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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Vadim Smolenskiy of the Lumberjacks Second Edition Playing Cards



The Lumberjacks are back and fully redesigned for the new Edition! Designed by Vadim Smolenskiy,  the deck pays homage to the original while making enough changes to keep the deck fun and fresh.

Changes such as the suit pips feature fluorescent blues and reds in place of the traditional black and red colors. Each suit features 3 redesigned court cards portraying and older king, beautiful queen and a younger jack. The 12 court cards have a fine woodgrain border and their respective suits in the right hand corner.

Meanwhile, the back design pays homage to the original. Both the original and 2nd edition have trees, axes, leaves in the corners, and a caption. For the 2nd Edition, the leaves have been revamped, the rope replaced with a woodgrain border, the axes are incorporated into the tree and a new caption is added. Also, the Ace of Spades on the front follows in the foot steps of the "Standard Bicycle" deck and many other decks that feature it on the front.

Just before the launch of the new Lumberjacks, we had a chance to talk to Vadim about his design background, the Lumberjacks deck and his design process.
Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
Sure, but it’s going to be a short story! I’m a visual designer who lives and works in Baltimore. I went to school at the Art Institute of York where I got a degree in digital art. I’ve worked in agencies, corporate, freelance and finally decided to venture out on my own.

Can you describe the Lumberjacks Playing Cards and why you’re passionate about it?
So this is the 2nd edition of the Lumberjacks. It’s an all black deck with fluorescent blues and reds in place of the traditional black and red suits. Fully redesigned tuck, aces, court cards, 2 diptych jokers and a custom number seal. This deck has come a long way from concept, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into it (I think about a year or so) and seeing how it developed and evolved is really cool.

With your creative process, talk to us a bit about going from the first draft to the final version of Lumberjacks v2. How did you get to this finished product?
I almost always start on paper. At this point, it easy to scrap something, turn the page and start something new or carry the same idea, but add a twist to it.

That’s what I did with the 2nd edition. After the first sketches were done, I posted them to UnitedCardists and the Playing Card Forum to get feedback. This is a very important step for me because it gets the design in front of more than just my eyes. Others are able to spot things that I might not be able to at the time because I’m so close to the project.

After some well received feedback, I took the sketches into Illustrator and began to vector the art. Here, I quickly learned that what I drew wasn’t going to reflect well. The proportions were off and the art would be too small on the card, so I had to go back to the drawing board.


I took the template I was working with, blew it up 200%, printed and now I had guide that told me where the middle was and how far out I can go. Now I could draw something and know it would reflect without major issues. So once again, I sketched all of the court cards (face cards) and again, posted them online. After receiving more positive feedback, I once again took the art back into Illustrator and began vectoring it. Every time I had a card that was about 90% complete, I would posted online for feedback. This process continued over and over for all the court cards, aces, tuck box, and jokers. I kept the pip cards relatively standard in both decks because I wanted the functionality to be there. You can actually play with both decks.

Through this process and the feedback from both forums, I redesigned the hair on all cards, modified proportions, added new elements and basically end up with what I have now.

From here, I needed to see what they would actually look like. So I ordered some prototypes and let me tell you, it’s one thing to see the cards on screen, but to be able to hold and play with a physical copy (no matter the quality) before they actually print is simply awesome. The contrast of the fluorescent reds and blues against the black is really cool. Everyone I sent the prototype to really liked what they got.

That’s kinda my process. I feel it’s helpful, it gets more than just me involved and I’ll be improving it as I work on future decks.

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
I think it’s the hair. If you dig back through the forum posts, you’ll see the hair isn’t what it started out to be. There was a lot of criticism regarding how it looked (bananas, snakes, etc!). Thanks to that feedback I was able to modify the hair to what it is now and I think it worked out for the better.

From the project page, what are a few of your favorite reward levels and why? 
The “Decks and Sheets” is probably my favorite. You get one 1st edition deck and uncut sheet and one 2nd edition deck and uncut sheet. It’s just an awesome combo because the 1st edition was all white and the 2nd edition is all black, so you get this yin/yang going on. Not to mention, it’s really cool to have both side by side and see the difference / similarity between the two decks. There’s only 5 of these available so that one is going to fast!

With so many playing card projects competing for funding, why should potential backers choose your deck?
It’s hard to say because it really comes down to personal preference, but I’ve been told it’s a really cool looking deck. So if we’re just going off of that, it’s the cool factor of an all black deck with super high contrasting colors. Digging a little deeper, this deck wasn’t thrown together overnight, I have a ton of thought and hours into it. Campaign wise, I really stripped it down to only cards and uncut sheets to make sure everyone gets their rewards as fast as possible. Cool, quality, and speed!

Finally, what are your favorite playing card decks? 
Man, I think I can fill an entire page with answers, but to throw out a few I would say the Monarchs by Theory11, MailChimp by Theory11, Sawdust by Emmanuel Jose, Robocycle by Bicycle, and The Federal 52 by Jackson Robinson (in no particular order).

Awesome! Thank you for your time Vadim! 


The Lumberjacks Second Edition is available on Kickstarter for $15. For a higher pledge, you will get the original edition of Lumberjacks as an add-on.

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