Clipped Wings Playing Cards is a deck inspired by birds created by paper-cutting maestro, Emmanuel Jose. Emmanuel is well known for the Curator Playing Cards, a popular transformation deck which incorporate the suits into a design. Like its predecessor, Clipped Wings is a fully custom transformation deck featuring 55 unique works of art, all entirely cut by hand.
While preparing for his Kickstarter project, we had the chance of catching up with Emmanuel about his design background, his unique paper cutting style & ideas and thoughts on Kickstarter.
Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
I’m an artist and I recently moved to New York City. I was born in the Philippines, and I grew up in San Diego, California and Raleigh, North Carolina. Art runs in both sides of my family, and I’ve been artistic since I was very young. I double majored in art and psychology at Davidson College, North Carolina.
You are well known for your first unique paper-cut style playing card, the Curator Deck. Can you briefly explain what the paper cutting technique is and how did you get started?
I use scissors and an X-acto knife to cut paper and create images. That’s pretty much all there is to the paper-cutting technique, haha.
I did some paper-cutting-related school projects here and there when I was young, but I gained a new appreciation of it when my art teacher in high school introduced us to an amazing Chinese paper-cutting artist. Even after meeting him though, I didn't immediately start cutting. A couple years later in college, paper-cutting came up again when we studied some modern and contemporary artists for class. Later, when I was home during summer break, I decided to make some paper-cutting art to entertain myself. From that point on, I made more and more paper-cutting art.
Clipped Wings will be your second playing card project but first on Kickstarter. Why Kickstarter?
After the Curator deck was produced and released, I eventually reached the point where I wanted to manage my own decks and have my own control over my work. I’m going with Kickstarter since it has allowed a number of designers and artists to produce their own decks of cards.
What is your inspiration behind Clipped Wings? How did you come up with the idea?
When I was a young boy, I had pet birds, and they were talking myna birds. Those birds were amazing since they could say your name and mimic human speech. I’m very fond of birds, and I also had a lot of bird ideas running through my head as I was making the Curator deck. When I noticed how many of those ideas I had, I decided to make my second deck all about birds.
How much time did you spend working on the deck?
The Clipped Wings deck took a whole year to complete since I make one card a week. A single card can take anywhere from 1 to 5 days to complete.
Can you briefly go through the evolution for one of your unique card designs?
The ace of spades for Clipped Wings is a bird in a birdcage because it’s based on the myna birds I had as pets. The idea for it came pretty quickly, and the paper-cut card doesn't differ from what I had first sketched out. For a more complicated card like the paper crane 10 of Diamonds, I studied origami instructions and had to make sure that the paper crane instructions could be depicted in only 10 steps. It was impossible to have all the diamond pips be the same size while still showing the origami steps, so I made the decision to alter the size and shape of the diamonds. I had known months in advance that I was going to do a paper crane as the 10 of diamonds, but I didn’t know what it would look like yet.
Here's an exclusive look at the paper cutting technique from Emmanuel's next deck Sawdust:
Finally, what are your thoughts about the continuous strong growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter?
I believe that the strong growth of projects will make playing cards better. Kickstarter is saturated right now with great and not-so-great decks, but successful decks ultimately raise the bar for the entire cardistry community. The beauty and artistry of playing cards continues to be elevated and celebrated, and there’s no complaining about that!
I totally agree! Thank you for your time Emmanuel and all the best! If you like what you’ve read here and want to support the Clipped Wings Playing Cards, you can find it on Kickstarter here.
This deck will be Bicycle branded and printed by the USPCC with air-cushion finish. Pledge starts from $11 and there are multiple add-ons available such as uncut sheets, art prints, art book and paper-cut art.