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Kings Wild Funded: 7 Questions with Brendan Hong on the Hive 2




[Update] The Hive 2 is now LIVE on Kings Wild Funded!

In 2014 we were introduced to Canadian Illustrator Brendan Hong. His original Hive deck was released to the playing card community to stellar reviews in design and concept. Now, the highly anticipated follow up, Hive 2 will be releasing on Saturday January 17 at 12PM Central on the Kings Wild Funding Platform.

The intricacy and design of the original Hive deck has been surpassed in my opinion, the back design is more detailed than ever and the color pallet is just beautiful. Brendan's unique design style returns in this, once again, completely custom package. The homage to the Bee decks continues, the whimsical Jokers return and the Hive has never looked better.

With the projects launch just around the corner we are honored to be able to share a few images of the upcoming release and can't thank Brendan enough for taking some time out of his schedule to talk with us about a few things, mostly of course, the Hive 2 project.


You’re a relatively new designer in the industry, can you tell us a bit about your artistic background?
 I've been drawing since I've been a kid and I went that very traditional route of going through art and design university to get to where I am. It's not for everyone, but it was quite beneficial to me to meet a lot of different designers and artist. Being in that creative environment is very energizing and I do miss that part of it though I will admit that I didn't miss that projects and projects and deadline after deadline for when everything is due. From there, I've been a freelancer every since working on whatever jobs come my way. It's been interesting being able to create my own projects recently. To briefly sidetrack, I think one of my proudest moments of the original Hive decks were giving some to my professors. These were people that use to bust me down hard when I didn't work hard enough or when my ideas were lack lustre. So when they were amazed by the work and congratulated me on a job well done, that was something special.

You have a very unique artistic style, what inspired your "Look"?
The funny thing about having a "look" is that I use to spend forever when I was younger trying to develop it: to have my own "style". Trying to take this bits and pieces of what I liked that other artist and designers did to create my own look kind of like trying to create your own wardrobe and fashion statement from all over. It worked and it didn't. I think the key moment for me was one of my professors in my thesis year. He was explaining to us, that as artist and designers how we draw is really our unique "language"; this is the way we speak to the world and talk about our ideas. From there it's taken me awhile to get to where I am. So the way I draw is the way I want to visually talk to the world and others. Part of that is that I enjoy shapes and trying to break down objects and items into shapes and the flow of the objects or the lines involved in it.

Hive 2 Standard Edition
The Hive and now Hive 2 both drew inspiration from Bee decks, why the "homage" to the classic playing cards?
I think almost everyone grew up playing with a deck of cards. I've got a ton of fond memories of just playing card games with cousins and family member. Having a lot of friends from around the world now, it's interesting to see which deck they grew up with and how special that deck is. Growing up in Canada, the really good decks were the classic Bicycle Riderback and the Bee deck. There was always something about the Bee Ace of Spade that spoke to me. It's got this beautiful design that feels timeless. So when I decided a deck, I wanted to pay homage to something that was part of my childhood as well as pay homage to other great designs out there in European decks. It's a call back and a thank you to what's come before me as I try to step forward.

What kind of challenges did designing the Hive 2 present when trying to be its own deck, yet connected to the original?
The challenge is just not making another copy of the first deck. I think it would have been very easy to continue with things and ended up with a version 1.1 kind of deck, which I realized and knew that I didn't want to do. I wanted Hive 2 to be part of the same series as the first, but yet still be fresh and unique, to stand on its own. Part of all this was a challenge to myself to keep creating new things I could be proud of. Part of how I did that rendering the artwork different where as the first deck was my styles with a textured cutout look to it, I kept things, this time around, more graphic and a bit flat. Another part that helped was in between the two decks, I grew as an artist and designer so I could take the new stuff I learned and put it into Hive 2. My "look" helps serves as the connection between the two deck. It's an odd balance act of trying to be new, but not too different as to not fit in with the series any more.

Do you have a creative process when working on a design or concept?
I'm very traditional and old school in how I work. I just take pencil and paper and just draw and draw and draw before I even take my roughs into the computer. Eventually, something comes together or I stop and look at what I've done to see what works. It's a great free flowing process though sometimes it's a bit hard as I'm pressed for time and need to get it done. There's honestly a lot of freedom with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. It has this unlimited possibility that anything can come out and it's all just waiting to be drawn. If I'm just sketching, then I let my mind go and draw whatever it wants to dry. If I'm working on a project, I try to surround my nearby area with sketches or finalized artwork of what I'm doing to help set the mood. I use to have images on my computer too that I pull up, but I try to shy away from that for free of subconsciously copying what's there. But mostly, I try to have fun. I figure if that I'm my first viewer and critic that I need to make myself happy with that I've done, too.

Hive 2 Limited Edition
Your also a collector of playing cards, what type of designs do you find appealing?
I think I've got a varied collection, but mostly I try to collect what I enjoy and like, and less for the value of a deck. What would be the point of buying a 400$ deck that I didn't even like? Kickstarter has been amazing for the customized card world and I've got some amazing decks from there: Pagan by Uusi, Deco by Paul Carpenter, Whispering Imps by Chris Chelko (illustrated by Mark Stutzman), the Heretic decks by Lorenzo and of course the Kings Wild decks. Very beautiful art decks that still very usable. Sometimes I also like to collect little odd and quirky decks like the Bicycle Robocycle, Bicycle Brosmind and Bicycle Street Art deck. There's a certain whimsy in them that's a lot of fun. And then of course there are the classic and staple decks from the bigger companies such as the Sentinel, Madison Dealers and the Smoke & Mirrors. Equally, I enjoy a lot of the Conjuring Arts Research Center decks as they always try to do something interesting with playing cards such as unique finishes or having foil on mass production decks, which still being usable.

As a designer and a collector, what do you have any thoughts on the current state of the industry?
 I think we're in very interesting times for the playing card world. Crowdfunding is great is that it allows a lot of creators to be able to create their decks and their own vision as often times, creating something for a company means you have to adhere to their vision instead. As well, it's been fun to see all the technology and development with playing cards that Expert Playing Card Company is trying to create. I think it's a great time to be a designer and I look forward to a lot of interesting decks that will surely come out.

We want to thank Brendan for his time and insight into his latest release, we also wish him the best of luck on a successful campaign. Keep an eye on the Kings Wild Project Facebook page for links to the project as well as the Kardify Facebook page for links and information.

The Hive 2 is now available on Kings Wild Funded!
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