I am not quite sure what, but there is something very appealing about this deck. Olde Bones is a unique deck of playing cards inspired by an elegant death style of imagery. The deck contains themes of death, magic, and fate woven throughout its narrative.
Designed by Emily Ross, each individual cards is a work of art by itself but together, these 54 cards explores mankind's' struggle to overcome mortality through fame, memory, or even good old-fashioned necromancy. With its soft subtle dark shaded colours, each card is infused with heart and passion in a journey to explore these fundamental questions. This deck is produced by the Toronto Playing Card Company (TPCC).
We managed to catch-up with Emily and Kevin, founder of TPCC to chat about TPCC, Emily's design background, the inspiration behind the Olde Bones, the design evolution of the deck and Kickstarter.
This is Toronto Playing Card Companys’ first Kickstarter Project. What is the Toronto Playing Card Company and why Kickstarter?
Kevin: The Toronto Playing Card Co is an intersection of two passions: playing cards and art. We work with highly skilled artists - such as Emily - to produce beautifully crafted decks of playing cards. Our belief is that playing cards are an art medium like few others. Where else can you spend 10 or 15 bucks to receive 54 beautiful portraits that an artist has painstakingly poured themselves into? To even be involved in this process is a privilege. We chose Kickstarter as the platform to launch this project for the incredible reach that it has. Creating any Kickstarter project instantly exposes you to a global marketplace. We literally have supporters for our deck from all around the world. A Kickstarter project page also functions as a homebase for your project’s community. Supporters who visit the page can view the latest updates and interact directly with the project creator and other people who share their same passions. This is another factor that makes Kickstarter such a powerful tool.
Emily, can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
Emily: I am originally from Vancouver, BC, and came to Toronto to be part of the awesome art scene here. I have several years background in fine arts, mainly in traditional drawing and acrylic/oil painting, and digital painting as well. I have dabbled in many other things. Currently I am entering my second year at OCAD U. I'm a huge fan of narrative artwork such as is in this deck, and also animation, graphic novels, pretty much any kind illustration. I've been doing art of all kinds for as long as I can remember, and it's been amazing to have been part of a project like this one.
What is your inspiration behind the Olde Bones Playing Cards? How did you come up with the idea?
Emily: The deck has a style, mood and theme I work with a lot, but the themes of death and fate that are prominent here were just so perfectly suited to a deck of cards - being an age old tool of both divination and chance. Life is chance, and so is death... The characters in the deck are all caught up in all of their dilemmas, which are all tied finally to the great dilemma - mortality, that none of them really has any influence over... aware of this or not. I guess this is every mortal's dilemma. It's something I think anyone can relate to, and definitely a very personal issue for me.
How much time did you spend working on the deck?
Emily: Quite a bit! But honestly, I had so much fun creating the artwork for this deck. I would love to do another one someday, actually - maybe a tarot deck. I spent most of the time on the character designs, and the suit 'motifs' - besides each character being unique, each suit has its own unique look as well. No detail was overlooked! I think (I hope, anyway!) that the more time people spend looking at these cards, the more of these subtle details they will notice. My hope is that it adds even more longevity to owning and playing with this deck.
Can you briefly go through the design evolution of one of your unique card design?
Emily: It usually starts with the idea for the character, and I usually have a pretty clear picture in my head of who they are before I start drawing. I start out with a rough compositional sketch, to see how it will look on the card, then I start to refine the character design. As I'm doing this I am keeping very much in mind the other cards in the suit, and how their designs will all tie together to make up the four-card narrative. I like to incorporate a lot of symbolism and subtleties. I won't elaborate too much on the details of the narratives themselves, as I think it's more fun to leave them open to interpretation.
What are your thoughts about the continuous strong growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter?
Kevin: The continued growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter can only be a good thing! While there is some part of me that is afraid it may lead to playing card fatigue, I think the real effect it has is to raise the bar for all projects. Playing card projects are often inspired by other playing card projects. As the quality of these decks evolve, it drives the next generation of decks to push their limits even further. The result is the beautiful decks we have seen produced in recent days that I would consider as no less than works of art. Consumers are also very sophisticated now. A project creator who comes along and simply modifies the colours on the standard faces will probably not get funded.
Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks?
Kevin: The most stunning deck of cards I have ever witnessed (and that hangs on my wall) is the Ultimate Deck by Dan & Dave and in collaboration with Stranger and Stranger. Everytime I look at this deck something new reveals itself. It is a deck that continually gives back. Jackson Robinson’s Federal 52 deck is also a personal favourite. The extraordinary level of detail found in each card is remarkable.
Thank you both for your time and all the best! If you like what you’ve read here and want to support the Olde Bones deck, you can find it on Kickstarter here.
Pledge starts from CAD$14 and will be printed by the USPCC. There are also multiple rewards that are waiting to be unlocked once the project hits its stretch goals. The uncut sheets is available as an add-on and will surely be a conversation piece.