Pokemon Art Academy Competition

In late 2014 and early 2015, Pokemon would host the Pokemon Art Academy Competition. This was the franchise’s first true international illustration contest. Earlier illustration contests had been exclusive to Japan.

English competition banner

The competition invited players from Japan, North America, Europe, and Oceania to use the recently-released Pokemon Art Academy Nintendo 3DS to create a Pokemon illustration, with the winners getting their artwork printed on exclusive promo cards.

These winning cards were released as unnumbered XY-P promo cards in Japan, and as unnumbered promos for other countries. Each winner received just 100 copies of the card they illustrated. Aside from a few extra copies, there was no other source for these cards, and thus they are exceedingly rare since each winner controls the entire supply of their copies.

Goshadole‘s winning entry and card

Pokemon Art Academy Game

Pokemon Art Academy was and educational drawing game released on the Nintendo 3DS on the following dates:

  • Japan on June 19, 2014
  • Europe on July 4, 2014
  • Australia on July 5, 2014
  • America on October 24, 2014

The game was developed by Headstrong Games, and published by Nintendo. It is a spin-off of the Art Academy game series featuring Pokemon.

European box art

In the game, the player is enrolled in the Pokemon Art Academy under Professor Andy, who throughout 40 art lessons, teaches them how to draw Pokemon. The game provided a variety of tools and even allowed players to utilize the 3DS’s camera to take photos for references.

Within the game, drawings would be presented in a Pokemon TCG card frame after they were completed.

Gameplay video
A finished drawing in game

Competition Entry

The competitions for Japan and other countries were held at different times, but they all used the same method of entry directly from within the Pokemon Art Academy game.

There were 2 categories for participants to enter: “Dress-Up Pikachu” and “Your Favorite Pokemon”

Dress-Up Pikachu

Dress-Up Pikachu

Inspired by the special Cosplay Pikachu, which can be discovered in the recently launched Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire video games, this category gives entrants the chance to play fashion designer and create their very own Pikachu outfit!

In the Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire video games, Pikachu can dress up as Pikachu Belle; Pikachu Rock Star; Pikachu Pop Star; Pikachu, Ph.D.; and Pikachu Libre. Donning an array of new looks, Cosplay Pikachu can learn moves that ordinary Pikachu cannot learn in normal gameplay, and all have fun costumes that are sure to inspire the would-be costume designers who enter this category.

North American Competition prompt for Dress-Up Pikachu category

Your Favorite Pokemon

Your Favorite Pokemon

This category gives entrants the chance to submit their own artistic impressions of a favorite Pokémon, which they can do using the Free Paint mode of Pokémon Art Academy. So, if Snorlax awakens an inner Leonardo da Vinci, or Rayquaza gets fans painting with flying colours, then this is their perfect category!

North American Competition prompt for Your Favorite Pokemon category

Submission instructions

Since submissions for the competitions were done directly in game, there was no need to mail anything in or purchase anything beyond the game itself. There was no limit to the number of entries each person could submit.

  • Create and save an image in Pokémon Art Academy using Free Paint mode.
  • Select the “Share” option from Pokémon Art Academy’s main menu and connect to Miiverse.
  • Select the “Post to Competition” option and select “I Agree” if you agree to the Official Rules.
  • Highlight the category you’d like to enter (Dress-Up Pikachu or Your Favorite Pokémon) and then choose “Select Competition”. Only the first post you make will be recognised as your entry.
  • Slide over the image and select it and then choose “Share Selected”.
  • Enter a title to accompany your artwork in the comment field and then select “Post”. The image will be posted to Miiverse and entered into the competition.
  • The only way to enter the competition directly is from the Pokémon Art Academy game, available exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.

Additionally, the competition valued each of the prizes (the 100 winning copies) at a mere $40:

Details of how to enter can be found below, so all that remains is for Pokémon fans to grab a stylus and start discovering their inner artist with Pokémon Art Academy!

*The winners’ cards will not be made available for sale in regular Pokémon TCG products nor will they be eligible to take part in Play! Pokémon officially sanctioned organized play events.


