Federal 52 Part 2 is approaching quickly. In mid-June Jackson Robinson will open the gates to the highly anticipated second part of the Federal 52 Playing Card Series. I spoke with Jackson this week and was given the images containing the Reserve Note tuck case design.
New photo released of branded deck....
I was also able to do a quick Q&A with Jackson regarding the overall project. Throughout the project Jackson has been very informative so these answers will be more advice oriented than revealing. However, it shines light on the amount of time and dedication he has put into this. It also gives great advice to those looking to create a deck.
Tuck Case: How long ago did you start designing this project?
Jackson: The idea around February. I had just finished my first Kickstarter project and it was successfully funded.
My brother Taylor (who produced my Kickstarter video) are always shooting back and forth ideas. I had a few deck ideas in mind. I even started a completely different deck when we came up with the idea. I then started doing a ton of research, concept drawings and inkings. The project and designs started taking shape and I felt like I had something special. I called my brother up and said "how about I fly out to Brimingham, AL and we shoot the promo video." I brought all of my pencils and drafting equipment and hopped on a plane. It was a quick weekend but we were able to have a blast and capture the story behind the project.
Tuck Case: Kickstarter can be a tough crowd, when did you know you were ready to go live with Federal 52?
Jackson: I knew that the Federal 52 had the potential to be a big project so I wanted to make sure I was ready and used to the Kickstarter system. So I did another small scale project to get even more projects under my belt. It was also an opportunity for me to build a small backer base to "prime the pump" for the Federal 52.
Tuck Case: What is most challenging about the Federal 52 project?
Jackson: By far the most challenging thing about the project was the shear amount of work that had to be done. I have a full time job as an Art Director and dad, so I would usually put in 4 - 6 hours every night for 7 days a week when I got home from work. My wife is a super mom and we have two little girls so her role was to help give me "undistributed" time working on the cards. It was also an added bonus keeping up with comments and updates throughout the process.
Tuck Case: One thing (out of many) that I like about this project is that you love the art but you also listen to the community and make changes based on that input, was there ever a time during this whole project that you ended up struggling to change something but did anyway for the community?
Jackson: Not really, I've been a professional artist my whole life. So I'm pretty used to clients telling me to change things for no other reason than "I don't like that." I was open to suggestion from the basic reason that I hadn't been around the card designing scene very long. Just like with any functional design there are always simple rules that naturally create them selves through years of refinement and use. Playing card was no different. As soon as I was made aware of the "rules" it was easy to evolve my designs to suite those rules. As long as it stayed within the spirit and style of what I was creating, I was okay with it. I also think as a Kickstarter creator designing the cards as I went gave me an easy opportunity to involve my backers in the process. The natural by product was more engaged and loyal backers that helped spread the word about the project.
Tuck Case: On top of other suggestions and input, the Silver Certificate was an extremely favorable add-on that many people wanted with the first project. How did you decide when to go with a community suggestion and when not to?
Jackson: Well even before the project started I had the idea of the Federal 52 being a series, just because there has been so much evolution in currency over the years that the inspiration was limitless. When the time came for me to decide on saving the Silver Certificate deck for another project it was an easy choice because I knew that in order to stay on track with the Fed 52 and Gold Cert decks, I had to not rock the boat with more designs. I also knew that I had a 4th deck, The Reserve Note, and didn't want it to be the sole deck during another project. In the end, the choice came down to what route was going to give me the best chance to produce the finest and highest level of execution possible.
Tuck Case: As a fan of playing cards, are there any decks either on the market or out of print that are favorites? And why?
Jackson: My favorite deck is the Red Aristocrats. Scarlet is my favorite color so that's where the red plays a factor, and the back design is very similar to currency art. It is a design that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so. I love the fact that there is no novelty in the design and that it stands alone on the mere principle that it is a stellar back design.
Tuck Case: Other than your love of currency design and playing cards, what or who inspired you to do this deck?
Jackson: What inspired me the most was the opportunity to create my own idea and the chance that, that creation could be what I do for a living.
Tuck Case: Do you have any advice for anyone that is looking to do a custom playing card project?
Jackson: I would say this to anyone who is thinking about doing a custom deck: There are so many decks coming out that you have to have a stellar idea or concept to act as the bedrock for your deck. If you don't have this, your deck will just be another Kickstarter deck that comes and goes. I don't want my decks to be just Kickstarter decks, I want my decks to be a huge player in the card collecting world. Because of that I will have to execute my decks at a level equal to or greater than that of the Theory 11's, Ellusionist's, and D&D's. I eventually want to be able to produce a deck because I have a following and a reputation of creating the best decks, and not have to use Kickstarter. I think if you are thinking about being a designer of a deck, you need to set the highest standards for yourself and keep iterating on your ideas until you have something that is fresh and new and executed at the highest level.
Also, learn everything you can about the deck production process and what it takes to produce a deck. I have almost 12 years of printing experience that I was able to pull from designing Star Wars toy packages for Hasbro toys, so I had a leg up on the printing process. I have heard so many horror stories of deck creators that get flush with cash after a funded project and don't realize that they were supposed to use templates from USPCC to design their cards in.