The Melancholy Doodles of Hatboy – Nintendo Nation talks to the Tim Burton Pokémon Artist

Vaughn Pinpin is a very talented artist. Known under the pseudonym Hatboy, this Filipino artist has been applying his own, Tim Burton inspired twist to Nintendo’s basic sunshine and lollipops Pokémon designs.

The results range from excellent to phenomenal, and he’s only reached number 32 – there’s plenty of excellence yet to come. Even so Nintendo Nation thought that, with Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 just around the corner, this was as good a time as any to catch up with this talented Poké fan and ask him a few questions. Y’know, alongside reminding you to visit his blog more often.

Nintendo Nation: Hatboy! Where do you and your peculiar name hail from, and what do you do?
Hatboy: I am from The Philippines and I’m currently studying Visual Communication in the University of The Philippines. And I blog and I freelance as a designer or an illustrator whenever I can.

NN: How long have you been playing Pokémon games, and which is your favourite?
Hb: I have been playing Pokemon for a long time. My first game was Pokemon Gold. Got it almost immediately after it came out. I didn’t start out with Blue or Yellow like some, but we weren’t able to afford a Gameboy or any games at that time. So I started a bit late, but I was an instant fan. Especially since I was already a fan of the anime. Eventually I also played the earlier versions. My favourite one is probably Sapphire though. It had Mudkip. And I liek Mudkipz. As much as I think the original 151 was the best, Swampert is my starter of choice.

NN: Where did the inspiration come from to ‘Tim Burton’ the creatures of Pokémon?
Hb: It was a spontaneous thing. I liked doing mash-ups and at the time I was just thinking of what to put next on my blog. And so I was doodling and then I thought of Pokemon + Tim Burton. May or may not have been because I saw the Frankenweenie trailer a few days prior. Not totally sure. But I did know I wanted to start a project and I wanted it to be Tim Burton-esque. Being such a fan and I wanted to try drawing inspiration from his work for a new project.

NN: How do you go about applying the style? Is there a process, or is it just your own interpretation of the subject?
Hb: As much as possible, I try to make it reminiscent of Tim Burton’s films or art. But it’s not strictly based on Tim’s art alone. And I try to put my voice in there as well as an artist in hopes of growing as an illustrator. But how I go about each Pokemon is I first look at the Pokemon and then look through Tim Burton’s works and look for elements I could use to re-imagine the Pokemon. It’s not just big eyes and thin figures, unlike what most people seem to do when they attempt Tim Burton’s aesthetics. It’s actually a larger visual vocabulary than that. It’s all about a macabre exaggeration of figures. In a way, what I do is my own interpretation, but it is heavily influenced by Tim Burton. I’ve been obsessed with his art style for the longest time.

NN: Which is your favourite Pokémon?
Hb: Hands down, it’s got to be Gengar. Always loved the design and its mythology. I’ve always wanted to be a ghost trainer, but I have difficulty giving up practicality so I always end up having a type-diverse team. Still comprised of my favorite Pokemon though. None of which are legendaries. Not really into using legendaries.

NN: Which is your favourite Tim Burton film, and how excited are you for Frankenweenie?
Hb: My favorite film is The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s not just my favorite Tim Burton film, it’s my favorite film. I know that sounds cheesy, and the sort of stuff emo and goths kids obsess about, but I love it and it’s one of the things I always credit for sparking in me the need to create art. It’s what started my love affair with Tim Burton movies.

And I’m very excited for Frankenweenie. It’s gonna be awesome. Kind of worried for its reception because it’s in black and white, but it still looks absolutely gorgeous. And it’s in stop-motion animation, which is my favorite form of animation. I’m pretty sure Paranorman did better with that form of animation this year, but I’m sure I’ll love Frankenweenie. It seems reminiscent of Tim Burton’s earlier films and why I fell in love with his work in the first place.

NN: There are quite a few ‘mon to go, but have you thought about applying your particular artistic skills to any other game series’?
Hb: It’s a daunting task, but it’s been super fun. As of yet, I’ve no plans of making any other game fan art. But I might try re-imagining Psychonauts or Kirby just for fun. Not necessarily in Tim Burton-like.

You can see all of Hatboy’s entries into his Burton-dex so far by visiting his Tim Burton Pokémon tumblr page here, buy a poster with his Pikachu on it here, and see all of his various other works of art here.