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Must be a legal resident of the United States (including D.C.), Canada or Mexico. 6 prizes total, ARV $40 each. Additional terms and conditions apply.

North American Competition entry rules
Japanese contest entry instructions

Japanese Competition

In Japan, the competition was called “Pokémon Art Academy × Pokémon Card Game”. Entries were accepted from December 13, 2014 to February 1, 2015, with winners being announced in March 2015.

Japanese Competition banner

There were 5 winners for each of the 2 categories, for a total of 10 Japanese winners. Judges for the competition consisted of Pokémon TCG illustrators like Kagemaru Himeno, Komiya Tomokazu, as well as Creatures Inc. staff member 5ban Graphics.

Japanese Dress-Up Pikachu Winners

There were 5 winners selected for the Dress-Up Pikachu category. Each winning entry contained 2 – 4 comments from the judges


Komiya Tomokazu


The expression and clothes look like a rustic child in the countryside. A scene of a small encounter in summer The politeness of the many colors of green is good, as it is quietly stored.




Pikachu’s laid-back daily life is expressed, and it is a piece that makes the viewer feel laid back.
I think that the carefully drawn background also helps to create that atmosphere. Imagine what kind of house you live in.

Creatures Inc.’s 5ban Graphics



The encounter between Pikachu and Dedenne in a peaceful landscape is wonderful. I was healed by looking at the warm atmosphere from the whole illustration.
I think it’s a wonderful illustration that conveys your feelings by drawing the details well.

pikamania (Yukichi)

Komiya Tomokazu


I was trying to get the feeling of shooting with a fisheye lens, and the composition was clear in perspective. Is Pikachu the president somewhere? Expression like is also good.

Kagemaru Himeno



Cute Pikachu transforms cool!
The gestures and accessories that hold the glasses are also elaborate and wonderful!




I want to work for Pikachu’s company! I chose it because I thought.
The costumes are fashionably dressed, and the atmosphere that you can rely on while being cute is like an adult. I also like the bold perspective of the background.

Creatures Inc.’s 5ban Graphics


I was attracted to the idea that Pikachu is the president. Pikachu, which looks good on glasses, is fresh and wonderful. It’s good to be able to produce the feeling of being a president even if you are concerned about time.

Mame Akimaru (Shiratama)

Mitsuhiro Arita


Of all the works I saw, this was the only Pikachu that jumped out into space! You can feel the excitement from the brilliance of your eyes! It’s cute that the tip of the tail is a heart.

Kagemaru Himeno



The transparent ears of the spacesuit are wonderful!
The beauty of outer space is transmitted to the brilliance of Pikachu’s eyes. Deoxys like a shooting star is also good.

Creatures Inc.’s 5ban Graphics


It’s so cute to see Pikachu jumping out into space with sparkling eyes. The design of the space suit is also elaborate, and I thought it was a nice idea to see through my ears.

Y. Fujishima (Onigiri)

Kagemaru Himeno


It’s a thunderstorm, but I can feel the feeling of Pikachu who is happy to wear his favorite raincoat that covers the tail.

Komiya Tomokazu

色味のバランス 一見綺麗でない色を上手に組み合わせてるセンス。朝起きても、ふと思い出してしまうくらいのインパクト。心を捉えた1枚でした。

Balance of colors. A sense of skillfully combining seemingly unbeautiful colors. Even if you wake up in the morning, the impact will make you remember. It was one that caught my heart.

Mitsuhiro Arita


The tail and ears of the red raincoat are finely designed for Pikachu!

Sayaka Maruyama




The expression of Pikachu who is happy to see the rainbow is very nice.
You must have found it difficult to express the rainbow directly.

Creatures Inc.’s 5ban Graphics



Pikachu’s expression is fascinating and I’m so happy.
The composition shows very well, and I love the sense of showing the rainbow in the lower left.

Japanese Your Favorite Pokemon Winners

The remaining 5 winners in the “Your Favorite Pokemon” category also received 2-3 judges’ comments. Notably, there was a Pikachu selected in this category, meaning that there were 6 Pikachu cards in total from the Japanese winners.

