We caught up with Jonathan Ball, also known as Pokedstudio, to chat about how his school career advisor talked him out of pursuing art and design as a career path, how he can’t quite remember where the name Pokedstudio came from and how, if he were religious, he would be seeing Jesus a lot.
How would you describe your style?
It’s a mix of retro video game, cartoon worlds, weird characters and street art, all mixed up and shaken around.
We read in another interview that you realised you had an interest in illustration at the age of 29. Did you have any experience in art before then? Was there a eureka moment when you suddenly realised you could do it? Or had there been a few events leading up to your interest aged 29?
I was always into art, just never thought I’d be able to make a career out of it. In fact I remember the career advisor in school talking me out of following art as a career. I think it was the rise of the internet and various digital drawing applications that made it easier to take the move into art and design. Previously you would have to send your portfolio by post or take it around to clients, which was difficult unless you lived in central London.
What software are you using?
Lots! Blender, Photoshop, Illustrator, Affinity Designer, Cinema 4D and Z-Brush are my main tools right now.
You taught yourself how to use these programs, do you think teaching yourself let you think outside the box in the way that you use them?
Yes it does in a way, though you can pick up some bad habits. Sometimes you think that there’s a quite basic function of a program you have never learnt properly that can have a drastic effect on the speed or organisation of your work.
What’s the best and the worst thing about working with CG?
It’s great making images you can turn and view from all angles, that’s the main strength. The draw backs are the complexity. Also people are so used to seeing films and games made by teams of hundreds of people over many years using vast render farm networks. They imagine you can make something similar in a few days on a home computer. You can’t!
From your work we imagine the pokedstudio to be a pretty crazy place, is your studio as crazy as we’d like to think?
No not really. It’s mostly just me, though sometimes some freelancers also. My pile of sweet wrappers, chocolates and coffee cup by my desk is quite crazy.
Where did the name Pokedstudio come from?
I can’t properly remember…. It’s about poking things to see what they are..like a kid does, pokes a slug or snail…
You seem to have the ability to turn anything into a character, do you constantly see faces in everyday objects?
Yes I do actually. Lots of buildings have faces on them. If I was religious I would be seeing Jesus a lot!
If you could be one of your characters for the day which one would you be?
Ha not sure I’d want to be one of my characters, they are often a bit mad.
We know you have a love for computer games, what are your favourites?
Now we are talking! All retro stuff here… R-type, Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo.
Are there any artists that you look up to?
Yes loads. James jean, Peter Hale, Niark.
What music do you listen to?
At the moment a lots on electronic stuff that is not to heavy, it helps me work. Kraftwerk, underworld.
What phone are you using?
Just an old iPhone 4, not very good. Don’t use phone much.
When you’re not making awesome artwork what are you doing?
Out with my family, watching movies and traveling. My wife is French so we travel there a lot. Oh yeh food, I love cooking and good food is a must.
What have you got planned for the future?
Growing my business, making short films and animations and more games. Cant wait!