Kongregate Developers Blog

Exploring the Fusion of Artistry and Functionality in UI

In the fast-paced world of game development, where visual appeal and seamless user experience are paramount, UI artists play a crucial role. They are the masterminds behind the captivating interfaces that guide players through immersive digital worlds. One such talented artist is Michelle Pope, a User Interface Artist at Kongregate.

Michelle, who joined Kongregate two years ago, initially made her mark on SpongeBob’s Idle Adventures, released in 2020. Her journey with Kongregate, however, began even before she officially became a part of the team. As a contractor, she contributed her artistic skills and laid the foundation for her future success.

When asked about the importance of UI art, Michelle emphasizes its multifaceted nature. "It's technical, but it's also visual. It's fun, but it also has to make sense," she explains. “UI art is not just about making things look pretty; it's about creating an intuitive and immersive experience for players, too. A successful UI artist must navigate the delicate balance between aesthetics and functionality.”

Michelle's passion for UI art shines through as she describes her favorite aspect of the job: exploring new styles. She immerses herself in research, studying other games and delving into the essence of the game she's working on.

"We create a huge mood board online and just start throwing stuff at a wall, seeing what sticks, seeing what looks good," Michelle shares. This iterative and creative process allows her to breathe life into new designs and elevate the overall user experience.

While Michelle's expertise lies primarily in the artistic side of UI, she acknowledges the importance of collaboration with engineers. "Some UI artists have programming knowledge, but I'm more focused on the art side," she explains. Unity, a powerful game development platform, forms the backbone of her work. By partnering with engineers, she ensures her designs are seamlessly implemented and functional, while she focuses on making buttons visually appealing and intuitive.

Michelle's journey to becoming a UI artist was a natural progression from her background in illustration, which she studied in college. Unlike illustration, which often has a specific purpose and limited lifespan, UI art is ever-evolving, presenting exciting challenges that keep her engaged. "UI can be so many different things and take so many different twists and turns," she explains.

When asked about her sources of inspiration and how she stays up to date with the latest trends and techniques in UI art, Michelle confesses to being an avid social media lurker, “a lot of it is just scrolling - there’s so much information out there.” Platforms like LinkedIn provide a wealth of articles and discussions that keep her informed. Additionally, she plays a variety of mobile games, both for pleasure and as a means of research. By immersing herself in different genres and experiences, she gains insights into the evolving expectations of players and the industry as a whole.

UI artistry is both an art and a science. Michelle's passion for creating visually stunning yet functional interfaces sets her apart in the gaming space. Her commitment to research, collaboration, and pushing the limits of UI design serves as an inspiration to Kongregants and the wider gaming industry.

Michelle Pope has been at Kongregate for over 2 years as a User Interface Artist. She loves trying out new mobile games, enjoys watching Ted Lasso, and has two beautiful Newfoundlands with great taste in Halloween costumes.

If you’re interested in receiving developer emails, sign up for our newsletter here!