Mio Muroi

Kagemaru Himeno


The scenery reflected in the puddle, the expression of Goomy who found herself, and the glittering feeling after the rain are very well expressed.

Creatures Inc.’s 5ban Graphics



I was drawn to the cuteness of Goomy looking into a puddle.
I think the uniqueness of the situation and the high level of technology to express it are wonderful. It made me happy to see the Pokemon drawn lively.


Komiya Tomokazu


“Ah, I’m resented, I don’t know what it is…” The expressive power that makes me feel like that when I’m drawn into the diamond-shaped eyes is good.

Creatures Inc.’s 5ban Graphics



The composition of the upside-down sableye is interesting.
I think that the suspicion of Sableye can be well expressed by tilting the head.


Komiya Tomokazu


An overwhelming black flood that looks like a heavy metal jacket. Pokemon characters are also fierce creatures who nest in the darkness. Such a view of the world is often seen.

Kagemaru Himeno



It’s amazing that it’s drawn in detail!
The expression of light and shadow is also wonderful!



The density and the stunning overall atmosphere are amazing.

Daisuke Ochiai

Kagemaru Himeno


The touch of the picture is clear, but the transparency of the water is well expressed, and the expression of Mudkip conveys the feeling of comfort.

Creatures Inc.’s 5ban Graphics



I was struck by the expression of Mudkip with a big smile.
It’s a wonderful piece that conveys your feelings of joy.

Ginga (Yuri)



You can draw cute Pikachu with various facial expressions. Personally, I like the expression of the cheeks on the upper right.

Mitsuhiro Arita


I feel the depth of my love for Pikachu when I draw Pikachu with various expressions.

Judge’s Honorable Mentions

Each judge also highlighted 2 entries that they felt deserved some recognition. One would be from the “Dress-Up Pikachu” category, and the second would be from the “Your Favorite Pokemon” one.

Mitsuhiro Arita

The texture that seems to convey the warmth of the hat and coat, the expression and the story, including the falling snow, are excellent.

Translated comments on the Pikachu

Take off your hat for the detailed drawing of the brilliance of jewels! It’s a technique that makes love for Diancie.

Translated comments on the Diancie


It’s a fun work with sweets on the tail of Pikachu and lots of highlights in the showcase.
It’s a shop you want in your neighborhood.

Translated comments on the Pikachu

I don’t usually see the expression of Pokemon sleeping, so it was fresh. I thought that the warm colors matched the expression of Pokemon.

Translated comments on the Gengar

Kouki Saitou

It’s cute ♪ It’s quiet but moving, and it’s nice to make you feel the story! I’m excited to hear the conversation between the two.

Translated comments on the Pikachu

How to compose, color, touch, and how to express it is excellent! It’s like a scene from a story and it’s amazing!

Translated comments on the Sigilyph

Kagemaru Himeno

The background and clothes are refreshing, and the ears that hang down with a hat are girlish and cute!

Translated comments on the Pikachu

The texture of water is very real!
The dynamic expression that cuts out the momentary movement is wonderful.

Translated comments on the Heliolisk

Komiya Tomokazu

A team rocket with a character of transcendental justice.
If you are a professional, you can break the rules, and if you are a Pikachu fan, you can scream and scream.
Coupled with the dirty background, it’s nice.

Translated comments on the Pikachu

I get the feeling of silence as if I was shooting an approaching at super high speed with a hyper slow motion camera. You can match it with your character.

Translated comments on the Greninja

5ban Graphics (Creatures Inc. staff)

Pikachu wearing a mushroom is very adorable. It’s fun to imagine what it would be like to change clothes in the wild.
It also feels playful in the place where you secretly drew Foongus.

Translated comments on the Pikachu

The powerful battle between Seviper and Zangoose is a cool illustration.
The eerie expression of the Seviper in the foreground matches the character and is attractive.

Translated comments on the Zangoose

North American, European, and Oceanian Competitions

In February 2015, the Pokemon Company announced the international version of the competition. From February 18, 2015 to March 29, 2015, players could enter the competition in an identical way to the Japanese one held earlier.

