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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Karin Yan of NOUVEAU Playing Cards



[Update] NOUVEAU Playing Cards are now LIVE on Kickstarter!

NOUVEAU playing cards are inspired by the historical and mythological heroes and heroines traditionally featured in the French playing cards in the 16th century. Designed by Karin Yan of Bonafide Playing Cards in Barcelona for United Cardists annual 2016 deck, the art style and design are a tribute to the philosophical and artistic trend Art nouveau, promoted and popularized in France.

Fully custom and beautifully crafted, the NOUVEAU courts feature historical and mythological characters such as biblical King David, Greek goddess Pallas Athena, Roman leader Julius Caesar, legendary Knight Sir Lancelot and many more! The suits themselves represent different Social Orders. For example, Spade represent nobility, Hearts the clergy, Diamonds the merchants and Clubs the commoners and the peasantry.

Just prior to the launch of the project, we had a quick chat with Karin about being a designer, the story of the NOUVEAU deck and how it came to be the UC 2016 deck and her thoughts on the support from the playing card community.

Can you tell us what do you love most about being a designer? And where do you get your drawing inspiration from?
I love the fact there are no bounds for imagination and it’s rewarding to bring your ideas to life. The creativity and versatility, which are part of anything related to designing, awakens a constant constructive criticism and self-improvement desire, which I greatly enjoy.

Well, inspiration is kind of different depending on how you approach it and it can come from literally anything; if you really want the perfect or right result, inspiration is not something you can force, it comes on its own once you have a general picture of what you want. As I see it and in this case, you don’t decide to create a custom deck and then break your head trying to come up with several ideas for designs. When you check out other playing cards, you realise that there’s still so much room for different and unique designs.

As for me, I love classic drawings and designs so decks such as Hundred Years' War, Venexiana and Federal 52 inspired me to create something classic. The idea of custom playing cards with a classic style led us to the original cards and after polishing it, we came up with NOUVEAU Playing Cards.



Tell us about the story of how this NOUVEAU came to be United Cardists 2016 deck? 
Ever since we started with the idea of our own custom playing cards, Mike has been very supportive of the story behind the design and the design itself. He liked our work and the concept so, after we failed to fund our own campaign, he suggested we work together on an improved NOUVEAU as the United Cardists 2016 deck.

How do you approach this project? Specifically, what led you to Art Nouveau styling for the deck and why? 
We had many ideas from the start and one of them was to bring back the historical and mythological heroes and heroines that inspired the French playing cards back in the 16Th century, which developed into the playing cards as we know them today. Taking that into account, we chose to stay in France and choose a French art style for our cards. It wasn’t easy as France was always known as a place of artistic reference, but after some thought we settled on Art Nouveau (promoted and popularised in Paris in the late 19th century). Another reason was that on our first funding attempt, the idea was to print a Bicycle branded deck and Art nouveau was contemporary to the birth of the brand.

I noticed the the colour palette for the deck have been updated. What are some of the design updates you’ve done to the deck to incorporate the UC theme? 
There are several and noticeable changes including the back, tuck and backgrounds on the court cards and Aces. Taking into account all the feedback and suggestions, I tried to change our deck’s look to something simpler as well as sophisticated within the limits of Art nouveau. Something that could be considered minor details such as the thickness of the lines, the finish or colouring helped me reach that goal and come up with a bolder design.



I know you put a lot of time and effort into your work, how much time has gone into the deck? 
A year has passed since we came up with the idea till I finished the UC2016 redesigned deck last month. I must say that even if there’s a lot of time and work behind this deck, I’m glad I managed to keep most of the design I first came up with, leaving the Aces and courts almost intact since day 1.

Are there any surprises planned for the release of the deck? 
We’re still deciding on our campaign’s details but we’re planning on two more decks that will be unlocked if we reach their stretch goals; One unlimited, closer to our original design (check out our previous campaign) and another extra limited Reserva Privada deck with an elegant and luxury finish both on the cards and tuck. We’re thinking about some items as well but nothing is decided yet. We’ll be updating with more news closer to the launching date.

Finally, what do you think of the support and feedback you have been getting from the playing card community thus far? 
We’re really grateful for all the feedback and support we’ve been getting along the way. NOUVEAU wouldn’t be the same without their help so it’s safe to say that if we manage to produce this deck, it will be thanks to their selfless support and constructive criticism.

We want to thank Karin and the team from United Cardists for their time and insight into NOUVEAU. Make sure to mark your calendars for the Kickstarter launch on September 19th, 12pm.


The NOUVEAU Playing Cards will be printed by EPCC on their Master Finish card stock. Pledge starts from $13 and there will be EARLY BIRD pledge tiers available. There are multiple add-ons available such as uncut sheet, art print and dealer coin. Also, there are multiple rewards that will be unlocked once the project hit their set stretched goals, most notable is the NOUVEAU Bourgogne deck at $15k.

[Update] NOUVEAU Playing Cards are now LIVE on Kickstarter!

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