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Designers: Realising the Vision with Lotrek of Venexiana Playing Cards



Every success story starts off with an idea, which is then researched, progressively developed and evolves. This idea takes shape, acquires the finer detail and is eventually realised. Here's the question, what do you do when you have THE idea? How do you take the first step in realising your vision into something material? This month, we will look at the first step of turning an idea into reality using the Venexiana Playing Cards as an example.

Lotrek, the designer and the creator behind the successful Kickstarter project, Venexiana Playing Cards gives us a few insights. This beautifully crafted playing cards was initially inspired by Lotrek's love for Venice. "I always wanted to do something dedicated to this city, so I thought that a playing card deck was the perfect vehicle." Lotrek said.

The Venexiana project raised $23k from 788 backers over 75 days. Photo by Melania  
The project raised $23k from 788 backers over 35 days and is Lotrek's vision of 18th century Venice. As he has visited Venice many times, he always carries the city’s essence and he didn’t need to do extensive research with regards to that particular time period, Having said that, he only had to refresh his memory on certain aspects such as costume details and ornamentation..

Early Sketch of Ace of Spades
In terms of historical accuracy, "I can say that they're pretty accurate although this was not a priority for me." Lotrek assured, "Venice itself is not an accurate place after all." In my humble opinion, one would definitely have a picture of 18th century Venice by looking at the Venexiana deck.

To get started on an idea, books and the internet (of course!) are always a good source of historical research material. Lotrek explained, "I visited two libraries. The one I have in my house which, thanks to my wife's frenzy for books is a valuable source for almost anything on earth and the huge library that is the internet, to find some specific details." He added, "Also not forgetting the visits to the huge museum called Venice!"

Early Sketch of Ace of Spades
Lotrek then progressively use the historical research to slowly realise his vision of Venice. "I conceived Venexiana in its historical context, so the deck was evolving as I was doing the research." Lotrek explained, "A picture here, a detail there, a gesture in a painting, all these gave me ideas for the courts. I didn't have to adjust the deck to historical facts."

Some of the court cards on the Venixiana deck is actually based on historical figures. For example, Antonio Vivaldi as the Jack of Diamonds, Lodovico Manin as the King of Hearts and Carlo Goldoni as the King of Clubs. As for the rest of the courts they are imaginary figures. To make them fit with the theme, Lotrek blended these characters with actual places and habits of Venietian life of that time period, thus making them look like figures in an 18th century story.

Sketch for the Jack of Clubs
During the research process, there were a few possibilities in terms of the theme of the deck. For example, the Carnevale Venezia or Venice's masked festival- but he decided against it. Lotrek explained, "I wanted to make a reference to the Carnevale but I didn't want it to be the central theme of the deck. I have to admit that carnival is the least interesting moment of Venice for me. So I decided to have shades of it in the deck and use only the costumes and masks I find most interesting."

Preliminary Sketch of the Jack of Hearts
As the design process began, Lotrek hit the forums to get feedback from potential backers of his design. "Forums are great places to get feedback and to improve a design before you launch a project. They're the people you're addressed to, after all." Lotrek said.

Drawing for box detail
Throughout the research and design process, designs are tweaked and refined based on the feedback to maximize their effect. Interestingly, no one commented on the historical accuracy of the deck. Lotrek joked, "People in forums are more interested in thin borders and two way backs!"

The whole research and design process is time consuming and at times frustrating. But listening to feedback and at times making the hard decision to change makes a difference. In this case, the finished product is exquisite and the look and feel of the deck is simply stunning!

The Venexiana backers are very happy with their deck and that made Lotrek happy.  "I had a tremendously positive feedback, many said that it's their favorite deck in their collection and it is absolutely wonderful seeing that people appreciate your work and I'm grateful to all my backers for this."
Early drawing for the box design

Lotrek:  It is wonderful seeing that people appreciate
your work. Photo by Melania  
If you have an idea and want to make that dream a reality, be prepared! Do your research, plan & organise your designs systematically and then hit the forums. Be prepared to get constructive feedbacks and at times, criticism. Make the necessary tweaks and changes. It can be frustrating and time consuming BUT at the end of the days, they are your potential backers and people do back and support you if you listen and have a good product... that could be the difference between success or failure.

 As for the Venexiana deck, what is next? The first series is almost sold out on Half Moon's website. From some of the feedback he received, Lotrek said, "They gave me the idea for another Venexiana deck, with a dark feeling this time, which will be the second part of the project."

:) Something to look forward to.

The Venexiana Deck. Photo by Melania  

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