English competition banner

The international competition was split into two contests: North America’s competition covered Canada, and Mexico. Europe and Oceania’s competition was open to residents of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and Russia (Italy was specifically excluded).

Winners were announced later in June 2015. 3 winners in each of the 2 categories were selected for each of the 2 competitions for a total of 12 winners.

Winners were notified via email, and then later sent a congratulatory letter along with a special box containing the 100 copies of the card they had illustrated.

North American Dress-Up Pikachu Winners

Unlike the Japanese competition, each winner was given just a short blurb of judge commentary.


It meticulously expresses the flavor of a tropical island with its colors. The costume is drawn well and is cute and pretty. It’s a high-quality work.

Judge commentary


This piece expresses the atmosphere of Kabuki and Japan very well. It’s wonderful. The costume, the makeup, the stage, the runway, and the lighting are all very well drawn.

Judge commentary


Pikachu dressed as the queen of hearts caught my eye, especially the gorgeous costume.

Judge commentary

European & Oceanian Dress-Up Pikachu Winners

These winners’ cards were printed in their native languages, resulting in multiple not being in English.


This winner was from Spain.

It’s very well drawn with such detail. The ear covers and the snowflake-shaped accessories are very cute.

Judge commentary


This winner was from Australia.

You can’t take your eyes off of Pikachu because it’s in a precarious situation, which makes the picture even cuter.

Judge commentary


This winner was from the United Kingdom.

The light and the shadow are well balanced, and the highlights have some good effects.

Judge commentary

North American Your Favorite Pokemon Winners

Similar to the Dress-Up Pikachu winners, each winner of this category had a short judge commentary.


It depicts the magnificence of Primal Kyogre very well. It’s a stunning illustration with perfect overall balance.

Judge commentary


It’s a fun piece completed very beautifully with only a few colors. The elements are simple yet elaborate.

Judge commentary


The theme that depicts the trust between Pokémon and humans is wonderful.

Judge commentary

European & Oceanian Your Favorite Pokemon Winners

Like the other category winners for this competition, these were printed in the native language of the winner.


This winner was from Germany.

The use of color and lighting reminiscent of a fairy tale is very beautiful. It mystically depicts the scene when Mew and other Pokémon met for the first time, and captivates the imagination.

Judge commentary


This winner was from France.

As every single detail is painstakingly drawn, I would enjoy looking at it for a long time. The texture of the body is great, and the Pokémon’s happy expression makes me smile.

Judge commentary


This winner was from the United Kingdom

I could tell this was a very well-drawn picture with just one look. It shows both painting skills and charm as a picture.

Judge commentary

Prize Box

Winners of the international competition were shipped their 100 prize cards in a specially-designed cardboard box.

Front of box
Back of box
Left side of box
Right side of box
Bottom of box
Top of box

All box images are courtesy of Goshadole, one of the North American winners.

This cardboard box contained the 100 copies of the card each winner illustrated, sandwiched between multiple pieces of Styrofoam. This could explain why many of the winner cards from the Non-Japanese competition exhibit signs of minor edgewear.

Box interior, courtesy of Goshadole

Additional Copies

Additional copies beyond the 100 distributed to each winner have surfaced amongst other private collectors. This has been confirmed by a few winners who have never sold any of their winning copies, but copies having been sold by others. It is rumored that full sets (one of each winning illustration) of these extra copies were sold by a Pokemon employee.


The 2015 Pokemon Art Academy was not the final Pokemon illustration contest, but it was the final illustration contest that awarded exclusive, normal-sized promo cards with winning illustrations.

Later illustration contests would print the winning illustrations on promos that were widely distributed through promotional campaigns, such as purchasing things from Pokemon Center stores. Winners of later illustration contests like the Pokemon Grand Prix contests starting in 2018 or the Pokémon the Movie: Koko × Pokémon Card Game Illustration Contest would also receive jumbo cards featuring their artwork.


Special thanks to Goshadole who patiently answered my questions about the competition and provided photos.

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