BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Pokémon and his friends have been popping up everywhere lately: parks, trees and sidewalks, literally. Local artist Gary Barton has been drawing giant-sized Pokémon characters on sidewalks using chalk all around the downtown area. Now, he’s teaching others how to do it.
“Saturday we’re going to be drawing Pokémon in sketchbooks and then we’re going to draw them with chalk,” said Barton during an interview at Western Michigan University where he works. “I’m hoping to teach some of the things that I've learned throughout my art career to young people and families.”
He’s calling it Draw ‘Em All and it’ll be held this Saturday at the Art Center on Emmett Street. He said it’s $15 a spot and there’s only 20 available. He’s encouraging families to purchase one spot to give other people the opportunity to take the class.
“I actually had a guy contact the Art Center in Battle Creek and provide paid scholarships for people that may not have an opportunity, or extra income, to take the class,” said Barton.
He said the scholarships are available for people who sign up to be a part of a Pokémon team: Valor (red), Mystic (blue) and Yellow (Instinct). But everyone’s invited.
“It’s going to be a one-day class,” said Barton. “More of a Pokémon Go event where we learn some drawing techniques and create one Pokemon in sidewalk chalk from start to finish.”
Barton said he’s been playing Pokémon since 1998 when he was getting his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Kendall College of Art & Design. Since then, he’s been drawing Pokémon too. He’s a father now and has gotten his 8-year-old son drawing them too, mainly at family events or on his driveway. But in mid-July he started drawing them outdoors and so far people love it.
“There were a lot of young people, children that wanted to draw Pokémon too,” said Barton. "After that first drawing and all the conversation I had during that first drawing, I contacted the art center and said we gotta go with this event right now. It's popular.”
The Art Center has been excited about it ever since, Barton said. He’s glad he can use Pokemon as the medium to get people interested in art.
“Families that are around the Pokémon Go environment you know they’ll hang out with me or they’ll be doing their own chalk drawings now," said Barton. "I'm seeing other people, other than me, doing chalk drawings."