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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Derek McKee of Deckades Playing Cards



Created by Derek McKee and illustrated by Logan Max, Deckades Playing Cards showcases America in the roaring 1920's, a boisterous period characterized by rapidly changing lifestyles, financial excesses, the fast pace of technological progress and the Stock Market Crash of 1929 that heralded the end of the boom-times, and the following Depression years in the 1930's. Deckades tells the epic story of hardships and triumphs Americans enjoyed and endured.

The time periods have been depicted in 2 decks of playing cards. The first deck depicts the 1920's and then the second deck depicts the 1930's. Both decks have beautifully illustrated back designs showing Main Street America. Each deck also has art deco inspired tuck cases, aces, and jokers that illustrate the perception of each decks' perspective years.

We managed to have a quick chat with Derek about his design background, the inspiration & design process behind Deckades, his experience from his previous Kickstarter projects and thoughts about the growth of crowd-funded playing cards.

Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
My name is Derek McKee, I grew up in Denver, Colorado but currently live in Los Angeles, California. I am primarily a number geek and a concept creator, more on the business side of playing cards. My designer Logan Max is extremely talented when it comes to the actual illustration.



Can you describe Deckades deck and why you are passionate about it?
The Deckades is a series that I am really passionate about because both decks illustrate what main street America may have looked like in the 1920's and then in the 1930's. I find something very poetic about playing cards that tell a story. This deck series is all about how we can feel like we have everything figured out and never be so wrong. The illustrations on the 20's deck are all about glamour and excess just like what that era was all about, the 30's deck is all about how we had everything and then lost it because of neglect and misuse. The 30's deck is my favorite of the two because it reminds us of what we as a nation have endured and ultimately made us a better nation.

Walk us through the process you took to design this unique deck. How did you get to this finished product?
Every great thing starts with an idea. After our first deck The Melies Logan and I were sitting in my moms office trying to think of what the next deck could be. Logan and I have been friends since the 1st grade so naturally we started thinking about books that we had mutually read in school. We wanted to find a way to tell the story of Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities through a deck of playing cards. Both of us have always had a passion for history and especially loved early 20th century American history. By combining the concepts of The Tale of Two Cities with the Roaring 20's and the Depression of the 30's Deckades were born.



From the project page, what are a few of your favorite reward levels and why?
I love any pledges with mixed decks. This series although both decks can stand on their own look great as a set. When it comes to Kickstarters I like to keep it simple by having only cards and maybe one or two add-ons so backers don't get overwhelmed with all the items.

You have successful completed the Voyagers deck. What are a few key elements and principles you incorporated into your project that you think future Kickstarter creators could benefit from knowing?
The biggest thing I have learned about doing a playing card project on Kickstarter is keeping backers in the loop throughout the whole process. As a creator you should always expect delays like the artwork taking longer than expected to finalize or the factory closing for two week for maintenance.

Then you have shipping, when handling so many orders that a playing card project naturally gets packages will get lost in the mail, people won't fill out the info form, decks get damaged or decks get returned to you. Its just probability that if you ship out 200 or 300 packages some packages will have issues. The right thing to do is to keep backers in the loop and being 100% upfront and honest when an issue arises.

What are your thoughts about the continuous strong growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter?
It's incredible. The playing card community as a whole does an amazing job at supporting independent creators. Its really cool to see all the decks people are coming out with.



Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks?
Hmmm so many to pick! I was inspired to do playing cards when Chris Chelko's Whispering Imps were on Kickstarter. For me the coolest thing was seeing somebody create an extremely beautiful deck that also tells a story in history so naturally thats my favorite deck. Dan and Dave also consistently put out really high quality decks, especially the Fulton Octobers and the Hi My Name Is Mark collaboration would be in my top five.

Great insights, Derek! Thank you and all the best! If want to support Deckades, you can find it on Kickstarter here


Deckades Playing Cards will be available in two editions: the 20's and 30's. Both decks are unique and fully customised. These elegantly crafted decks will be printed by USPCC. Pledge starts from $12. No other add-ons are available for this project.


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