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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Randy Butterfield of White ORNATE Playing Cards



The ORNATE series has to be one of the best playing card decks released in 2012. It not only exude elegance and class but these Baroque inspired deck are also meticulously designed-  the attention to detail and the intricate patterns are second to none. These decks are masterfully created by Randy Butterfield of The Midnight Card Company.

Due to the overwhelming response to the original ORNATE series, Randy and the House of Playing Cards (HOPC) has decided to launch the Grand Finale for the ORNATES by releasing all four White Edition Decks simultaneously - Sapphire, Scarlet, Amethyst and Emerald on Kickstarter. These are some of the most unique decks in the world of modern Playing Cards. They are highlighted by beautiful fans, elaborate details throughout and detailed borders on the Back and Front of every Card.

Having successfully completed his project on Kickstarter last year- the stunning Imperial Playing Cards, Randy is no stranger to the world of crowd-funding. We were fortunate enough to have a quick chat with Randy on his design background, the inspiration behind the ORNATE series, the design evolution of the White ORNATES and on the topic of crowd-funding.



Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
Sure, I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design (Central Michigan University - 1995), and my first job out of college was as a production artist at a prepress company in Toledo, Ohio. That job taught me how to setup clean print files and really multi-task projects efficiently. I moved to the San Francisco bay area in 2000 and found a great job at Motive Marketing. Presently, I'm the Senior Designer for Motive and I work remotely from my home in Indianapolis. During the day I work on designs for the alcohol industry and at night I work on playing card designs. It's a lot of fun!

This is your second playing card project under the HOPC label. Can you tell us a little about HOPC and the future direction of HOPC on Kickstarter?
HOPC was launched in mid-2012. They are a branch of The Blue Crown that emphasizes on Playing Cards designs by independent artists. Playing Card projects on Kickstarter have grown exponentially since that time, I think HOPC has had to evolve and become a sort of production and fulfillment company for independent artists. Creating a Kickstarter design with HOPC is very similar to a straight release. The extra work comes after the deck is finished - creating the Kickstarter project page and promotional graphics. I have to create presentation graphics a lot for my day job, so it's fun working on one where I don't have to worry about clients' crazy deadlines and odd requests!

I'm not privy to the overall plan for HOPC and Kickstarter. I try not to ask much about other projects and overall plans. My gut tells me that they should have a very bright future on Kickstarter!

What is your inspiration behind the original ORNATES? How did you come up with the idea?
Back when I was thinking about designing a deck, I wanted to do something that was very unique - to sort of break into the playing card world. I was watching an episode of The Tudors and kept noticing the elaborate and over-the-top details on every furniture and set decoration piece. That's when I decided to do a Baroque inspired design and just go crazy with the amount of details within, especially with the back design, borders and face card background patterns.



How is the White ORNATES different from the original?
The White ORNATES have had a sort of facelift from the originals. The Tuck Boxes are completely changed to take advantage of printing all four decks at once. The design elements are mostly the same in the cards themselves, besides a few minor enhancements throughout. The big change in the cards is the way color is treated. The red, blue, purple and green colors really pop off the white/light grey background patterns.

How much time did you spend working on the deck? Also, can you briefly go through the design evolution for one of your unique card design?
I don't remember how long the original Ornates took to complete - maybe 6-8 months? I only get a couple hours a night to work on card projects, so it's not a fast process. The Layered Photoshop files for the Ornates are very complex and involved. Even a "color change" like last year's original Amethyst and Emerald Decks took almost a month to complete. It took a little over two months to revise, re-design and create new elements and Renders for the White Ornates Kickstarter project. When I was finished, It was a little sad knowing it would be the last time working with the Ornate files.

Picture 1

The first, and toughest, designs for the originals were definitely the Back Cards. They evolved a lot as I tried to find the right balance in color and figure out the tricks to creating the necessary symmetrical designs. My First Round designs (Picture 1) had a lot of taboo items for Playing Card design that I just didn't know about at first. The worst being (1) Copy on the top and bottom of the Back Card and (2) The Copper Border and Silver Border were meant to be used together in all of the Face Cards. The Spades and Clubs would have a black background with the Copper Border and the Hearts and Diamonds would have a red background with the Silver Border. Luckily I had removed the ORNATE Copy from the Back Cards before showing the design on the Playing Card forums.

Picture 2

Once I did post the images on the forums, they spun me straight, right away, on the non-functionality of having the Face Cards with two different Borders. So, the final result in the Border was a sort of White Gold hybrid of the Copper and Silver Borders (Picture 2). There were a few other versions between the First Round and the final Back Cards that dealt a lot with finding the right balance between color combos and corner design elements.

57% of the top projects in 2012 missed their delivery dates? What are your thoughts?
I think that has a lot to do with deck designers underestimating the amount of work it takes to finish a deck design, see it through production and get the Pledge Rewards mailed out. Even if I had decided to do a Kickstarter solely on my own, I would've used a fulfillment company to handle the shipping responsibilities. I've had some experience putting together a small amount of packages, well under a hundred. Even at that small number I can only imagine how tough it is to package hundreds of orders. Since I only have a limited timespan at night to work on playing card projects, I would much rather spend it working on designs instead. Plus, after seeing so many Kickstarter designers hit a brick wall when the time comes to get the decks packaged up and shipped out - I want no part of that!



Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks?
I'm usually partial to designs that are polished and consistent with their themes in every single card and box. Although, I do enjoy a nicely designed semi-custom deck as well (re-colored standard face cards). They are always great for Poker night! Some of the Decks I prefer in the last couple years are the Seasons, Artisans, Federal 52, JAQK, Curator, Aurum and Americana Decks.

Thank you for your time Randy and all the best! 

The White ORNATES will be available in Emerald, Sapphire Scarlet and Amethyst. Two separate sets available: Limited Bicycle Set (only 1,000 sets) and Unbranded Set. What I love about the limited edition set is the connective design that follows the curve of the Bicycle logo and forms a sine when all four are placed side-by-side... what an awesome display!



Pledge starts from $12 and there are multiple add-ons available such as Coins and Uncut Sheets. There are also multiple rewards that will be unlocked once the project hits its set stretch goals, most notably the Obsidian Deck- a tribute to the Originals. The White ORNATES will be printed on Aristocrat Stock with Magic Finish by the USPCC and due out to backers on July 2014.

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