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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with David Goldklang of Duel Playing Cards



Produced by Vanda Playing Cards, DUEL is a fun & playful deck of playing cards inspired by Harlequin patterns. Designed by London-based graphic designer Joelle Wall, each individual cards is a work of art by itself and features 56 gorgeously custom illustrated face cards, Ace, Jokers and Tuck.

With its soft subtle pastel shaded colours, each card exudes fun and charm, while maintaining the traditional function of a playing card deck. This deck is produced by Vanda Playing Cards (VPC).

We managed to catch-up with Joelle and David Goldklang, founder of Vanda Playing Cards to chat about VPC, the inspiration behind DUEL Playing Cards, the design evolution of the deck, the future of Vanda Artist Series and lessons from Kickstarter.

For those of us who don’t know, tell us a little about yourself and Vanda Playing Cards?
David: Three years ago I discovered Kickstarter and noticed that designers were able to raise money to produce printed versions of their work - posters, books, and even playing cards. I was completely drawn in to the idea and decided to craft my own version of a deck of cards. I launched a Kickstarter for the original Vanda decks, it became funded, and I was hooked. Since then I've launched several other card deck campaigns and been able to print tangible manifestations of the countless hours I've devoted to my craft.


Can you describe the DUEL Playing Cards and why you’re passionate about it?
David: I love the clean simplicity and thoughtfulness that went into the design of this deck. There are so many cards being created these days that cram in more and more details and they all start to look similar to me. One of my primary goals with Vanda products is to create items that are original and distinctive – they don't look like any other decks out there and they don't even look similar to each other. Every design so far has been a different illustrative style and I've pushed myself to learn unfamiliar techniques with every project. Duel fits in with this trend perfectly and that's why I've chosen to launch it as the first deck in the Vanda Artists Series.

DUEL is the first deck of the Vanda Artist Series. How did you end up collaborating with Joelle Wall on DUEL and what can we expect in the future from this series?
David: I discovered Joelle and the Duel deck when browsing through artist portfolios online one day. I'd been looking for artists to collaborate with to expand the Vanda brand. Joelle had already designed the Duel deck and I thought the design looked amazing. I contacted her to ask if she had produced the deck before and when she said no, I offered to produce it as a Vanda deck.

Walk us through the process you took to design DUEL. How did you approach this project and get to this finished product?
Joelle: I play a lot of card games, mostly with a standard red pack of bicycle cards. They have always been my favourite deck and I carry them with me wherever I go. Designing my own deck of cards has always been a dream of mine and when I started developing concepts for the deck, I referred back to the bicycle cards for the symmetry in the face cards and how the suits are laid out on each card. Although I loved the intricacy of a bicycle deck of cards, for my design I wanted to keep things as simple as possible.


I started by designing the 4 suits. I selected the basic red and blue, with two lighter shades to accompany the main colours. Once I started designing the face cards I realised I needed a few more colours to contrast the primary colours, so I selected dark brown and black. The idea for the pattern on the back of the cards came from a harlequin–inspired printed dress that I picked up in a Market in Amsterdam. I really liked all the geometric combinations used throughout the design. This became a big inspiration for the face cards and the box design.

I called the deck duel because in its truest meaning, a duel refers to the arranged combat between two individuals with matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules. My playing cards intend to encapsulate the essence of the word in a playful manner.

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
Joelle: The most difficult part of designing the deck was the face cards. Getting the face card designs to be symmetrical but still have enough balance was proving to be difficult with the 4 colours that I selected. I think my biggest breakthrough was when I started adding the striped patterns throughout the other solid shapes. This was the contrast that was needed to get the face cards working, and it also transitioned nicely when I added the crowns.

This will be your fourth playing card project on Kickstarter. What are a few key elements and principles you incorporated into your project that you think future Kickstarter creators could benefit from knowing?
David: I'm trying to find ways to keep my backers engaged and excited about the project. I think this is one of the most important aspects to running a campaign. I've seen many projects that just sit with very little activity and they probably don't reach their full potential as a result. I've managed to build one of the largest Instagram followings in the card community with over 20,000 followers, so I'm trying to engage users through that medium as much as possible. I'm even running an Instagram contest and giving away 36 free decks to 3 lucky backers.

The single most important thing I've learned from running previous projects is that communication is vital. I've made mistakes in the past on this front but as a result I found that it's essential that you update regularly and respond to backers as much as possible. This creates a sense of trust as well as community.


Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks?
David: Aside from all of the Vanda decks (of course), I'm a big fan of Randy Butterfield's work. I have a very small card collection and it mostly consists of his creations. I feel he puts a ridiculous amount of thought and attention into every tiny detail and the result is a cohesive package. The LUXX deck he designed is dripping with details, but every element is there for a reason and seems to make sense.

Thank you both for your time and all the best! If you like what you’ve read here and want to support DUEL Playing Cards, you can find it on Kickstarter here


Pledge starts from $13 and will be printed by the USPCC on their famous Bicycle stock with Magic Finish. There are also multiple rewards that are waiting to be unlocked once the project hits its stretch goals, most notable is the blue edition at $20,000.


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