Designers: Big Blind Media Interview Part II- Dose Production's Sam Hayles Discusses Karnival Elite

This is part II of a two part interview series with Big Blind Media. Part I interview with Big Blind Media's Owen Packard can be read here

As Owen Packard mentioned in Part I of the Big Blind Media Interview, he calls on the creative mind of Sam Hayles. Sam is the designer for all of Big Blind Media/Karnival playing cards and is not new to the style Owen seeks to obtain. Sam runs Dose Productions out of Edinburgh where his design background reaches back to the late 90's. With Dose Productions, Sam has created some of the darkest, most bomb-dropping and edgiest designs to ever grace the music scene and now the playing card and magic industry.

Sam's work defies what we thought we knew with designs that range from futuristic color bombs to abstract premonitions of the apocalypse... or of an alien abduction...or of a trip to Hell. And just when you thought Sam was only about heavy metal, he throws in a touch of elegance and sophistication. It is all there.  His most colorful designs are his darkest designs with a depth that just can't be reached. Sam Hayles' artwork is all out madness that sucks you in every time you pick up a deck of his cards or flip through the cover art of an album he designed.

In Part II of our interview with Big Blind Media/Dose Productions, spoke with Sam about his venture into the playing card world and his thoughts on the upcoming Karnival Elite.

Tuck Case: In terms of concept and design, what kind of images/imagery can we expect with this deck? and why did you go with those images?
Sam Hayles: The concept for this deck : Elegance, dark and baroque. I used lots of ornaments and also images of imaginary animals like unicorns and a phoenix.

The deck is all black with lots of white and a hint of red. No skulls in this one. Oh surprise! Just to prove that we can do it!

Tuck Case: How long was this deck in the making?
Sam Hayles: I would say a couple of months as we first talk about the concept of the deck and then find and decide on the the name. We then try out different typography. I then work on experimenting the first designs to find the style we will use on the full deck. I usually start with the Ace Of Spades or the back design.

I did a nice owl design for this one but at the end we didn't use it as we only wanted to use imaginary animals.

Tuck Case: Since your decks have a lot of "heavy metal" imagery, what bands have you been listening to lately while designing? Any specific band on your playlist during the creation of Elite?
Sam Hayles: This was done between end of 2012 and beginning of 2013. I always listen to music when I work so I do have a LOT in stock.

I can't remember what was on my playlist during the Elite period of creativity. I am currently enjoying listening to the latest albums from Alice In Chains, Queens of the Stone Age, Boards of Canada, Clutch, and Earthtone9. My regular favs in my playlist are bands like Faith No More, Soundgarden, Interpol, NIN, Killing Joke, Fugazi, Massive Attack, Napalm Death… I also listen to a lot of film soundtracks.

Tuck Case: It is known that USPCC/Bicycle censored some of your work from being printed. How has that impacted you and your work going forward?
Sam Hayles: It hasn't changed a thing really. I oppose all kind of censorship and I truly believe that the worst thing about censorship is........

Tuck Case: What do you use to design? What is your tech setup/workstation?
Sam Hayles: I am a pure 100% Mac user. My dad bought the first Apple Macintosh in 1984 and as a kid I was like amazed by this machine.

Today - I have a Macbook pro, the latest iMac 27" with a second 24" screen and a good old Power Mac G5, which has been serving me well for more than 7 years now.

I mainly use Photoshop and Illustrator. I don't use a tablet much. I rather draw on paper and scan in my drawings.

Tuck Case: What advice can you give other designers looking to produce a custom deck of cards?
Sam Hayles: Be original and creative and do your own thing.

Here are some of Sam's designs courtesy of as well as a video of Karnival Elite Playing Cards in action by Ric Edgell:

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  1. [...] A DOSEPROD INTERVIEW with Sam Hayles “Sam Hayles artwork is all out madness that sucks you in every time you pick up a deck of his cards or flip through the cover art of an album he designed” >> CLICK [...]