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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Mark Wright on Duality



Duality by Maven Playing Cards is headed up by 1st time Kickstarter and Artist Mark Wright. Mark has taken an "Old School" and Classic methodology to his creation. Art, style and function come together in one unique playing card package.

With this being Mark's 1st venture into the custom playing card arena on Kickstarter we were happy to have had a chance to talk to him about his maiden voyage and discuss the concept that is Duality.



Can you tell us a bit about your background and interest in Playing Cards?
I was born in Ft. Worth Texas but I have been living in South America for the past couple of years. The past year I was in Brazil just developing this project. I have been an artist since I was a very small child. I won recognition at both local and state level in high-school. After high school I served in the U.S. Navy. Upon completion I began my adult fine arts career winning national scholarships to help pay the cost of my tuition.  While in college I spent a semester in Florence, Italy studying the great past masters. Ever since graduation I have been traveling the world learning from other great artists. My interest in Playing cards started very early when I just lay with my parents old random decks that they had collected during their travels. I have actually been creating custom decks for a couple decades!!! I used to make my own decks with scissors and glue, ruining what was to my parents, a perfectly usable deck of cards. In fact playing cards have had a major role in my life. From playing games with my sailor buddies aboardmy ship to trading magic tricks in the cafes of the world. A deck of cards has always been there. For me a deck is a lot more than just a box of paper.

Could you describe your deck and what inspired Duality?
Duality is the result of a year of creating and re-creating. Duality is a completely handmade deck of cards. This originally came as a desire to pay homage to the Master of The Playing Cards who was an unknown German Intaglio printer well known for his  playing cards.  Using the technique of Intaglio I created a copper plate (details in the video) for every single card. So the process you see in the video, I had to do at least once for every single card. In many cases 2-5 different times. So doing the math you can see why it took nearly a year to complete. Every single detail was carved into copper by me. When I say hand made, I mean that I did not draw an image and simply live trace or create into a vector. Every single pip had to be created by hand. It was not simply a case of drawing four different suits and layering in a clever way. I literally had to make an over-sized deck of cards using techniques that master craftsmen would have used hundreds of years ago. This is not simply my drawings being digitally re-created. I have seen some designers claim to have handmade decks and as an artist I feel they are disingenuous and not completely truthful. Duality is the ONLY deck that was MADE BY HAND.


Did you go through a "Creative Process" when coming up with the concept and presentation of Duality?
Yes absolutely there was a creative process. Duality is actually the result of two separate decks. For years symmetry has played a huge role in my art and photography, it’s a continuous theme that comes from my love of mathematics and order. So in that respect the symmetry and the traditions of court cards was a very interesting thing to play around with. In addition Mr. Sao Antonio the Master printmaker who helped me bring this project to life, had his own understanding of court card symmetry. He then proceeded to show me the evolution from one way directional court cards to the more familiar images you see today. He made a print of a full body king and then began showing me why the print-maker was the one who was responsible for the symmetry we all know today.  All of a sudden the Suicide King made complete sense to me. At this point my eyes and my mind changed in the way I saw the courts of modern playing cards. So as a print-maker I naturally I felt that it was important to create my own permutation of this symmetry. There were no extras drawn in the cards. The faces you see in Duality are simply the result of existing accepted forms, taking those forms and transforming them with rotational symmetry until it was almost indistinguishable from the original. While the others I purposely left a bit more obvious to show the different levels of symmetrical change. One of the most noticeable sets of court cards in Duality is the clubs.

Many designers use many different mediums and tools for their work, what are your "Tools of the Trade"?
For Duality I wanted to try and replicate the tools and materials that would have been available to the Master of the Playing Cards. This was a lot easier said than done. Amazingly in Brazil I had the opportunity to use a 19th century French Intaglio Printing Press. While the Master of Playing Cards was a 14-15th century artist, I felt that this equipment would serve its purpose and probably be the furthest back in history I would be able to go.


What made you decide to throw your hat into the ring of "Custom Playing Cards"?
I decided to finally make one of my decks a reality couple of years ago. As stated earlier I have been making my own homemade decks for years so I felt that I needed to bring my love and professional training into the mix and create something that has not been done in modern playing card design. I could have created something that looked exactly like what was already out there or I could take a chance and deviate wildly from the norm while using those very same conventions as my guidelines.

This being your 1st Kickstarter project, what would it mean to have Duality go from concept to reality?
To have Duality go from a concept to a reality would mean the world for me. Though this was a personal project that took me across 2 continents to make, I also made this for all of the people out there that like me, have a burning attraction to playing cards. To give something I made out of love and to be able to share that with the world is a truly remarkable thing and is the dream of most artists.

But it would also mean that I would have the resources to continue making new decks and I could continue exploring and pushing the boundaries of playing cards.

Lastly, are there any Playing Card Designers that inspired you to move forward with your project and do you collect any of their work?
Yes I am a long time collector of decks. Most of my collection, I only know the country they came from. No manufacturer or artist. But in regards to past Kickstarter projects, I think Lorenzo really hit a home run with his Heretic deck. I was in South America at the time and was I was not able to pledge for that one unfortunately. I also like the original Federal 52 and I credit Jackson with trying to help bring the old Intaglio processes used in the printing of currency to the forefront of cardistry. 
Creating a deck of cards is an old old art and I believe it should be treated with the respect it deserves. I don’t believe it should be reduced to simple copy and paste MS paint decks. 


Duality is being printed by The Expert Playing Card Company and still has 14 days to go on Maven Playing Cards inaugural project, so there is still time to become a backer. 

We want to thank Mark for his time during his busy campaign, to find out more about the Duality head on over to the project page, currently still LIVE on Kickstarter and help make this concept a reality for Maven Playing Cards. You can also follow Maven Playing Cards on Facebook for more up to the minute information and future projects. 

We wish Mark all the luck in the world on his project........now go check it out!
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