Dani DaOrtiz is a Spanish close-up magician who combines superb technique with crazy humour. Dani was born in Malaga in a town called Estepona. Like most magicians he began his career in magic at the age of 4 thanks to a box of tricks given to him by his father. At 12, he visited the magic circle in Seville and experienced the magic of Mario the Magician who would later become his mentor. Later still he would associate with first class artists such as Juan Escolano, Mago Migue, Juan Tamariz, and even today Lennart Green. All played their part in influencing his approach to magic.
Dani already has many publications to his credit and is the director of ElManuscrito, a magazine which focuses on articles of lasting depth about the foremost figures and milestones in magic. Now he has added a deck of playing cards to his repertoire. The DaOrtiz Playing Cards is a stunning deck deigned by Spanish artist, antnO and produced by Expert Playing Card Co.
Just before the launch of DaOrtiz Playing Cards, we managed to have a quick chat with antnO about his design background, collaborating with Dani, ideas behind the deck and how the deck came to be.
Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
Let me introduce myself. My name is Antonio Martínez and my stage name is antnO. That's how you will find me on social networks. I am from Malaga, a coastal city in the south of Spain. Ever since I was a child, I have always had a weakness for the art world and, since then, I've made several drawings using programs such as "Paint". I have always been fascinated with everything related to the world of audiovisual communication. That is why I plunged into the world of advertising. Years ago now, I created my personal brand antnO Creative.
Since then, I have worked as a freelancer for all kinds of brands. I have developed branding, created websites, designed logos, filmed corporate videos and much more. My last steps have been to specialize in Motion Graphics. It is really cool to animate your designs. Currently, I am making lots of motion graphic projects. You’ll see soon a little collaboration with D&D. You can see more projects in my profile on Vimeo.
How did you end up collaborating with Dani DaOrtiz?
I know Dani for years now. I am very lucky to live in the same city. I met Dani in the Magicians’ Association of Malaga, we happened to meet each other in several meetings. He must have seen something in me that spoke to him. Since then, and over the years our relationship has been getting better and now he has become a "BIG" friend. I really appreciate him. I am currently working with him for his producer "Group Kaps". I work for Dani as a designer, artistic consultant, I help with recordings of Enfilo and many other things.
What is your inspiration behind Dani DaOrtiz Playing Cards? How did you come up with the idea?
I have always had the idea in mind of designing a playing card deck. I really wanted to be able to make magic and to practice cardistry with a deck created by myself. So I got down to work. I knew I would have problems with production. Putting a deck on the market is not an easy task. I had the option to launch the project at Kickstarter, but the cost is very high from Spain and I had no influence or contacts on social networks. Nearly a year and half ago, I was having dinner with Dani and I told him that I was designing a deck and he asked me: Why not design a deck for me? And that is where it all began.
Walk us through the process you took to design. How did you approach this project and get to this finished product?
From the first moment, I knew the style I wanted to have for the deck. I love flat and linear design style. I don't like decks with overloaded designs. The first steps were slower. I wanted a fully customized deck and had to capture the essence of Dani DaOrtiz's magic. I needed to mix the power of his tricks with how easy it appears to the viewer. It all began to go faster after my trip to the United States along with Dani a year ago.
When we were in New York I met Bill Kalush. At that moment, I had designed the figures of the deck. I showed it to him and he loved it. From the first minute, The Expert Playing Card Co. bet on my design. From that moment, I continued forward with the deck design and the rest was shot.
What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
I really enjoyed while customizing the royalty of the deck. I wanted to wink at my great friend Dani and give personality to the figures. It was very funny to fatten up kings and queens. There was any other deck like this one before. Their cheeks are so chubby! I also like the jokers very much. As in the design of the backs, these show phrases that Dani used in his shows and in his daily life. You can also use them to make a prediction or card change. It refers to one of his famous tricks "Trick of hands without hands".
What's next? Are you planning to design more playing card decks in the future?
This project has opened many doors for me and the experience of having designed a deck allows me to see things from another point of view. I have several ideas in mind that I hope to carry out. Taking into account how quickly playing card decks are launched into the market, I cross my fingers hoping that nobody steals my ideas. DaOrtiz Playing Cards is the first deck and I hope to create or participate in the design of many others.
We noticed you have quite an impressive collection of playing cards on Instagram. What are some of your favourite playing card decks?
Yeah! I have many decks in my collection, and what I like most is to share it on my social networks. My passion for the magic and cardistry, together with my passion for the design, has led me to collect playing card decks. I do not know how many decks I have in my collection. I only buy those with good designs. I would have many more but it is not cheap to buy decks in Spain.
Which are my favorite decks? It is very difficult to pick one. There are true art treasures, but if I had to choose some, this would be my top 5:
1. Monarch (Theory 11)
2. Red Wheel(Dan & Dave)
3. Sleepers (Ellusionist)
4. Gatorbacks (David Blaine)
5. Misc. Goods Co. (Misc. Goods Co.)
It has been a pleasure to have this interview with you! I hope y’all love the deck and, specially, I hope to see your photos on social networks.
Thank you for your time antnO. If you want to support Dani and antnO, you can find DaOrtiz Playing Cards on Conjuring Arts!
Keep up to date on what's going on in antnO's creative world by following him on Instagram.