Lorenzo Gaggiotti is at it again! After the successful and highly acclaimed Requiem Playing Cards, Lorenzo just released what look like another hit on Kickstarter, Heretic Playing Cards. This masterfully crafted deck is a heresy in many ways. It´s based on alchemy and the hermetic world. Salt (for the Jacks), Sulfur (for the Queens) and Mercury (for the Kings) are the three basic ingredients of the alchemist. There is a whole list of heresies listed on the project page.
Heretic was designed before Requiem Playing Cards, however it remained with a company which ended up not printing it. Lorenzo famously took Heretic back, tweaked, improved on the artwork & design and finally launching it on Kickstarter.
Between his busy schedule, we were able to catch-up with Lorenzo for a quick Q&A on the Heretic Playing Cards, Expert Playing Card Company, design and evolution of Heretic and some advice and thoughts from his previous project.
Can you describe the Heretic deck and why you’re passionate about it?
Heretic is based on Alchemy, sacred geometry and hermetism. These 3 themes have a big aura of mystery and they are interconnected. Since alchemy is the closest thing to magic, I wanted to bound these themes with the world of playing cards. Heretic is also my very first deck. It was designed even before Requiem.
I started working on it in September 2012 and the first name was “Der Alchemist”. In 2013, I managed to find a producer and we decided that it was better to find other name than Alchemist or Alchemy, since there was already a lot of decks with the same name. I had a list of names and Oracle was the choice. Then it passed one year and nothing happened, it was a constant postponing the release to a date that sounded as “never”. Meanwhile Chris Ovdiyenko released his beautiful Oracle deck and I started to work on Requiem.
After Requiem I cancelled the contract with this company and I took it back, renamed it, improved it and what you see today is the result of many months of work, redesign, tweaks, changes and improvements. I'm passionate about it because I love the theme and the symbols, the style and because it is “my first son” that took 2 years to get out.
Heretic will be printed by the Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC). How did you come to this decision to use EPCC and were there any challenges when you approached them?
I was quite unhappy with USPCC during and after Requiem because they charge a lot, they are inflexible, slow in responding and they do not do any kind of discount. Just asking money on things that should be granted, as the printing proofs.
The biggest problem with USPCC is that they do not print the quantity you ask. There is always a +10% overproduction and they ask the money for it. That´s not fair at all. Let´s have a realistic scenario (and it´s important to understand this): After the campaign I count 3250 decks. I want 200 for myself (total 3450). At USPCC I have to order 3500. But they say that there might be a -+10% of production. Worst case scenario: 3150 or 3850. If I order 3500 and they produce 3150 I don't have enough for the backers. If I order 4000 the worst case scenario is 3600. It fits. BUT, if they produce 4400 I have to pay all of them. Even the +400 in excess. It happens in 90% of the cases that they produce this damn +10% (or more), but I could not take the risk. Result: 4400 decks produced, 1000 in excess.
EPCC is flexible, dynamic, responsive and the quality of the print, registration and feature is high. I have here Zenith and Exquisite. I do want Heretic being made with that quality. Ok, cardists might disagree, but Heretic is not specifically designed for cardistry. EPCC produces at better prices the requested quantity without insane overproduction.
How much time did you spend working on the deck? Also, can you briefly go through the evolution for one of your unique card designs?
It took me almost 4 months of my spare time to make the first version. Then I worked another month with redesign, changes, tweaks and improvements. The Kickstarter campaign takes another month of work and design. Total 6 months of my spare time (read evenings and weekends).
About the Ace of Spades, well, that´s “the card” in every deck. I did an geometrical structure around it, as I also did for the other aces. But for the ace of spades it was more complex and intricate. There you see all the alchemy symbols and geometric shapes resembling the sacred geometry, sigils, “magic” hermetic cryptic drawings.
From the project page, what are a few of your favourite reward levels and why?
I had this idea of “dynamic pledges”. I don't know if it´s original or not, but I think it´s a good solution for the stretch goals. For example: you pledge for an uncut sheet, and if the Noctis is unlocked you automatically will get 2 uncut sheets: one lux and one noctis. Without adding money.
What are a few key elements and principles you incorporated into your project that you think future Kickstarter creators could benefit from knowing?
I like to do simple things. Simple things are not easy to do. Simplicity is not easy to achieve. As you can see this project has very simple and few pledges. I did the mistake on Requiem of having a long list of possibilities. It complicates the management of the backers and the pledges. 1,2,3,4 decks, uncut sheet(s), one early brick, bricks. (ok, and 3 numbered prototypes that flew away at the speed of light). Another thing is my reluctance to add-ons. I prefer to give something for free as gratitude as I did for Requiem. I want to focus 100% on the decks and their features. The problem for me with add-ons is the long-distance management. Since I'm located in Stockholm, it´s very hard to produce coins or dice, get samples, communicate and work from here.
What are your three favorite Ace of Spades?
Ah! that´s not fair. I like almost all of them. The Ace of Spades is the Ace of Spades. It´s hard to say and I have many in my list...3 of them I really like are from: Venexiana, Whispering Imps and Archangels.
;) Had to make it hard for you! Finally, do you have any other words of wisdom for aspiring artists and designers?
Quality over quantity, focus, study, analyse, observe, have care for details, be consistent and patient. It´s hard to design a deck of playing cards, and it takes time. It´s hard to stay in that area where your deck is perceived as custom card deck, instead of tarots, merchandise licensed decks, cards for kids or copy-paste color-swap jobs. It´s a challenge to keep a classic feeling and apply a modern/different look.
Looks like another hit Lorenzo! Thanks for your time and honest insights. All the best!
Heretic Playing Cards will be available in two editions: Lux and Noctis (if Stretch Goal is reached). Both decks are completely unique and 100% customised. These beautifully crafted decks will be printed by EPCC at the highest quality stock with 'Master Finish'. Pledge starts from $11. With the exception of uncut sheers, no other add-ons are available for this project.
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