In late 2012 the designing duo of Scott and Sara Perry, better known in the card community as UnCommon Beat, released their first project via Kickstarter to great support and backing. The deck was Urban Punk, a Graffiti Street Art Inspired Deck that lent itself to the rebellious undertones and punk subcultures.
” We viewed both the physical cards and traditional designs as a “washed out” concrete wall where the bits of stencil-style graffiti imagery are the energizing and vibrant pop”
About a year later the duo once again took to Kickstarter and the release of their second deck, The Black Book of Cards, a beautiful typographic deck that was a complete change of direction from their first project. The unique design concept and intricate detail, along with the “Book” theme that carried through the debossed leather like texture of the tuck and onto each individual card in the deck struck a chord with collectors and enthusiasts alike. Built on a simple statement…
“We all have a card within the playing card deck assigned to us based on the day we were born”
The project funded in approximately 12 hours of launching and kept a steady momentum reaching over 3000 backers.
Currently working on their new project, Manifesto, Scott and Sara were nice enough to find some time to collaborate on this piece and give us all a little insight into UnCommon Beat.
Tell us a bit about how you ended up at this point, with your careers as well as UnCommon Beat:
“After being in the corporate grind for 7+ years in Chicago directly after college, (Scott worked his way up through the ranks at a Software Development Company and I was in the Advertising/Media world working with some of the largest Consumer Package Good Companies in the US), we knew we wanted something different from life and so we made a hard decision to pack up and start out on something new. We were both excelling in our fields but knew there was so much more we wanted to do that our lives at the time would not allow. It was not an easy decision, and at times felt like we were stepping off into an enormous unknown abyss. The short version of the story is that this journey took us across the world and back again, to places like Singapore, Netherlands, England, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Mexico.
We’ve experienced a lot during that time, met a lot of amazing people, and it has brought us to where we are today…two dedicated individuals with a combined background in Computer Information Science – Software Development, Graphic Design/Arts, Marketing, Product Management and a whole lot of gumption☺. setting out to create an entrepreneurial experience for our supporters that brings to life new and unique ideas to the market. Now a days, you will most likely find us with our heads down focusing on what’s next, chatting with our Kickstarter backers, and drinking lots of coffee.”
With the design background you both have, what attracted you to playing cards as a medium?
“Our love of playing cards started with our love of card games. Eventually this led to seeing playing cards as an artistic medium and collecting. But it’s not just the amazing designs on playing cards that we find fascinating but the time, attention, and quality of the playing cards themselves. Not many canvases out there involve a team of nineteen plus people to produce, extremely expensive machinery, proprietary methods/materials, and have such a rich history. When getting a deck of cards, you get the whole package (beautifully design cards and a well-crafted medium) and we feel that is extremely unique. Playing cards are a fantastic way to express an artistic idea through an affordable, tangible, and usable medium - something complicated and dynamic yet so compact that it all fits in the palm of your hand.
That in itself we think is just brilliant.”
The Black Book of Cards is such a unique deck, how much time went into the design concept and creation?
Roughly a year went into the design and concept. When we started working on the Black Book of Cards, we decided we really wanted to push the envelope with both the design and the concept of the deck which meant doing something we had never seen done before at a scale we had never seen it done. While coming up with the design idea and refining the concept for the Black Book, we decided there would be two different deck series stemming from the BBoC. One deck series would focus on the design idea that we created for Black Book and the other one would focus on the concept of the Black Book of Cards – the concept that we all have a card in the deck (mine’s the three of diamonds and Sara’s is the two of diamonds☺) and that every card in the deck should be completely unique, collectible, and a piece of art in its own right. (This is where the launch of the next deck in the collection comes in…the Black Book Manifesto coming to Kickstarter this July)
When it comes to the design of the Black Book of Cards, we spent months creating and building the different elements…which includes our signature expansion of the pip designs to our approach to achieve perspective and form. All of these choices were made to achieve a design concept that would both be signature to the Black Book and allow for flexibility in designing future decks using these same design concepts in different ways [i.e., a black book version using pattern, one using symbols, etc.].
All this and the fact that every single card was completely unique, translated to loads of testing, working/re-working and refinement to 54 different designs. We ran hundreds of test sheets to make sure that every card was something we would be proud to have as “our” card.
The Black Book of Cards was quite a different direction than your 1st deck, Urban Punk, why a typographic deck for your second outing?
Urban Punk was originally created to accompany a game we had developed where the concept was about changing the rules and doing things your own way. Looking back now, we can see how Urban Punk truly reflected a lot of what we felt in our lives at the time…the breaking out from the norm, striving to do something different, and celebrating the differences in those around us.
