The Dawn of Flight Playing Cards is a fully custom deck inspired by the Golden Age of Aviation in the Art Deco era. Designed by Paul Roman Martinez, the creator of the popular Adventures of the 19XX graphic novel series, these classy decks serve as an homage to aviation from the earliest days to the 1930s—a time defined by travel, art deco style and the spirit of adventure.
Paul was nice enough to have a chat with us about his design background, the inspiration & design evolution of the Dawn of Flight deck and playing card projects on Kickstarter.
Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
My name is Paul Roman Martinez. I’ve designed bus stop enclosures, ammo crates, edited TV commercials, built websites, and more. But if there’s one thing people should know about me going into this, it’s that I’m the writer and artist of the graphic novel series, The Adventures of the 19XX.
This is your first playing card project on Kickstarter. Why playing cards?
There is something so pure and simple about the design of a playing card. It’s small, it fits in your pocket, and it has a purpose. It’s graphic design refined down to the simplest form. It’s like an old jazz standard or a classic vaudeville joke. Everyone knows how it ends, every deck has the same numbers and court cards, everyone knows how it works, but the true challenge comes from every creator making them their own. If you can take a deck of 52 cards and do something unique that people will remember you for then that’s truly an impressive accomplishment.
What is your inspiration behind Dawn of Flight Playing Cards? How did you come up with the idea?
I kind of had to do it. I’ve always loved playing cards. When I was a kid I would always steal the Ace of Spades from our Bicycle decks at home and carry them around with me. When I do art prints for my comic series I often find ways to work in playing card motifs in some small way. I just never thought I would have the means to produce my own deck. Aviation is something that makes me happy. I have no idea why, but when see a small airplane touching down on a tiny airport in the evening sun on a cool day I smile.
How much time did you spend working on the deck and can you briefly go through the design evolution of one of your unique card design?
Sure. I couldn’t really say how much time I actually spent on the cards because when I sit down at the computer I work pretty fast. But I will tell you this, I started this deck over a year ago. I did sketches, did some “flavor” pieces to get the look of the logo down and then I walked away. I thought it was going terrible.
With every project I do I can always clearly see the end product. But this time I couldn’t. And I never want to release a weak product, I have too many people counting on me for that. And since I self publish everything I do, every failure sits right on these shoulders.
But the months I spent away served me well. One day I opened the files and started moving things around and all of a sudden I could see the final product again.
What are your thoughts about the exponential increase of playing card projects on kickstarter?
This is a great subject. I was actually just talking to Jackson Robinson of the Federal 52 deck about this. He and I kind of have a similar art background and I really dig his whole vibe. Right now it’s a golden age for playing card art and card collectors. And kickstarter is the tip of that spear. It’s an art creation machine curated by the collectors and fans. What they want to get made, gets made, if something is weak, then they pass on it.
As more playing card projects go live on the site, backers will be able to see more easily what’s a project worth backing and who might be a fly by night creator. The USPCC says it themselves when you start working on a deck with them, playing cards are a commodity. And as such they have to be labeled a certain way according to the US government. By definition a commodity is an item “without qualitative differentiation across a market”. Well that’s no longer true about playing cards. It’s exciting to watch all the projects go live from creators who have nothing to lose and are trying anything to make their decks unique.
The real winners are the collectors. With every artist trying hard to outdo each other and push the envelope of what you can create between those 52 cards we have really become artisans who have the power to elevate the whole industry. There are these moments in time in every art form where you can feel things shift as the status quo is torn down to build a new model. With Jazz I think of Miles Davis and the birth of the Cool era in the 1950s, with comic books it was the indie boom of the early 90s with the founding of Image Comics, with film it was the advent of digital video and non-linear editing, and now we have card artists foregoing the large manufacturers and taking their decks directly to the people.
You have previously launched 3 successful projects on Kickstarter. Are there any takeaway lessons from your previous projects you would like to share?
I have a few rules when it comes to Kickstarter. One is to under promise and over deliver. That means don’t promise what you can’t deliver and always try to save some surprises that let people know you’re trying to give them more than they expected. And always ship! Even if you end up making zero profit on a project, always deliver. Even if you have to put a couple thousand on credit cards to pay for shipping, always deliver. And never deliver to stores before backers. Backers always come first.
Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks?
I like a lot of decks, and there are probably a lot I don’t like. But I would have to say my favorite all time series is the Federal 52. In the last few months I also really liked the Seven Seas Decks but I don’t have mine in hand yet so I couldn’t speak for quality. I liked their whole campaign though so I’m sure the cards will be great.
As far as the big companies go I think the Monarchs deck is one of my favorites. It has such a rich feel just holding the pack in your hands. And that’s what a great deck of cards does. Before you even open the pack, if you see it sitting on a table, you should notice the quality and the uniqueness.
Thank you for your time Paul and all the best!
The Airplane Deck in blue and the Airship Deck in red will be printed by the USPCC. Pledge starts from $12 and there are multiple add-ons available such as dealer coin, t-shirt, screen printed posters, uncut sheets and the unique 2-deck folio flight logbook.
Multiple rewards are also available once the project crosses various milestones, such as embossing, silver foil, and other enhancements. Check out the Dawn of Flight and pledge now!