We had the great pleasure of getting a chance to chat with Chris Chelko of Whispering Imps Productions on the upcoming release of the Gamester Playing Cards, the iconic Whispering Imps and more. First and foremost though, mark your calendars for the release of the Gamesters! Chris' new project is scheduled to launch December 15th, 2014 on Kickstarter, you won't want to miss this!
Hope you enjoy the Q&A
Just over a year ago the Original Whispering Imps® were funded on Kickstarter, how long has the planning for Whispering Imps 2 been in development?
Wow, yeah in just over a year there have been 5 decks of the original Whispering Imps released in some form (Original, Special Edition, Black Edition, Private Reserve Red Foil & Gold Foil). Planning for Whispering Imps® v.2 began shortly after all the rewards from the original decks were shipped, sometime around November 2013. By then I already new I wanted the next deck to be designed for card players, and had made a few mock ups of the back design. In January 2014, I began working out various concepts and designs for the Ace, Joker and Tuck, drawing inspiration from Bee, Talley-Ho, Squeezers and Triplicates.
The inspiration for the original Whispering Imps® was Harry Kellar, has that changed for the Whispering Imps 2?
The Imps in Harry Kellar’s portrait poster from 1894 were certainly the inspiration for the original
Whispering Imps deck which was designed for magicians. The v.2’s are designed for the card player and will still represent the charm of the Whispering Imps, but are not the primary focus of card back design.
Who is providing the illustration work for this new deck?
I’ve teamed up again with the incredibly talented Mark Stutzman. His traditional approach to hand inked illustration is something that we just don’t see much anymore in an age where computers dominate the graphics industry. There is something that just feels right about playing cards and hand drawn illustration.
What are some of the unique aspects of this deck in terms of design, color and back story?
The v.2’s, called “Gamesters” was designed for the card player. Gamester came from an old term used to describe one who plays games, especially a gambler. I originally wanted to call them Gamblers, but I didn’t want to bring any confusion to Richard Turners Gamblers deck and so the Gamesters were born.
As we’ve seen with other popular casino back designs, they are often logo based. The Gamesters are no different. Inspired by Wynn, Jerry’s Nugget, Madison Rounders & Fulton’s, the Whispering Imps branded “WI” logo will be represented on the clean, solid color back. The court cards however, are what makes this deck more unique than others, and (in my opinion) practical for the average card player.
The face and court cards have pips that have been angled and tucked as close to the edge as possible on all four corners so that right and left handed players can peek at the cards with the least amount of exposure. It’s a nice advantage to have when playing in close proximity to other players at the table. They will also look really nice when fanned out.
I plan to release them in “Imp Red” and Black back colors, along with Limited Editions of each. The intentional differences in v.1 and v.2 is that the Gamesters have a simple back design and intricate tuck, where the originals have an intricate back design and simple tuck.
Are there any “Surprises” planned for this project and or campaign?
Oohhh probably, but the Imps are keeping that a secret….shhh.
How did the use of the Whispering Imps® on ABC’s “Revenge” come about?
This was a very exciting time for the Whispering Imps®! I received call from my friend Colie Buck (Dave Buck’s wife of Dan & Dave) who is a graphic designer for “Revenge”. She mentioned to me the theme of the episode and what they were looking for and said that the Whispering Imps® would be perfect. So through a special collaboration through Colie, Art of Play and Whispering Imps Productions we were able to give the cards their 15 minutes of fame on prime time network television.
In just a short year the custom playing card industry has boomed, do you have any thoughts on the direction and future of the industry?
I recently wrote a story for Magic Magazine about the rise in custom playing cards (August 2014). I addressed this only briefly, however we have certainly seen the bubble grow in the past 10 years…but not burst. The reason for this growth is because of a surge in crowd funding. If you have the vision, artwork, interest, passion and determination to follow through with a campaign for a deck of playing cards by all means do it…but it’s no easy task. Jackson Robinson, Paul Carpenter, & Uusi for example have designed some of my favorite decks through Kickstarter. Each time, trying something new…whether it’s a style of art, playing with the tuck or creative new printing techniques. I think we are starting to see attention to detail. I think we’ll see higher quality decks being produced in smaller, limited quantities. There are your standard decks and then there are your luxury decks….my hope is that we’ll start to see more decks produced with better papers, foils, & inks on machines that are capable of perfection.
We can't thank Chris enough for his time, information and insight into his projects. You can keep up to date with Whispering Imp Productions on their website as well as Facebook and Instagram. Remember the Gamesters launch on December 15th and keep an eye out for some updates on the campaign as the launch approaches!