The Black Book carries on some of the same undertones. One idea we were hoping to promote through the Black Book was the idea of taking a moment to see and celebrate the characteristics of those around us. We even tried to continue this via our website through the “Email a Friend their Card” feature.
As for why we chose typography for the Black Book, it was because of two main reasons (outside of our love for typography of course). The first reason, as we mentioned earlier, was to do something completely new, something that would both challenge our skills AND push the limits on what had been achieved on playing cards.
The second reason we chose a typographic deck was that it was the ideal way to introduce the concept that everyone has a card, every card is unique, and each card could be meaningful in different ways.
Do you have a "Creative Process" you go through when coming up with a new concept?
The process typically starts with verbally brainstorming an idea and talking through every aspect of that concept. This would be followed up by rough sketches, a collage-type draft board to see if the concept has visual appeal. If we feel like there’s teeth in the concept, we feel passionate about it, and it fits into our current work load, we then move to pursue it.
Once we decide on the concept, from there, the actual design process can take on different forms depending on the project. In the spirit of our upcoming Black Book Manifesto Kickstarter, we thought it would be fun to share a development piece of the Queen of Hearts. When tackling the court cards, we envision it almost like it’s a block of clay where we mold the design - continuously refining, adjusting, and shaping to form each face.
One interesting fact about the Manifesto deck is that all of the face cards are based on the Arrco standard court card faces☺.
Outside of card design, do you have any other design projects that you are involved in currently or would like to explore in the future?
We have a host of other design projects we’re currently pursuing but there is one that we’re particularly excited about which, even though it does have a big card design aspect, reaches far beyond.
As we stated earlier, we have plans for a series of decks which will be based on the concept behind the BBoC.
Since the Black Book Collection is about treating each card as its own piece of artwork based on the notion that we all hold a card within the deck, we wanted to expand on this concept by teaming up with different talent artist to create the art for each and every card. (A concept that I’m really excited about as I find myself checking every deck I buy for the two of diamonds to see if it’s something I want to put on my wall.)
This series will not only provide a nice addition to card collections but reaches far beyond into the tangible space. Imagine walking into an art gallery and seeing 54 paintings from different artist all with cohesive elements representing different cards in the deck. It’s a way we can help take this medium we have all come to love so much and re-introduce it to others in a new way.
The feedback we have heard from different artist has been so positive that we could not wait to get backers involvement to help make this series one of a kind.
This is where the Black Book Manifesto comes in. The Black Book Manifesto deck, which will be launching on Kickstarter July 9th at Noon EST, will be the foundation for this Artist deck series to follow. How? To see more about the Manifesto deck and what’s to come…check out the feature page we developed to explain further: The Black Book Collection: Manifesto
Any final thoughts or comments?
We realize that you’re typically the interviewer but we would like to take a second to ask you a question…a little lazy Susan interview action if you will :). This is completely off the wall and completely goofy but that’s how we roll….☺
If you had to describe your personality as a tuckbox, what would your tuck box be like? Covered in bling foil, minimalistic, etc…
Well, usually at this point I’m thanking people for collaborating on the piece, but I wouldn’t want to be rude to Scott and Sara and just brush off their question. So, how would I describe my personality as a tuck box, hmmmm, well I would be a dark rich matte brown or other earth tone, with a bold design and intricate line work that would be embossed and gold foiled……..ya, that’s it. Oh who am I kidding, look up the Bicycle Brosmind deck……..I’m a little goofy and always looking at the lighter side of life ☺
Anyway………I really want to thank both Scott and Sara for taking the time out of their busy schedules to share a little of their background and future plans. The Black Book of Cards is one of my favorites, I love the concept and the tuck on its own is just beautiful, but more so, it was my very first Kickstarter deck, so it holds a special place in my collection, and Scott and Sara were one of the first designers I reached out to, just to make conversation about the product and they’ve been nothing but pleasant and fun to deal with over the last year. That being said, I’m very excited about Manifesto and I encourage everyone to visit the web site for more insight into the project.
You can find out more about Manifesto and all of UnCommon Beats projects, past and present by visiting their web sites UnCommon Beat , The Black Book of Cards , as well as follow them on Facebook to keep up to date on all the newest happenings.
This exclusive 1-on-1 is written by Anthony Ingrassia for kardify. No part of this article can be reproduced without written permission from the author. You can check out Anthony's awesome collection at sparkzcollector or follow him on Facebook-SparkzCollector