Pokemon Card Illustration Rares

While I’m skeptical on some of the ridiculous gaudy ultra hyper rares in the Pokemon card game, I’m in love with Pokemon card illustration rares. This stuff is the best ever! Y’all know I love Pokemon card art, but this is another level.

Pokemon Card Illustration Rares

With a vastly expanded canvas and looser style guidelines, Pokemon’s artists are able to express some extremely interesting stuff. There’s no risk of crowding out space in the tiny panel. No risk of confusing players by showing too many background Pokemon–it’s all alternate art, so the stakes are lower, and creativity is higher.

I’ve complained in recent years that Pokemon as a whole has become so streamlined and brandified that the weirdness has all but disappeared. The games are more popular than ever, but it also sands off the rough edges, gives them traditional shounen battle storylines, and no longer does bold, risky experiments. This is pretty much the same for all mega franchises, though. Star Wars is more unified, less weird than it was 25 years ago. Marvel and DC comics are as well. Mickey Mouse abandoned and ripped up its 90s-00s continuity, while Super Mario is so brandified it refuses to even allow unique named Goomba or Toad characters anymore.

But Pokemon card illustration rares prove me wrong, about Pokemon at least. It’s the one space where artists can do whatever the hell they want, and we’re just along for the ride.

There’s some absolutely stunning, captivating pieces of art here we can examine. Just in my Pokemon Card Art Spotlight series so far, I’ve featured a ton of them, and I’ll remind you of some of them with a helpful slideshow:

Geez, just these recap cards and I’m already elated.

But I just love these cards. They serve so many purposes.

For example, some Pokemon card illustration rares can show a Pokemon at its absolute awe-inspiring prime.

Normally, these kinds of badass big EX GX VMax Pokemon are shown in close-up battle poses, attacking the screen and breaking through the borders of the cards. But these don’t do that. They’re snapshots of awesome scenes. The Pokemon don’t notice you, and they usually aren’t even battling.

And then you have the scene-setters. Cards that depict a Pokemon living out life in the Pokemon world. I love these the most because they help flesh out the world of the games better than the games themselves, or even the anime for that matter. We get to see Pokemon living in the world in a grander way than normal cards can allow.

We also get a lot of Pokemon card illustration rares that depict cool, cinematic scenes like something out of a comic book cover or a movie poster.

And there’s a bunch of cards that experiment wildly with art style and color. Bigger, bolder versions of the stuff we’d see in retro Pokemon cards.

Some Pokemon evolutions tell a storyline through multiple cards:

And still others just sort of feature artists’ undying love for Smeargle, a love I share:

All absolutely phenomenal artwork. Captivating stuff.

And… If you will beg my pardon, I would like to ask you permission to make a Part 3 of this alternate art series. There’s just so much of it that I want to spend some time just breaking down and analyzing my very favorite of these Pokemon card illustration rares.

(Again, I really really wish Pkmncards had better tags for alternate art, because this took forever to sort through.)

So, if you are willing to grant me permission to go totally off the deep end card-wise… then I will give you some of my very favorites.

Watch this space!

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