Dead on Paper and Chris Ovdiyenko have truly come into their own over the last year or so. Not only is each new project bringing completely fresh and new concepts to the table, but the projects have also been “Grander” each time out. Chris has a very unique style and has shown his willingness to go in new directions with each new idea that he takes on.
Chris’ first project in the playing card world was Calaveras. Inspired by el Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Chris took a simple approach that truly captured the holiday along with showcasing his talent and attention to detail. There have been Day of the Dead decks over the years, each with its own “vision”, but I have to say that Dead on Paper’s version is one of my favorites. The rustic look and feel of the tuck case and cards is well balanced and while at first glance the imagery seems simple, once you take a good look you can appreciate the detail and subtleties that went into the artwork.
The tuck is a matte off white stock that lends itself well to the concept, the simple yet intricate “Tri-Skull” image on the front is eerie yet beautiful. The contrast between the skulls and roses are a perfect complement to the Day of the Dead concept. The details continue in the framing and copy found on the edges of the deck and also continues into the tuck where you’ll find a beautiful pattern. Keeping with the small details, you'll find a quote from Emiliana Zapata that reads "prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas" - “It's better to die standing than live on your knees" on the tuck flap. The tuck finishes up with a nice custom seal sporting an oversized letter “C”.
The back design continues the “Skull and Roses” imagery with six skulls swimming in a bed of flowers. The back design is framed with an intricate border design that not only gives the back design a finishes look, but also visually shrinks the borders. The spot cards feature nicely designed, slightly oversized, pips. Again, subtle customization makes the pips stand out and the intricate design of the numbers just keep tying the concept together. The deck also included a simple, yet well fitting, Ace of Spades “Planted” in a bed of flowers and two skulls which are also featured on the other three Aces in the deck. The two custom Jokers lean on a bit of the macabre of the Day of the Dead, but again, fit perfectly with the rest of the deck. Also included in the deck you’ll find a really nice ad card as well as a double backer.
The court cards feature 12 unique designs. They are presented in a one way layout, but I don’t mind it with this deck. Each suite has its own theme; the Diamonds have a religious overtone, while the Hearts depict more of a “Bandito” feel to them. Each court has an intricate frame that wraps part way around each edge leaving some space for the indices.
Calaveras was available in an unbranded version as well as a Bicycle branded version. The projects original deck was the Bicycle branded which was limited to 5000 hand numbered decks. The decks came without cello. The unbranded version was added with an unlimited run, but did deliver the deck wrapped in cello. Outside of the cello, branding and hand numbering, the decks are identical.
Calaveras was a beautiful tribute to the Day of the Dead and showcased the amazing artistic talents of Chris Ovdiyenko. With each new release you can see Dead on Papers fan base growing and with good reason. If you’re a fan of really talented artists, you need to give this deck a look, not to mention if you like the Day of the Dead concept, in which case this is a no brainer. If your new to Dead on Papers and Chris Ovdiyenko work, take a look at his other projects, Oracle and Arcana…….you won’t be disappointed.
You can follow Chris and Dead on Paper on his website as well as Facebook so you can keep up to date with any new projects or offerings.