instead strictly focus on school and video games, but as I later on joined college, boring lectures became a perfect breeding ground for notebook doodles. With that rekindled interest, I began looking up tutorials to see how I could improve various aspects of my work (namely, human anatomy). My trusted copy of Photoshop CS2 has been preserved ever since high school, and naturally, it was the tool to use when I wanted to turn my drawings into digital form. I already had experience with it to make forum signatures, so stuff like coloring, layer effects, and other electronic witchcraft was well within my grasp. So when I got my first tablet, I had all of the requirements to start polishing up my skills for real and take it to the internet. It was a humble beginning, mainly doing requests for fellow forum users and making small comics on miscellaneous topics, but practice makes perfect. And when I finally decided to grab the bull by the horns and launch my own comic, my motivation to try out new styles and challenge myself became all the more adamant. Naturally, if I had gotten an actual art education, this journey would have been significantly shorter with better results, but I like the route I've taken to get here. And it just keeps on going.
You have obviously gotten far! So how would you describe your artistic style, and better yet, how did you develop it?
I suspect that I lack the proper terms for it. But it's basically comic figures and... actually, that's it.
Suddenly, I hold back my comment as Bummer begins to speak again. I sometimes can't tell when he's satisfied with his answer despite him claiming that "that's it."
While realistic and abstract art can impress me, I don't put much effort into it myself. At best I can attempt to incorporate some aspects of it, even though the end result will be similar to my usual style. Exaggerated expressions and proportions are what I take advantage of, even if the latter is something I aim to keep within reasonable limits. My style is the product of many artistic juggernauts who have paved the road before me, where Bill Watterson and Frank Cho are merely two names I hold in high esteem. I also follow plenty of other webcomics, like Dresden Codak, Boxer Hockey, and Gunnerkrigg Court to name a few, so I've always had many examples to look up to when I've developed my own product. It's a subconscious process. While tutorials and mimicry can directly help you become better, simply looking at a vast amount of images and observing the finer details is also of great importance to determine your taste. When both your taste and result begin to look similar, you know you're on the right track.
Yeah, the expressions and exaggerated shapes are what I would have noted about your work too. However, I also love the color choices and they way you do highlights in each of your pieces. So anyway, do you have any plans for the future, whether it's art-related or otherwise?
None that I can think of. One of the drawbacks of keeping art to a hobby is the lack of solid goals and just moving along while trying out new stuff on the way. Preferably, I'd like to improve on the traditional side, where I don't need to rely entirely on Photoshop to patch up the faults in the original sketch. Getting rid of lineart altogether and solely focusing on colors and lighting is also something which has been nagging at the back of my mind, even though that would require some drastic changes in my usual work procedure, but then it wouldn't be a challenge! If I end up with multiple options for a certain task, I'll try to pick the approach which I have the least experience with, so that I may hopefully learn something from the assignment. So yeah, no particular plans whatsoever. Just sheer guts.
So to finally top it all off, what is your favorite Pokémon?
Oh, goody. Finally some HARD questions!
Bummer was chuckling a slight bit. Were my other questions that bad? Regardless, Bummer assures me that he is simply joking and proceeds to think about his answer to my question...
It's Magcargo. Wait, Quagsire. Or was it Heracross? Probably Cloyster.
...And Bummer thinks out loud.
But I'll stick with Magcargo. It has a weird typing which I found irresistible since my first encounter with it, and its goofy demeanor is just so charming. Sadly, its role in the current NU metagame is close to nonexistent, mostly due to poor decisions from Game Freak, but it will maintain a solid position among my favorites for years to come.
What a unique choice! So that concludes the Arterview, I s'pose. Thanks, Bummer! :}
Before we say our farewells, Bummer gives me a slight nudge in a joking manner.
Can you unlock my chain now?
No, you will remain shackled and I will have you tied to Birkal. >:(
The amazing thing about Bummer is that he always pulls something different in every piece of artwork that he puts out there. From monochromatic pieces to 8-bit artwork and everything in between, Bummer has probably done it. However, despite all that, his style is still very distinct—you could just look at a piece and instantly think "Bummer's art". What makes his work especially great is his cartooning, where every Pokémon or character he draws has some exaggerated proportions and shapes. Alongside that, Bummer also manages to add extra details to the Pokémon, such as fur or scales, and ultimately makes his product look like anything but a carbon copy of the original design.
My favorite part of Bummer's artwork is the concept and how it is carried out. It's really difficult to describe in mere words, but a large portion of Bummer's art is simply innovative. A lot of the creativity is evident in his witty comic strips, but I'm also talking about all the standalone artwork he does! Drawing a Porygon? Why not do it in binary code? You'll know more of what I'm talking about when you look at many of the Pokémon Biology articles in recent issues of The Smog.
In addition, Bummer makes wonderful color choices, especially on the highlights and shading, which makes many of his pieces so vibrant and color-saturated. His ability to experiment with either light or dark colors results in well-constructed yet often simplistic sceneries, backgrounds, and other neat designs. That allows him to convey a wide array of moods or emotions in his pieces, all while being able to be consistent in keeping a harmonious color palette.
Bummer's artwork is just one of the "must-sees" in Smeargle's Studio at Smogon, so if you haven't been checking out his work already, please do so now! It's absolutely wonderful, and I'm sure you'll think so too. Below are links to Bummer's artwork:
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