The Moirai Playing Cards deck is headed by Stewart West and illustrator Bob Case. The guys have taken the life/death theme to their creation. Inspired by the Greek mythology, the Moirai were the three goddesses of fate who personified the inescapable destiny of man.
This intriguing deck features fully custom artwork. From the illustration of intertwined vines- alive and dead on the intricate card backs to the unique court cards which depict the control Moirai have over their lives and ultimate death, and the Ace of spades decorated with the majestic double-headed eagle.
We reached out to the team and had a chance to talk to Stewart and Bob (who has just been selected to be included in Lürzer's Archive “200 Best Illustrators 2016/2017”) about their design background & inspiration behind the deck and their plans for the future.
Can you tell us about yourselves and what are your design background?
Bob: I'm Bob Case - illustrator, animator, art director and CCO of LAVIDGE (an advertising Agency in Phoenix, AZ). I graduated with a BFA in studio art with an emphasis in Illustration from the University of Arizona - ironically around the same time that Stewart was attending although we didn't really know each other (he was a cool designer and I was a weird illustrator). I started out as a designer working for a small firm in Tucson, then moving up to Phoenix to work in-house for an airline. I moved to the advertising world, then into interactive in the mid 90's doing v.1 websites - hilarious stuff to look back at. Went full-time as an illustrator when my kids were little, then went back to advertising and have been with LAVIDGE for about 16 years. Still do freelance illustration, but I'm slow, so I try to be picky about what I take on.
Stewart: I'm Stewart West – graphic designer, art director, and currently a creative director for an in-house agency in Utah. I also graduated with a BFA from the University of Arizona, with an emphasis in graphic design. After graduation I worked as a production artist for a year or so and then moved to New Orleans when I got my first design job. After a few years I moved back to AZ and worked for a small design firm. Out of the blue Bob Case invites me to lunch to discuss going to work for an advertising agency - not his but a competitor. So that's how I got into advertising. After working for Cramer-Krasselt for 9 yrs. Another art director and I opened our own boutique branding firm. 10 years later one of our clients asked us to come to work for them, it was an exciting opportunity so we left the warmth of AZ for the chill of Utah.
What is the inspiration behind Moirai Playing Cards? How did you come up with the idea?
Bob: As I remember it, it started just as a conversation with Stewart and I wanting to collaborate on something. He suggested a card deck, then we started throwing around themes and landed on life/death pretty quickly. From there I started doing some sketches and shared those back with him. The "Moirai" theme came a little later as he was doing more research - the idea that fate plays a hand in life/death as well as card games was just a natural so we expanded the deck to include 3 jokers instead of two.
Stewart: I have always wanted to work on a project with Bob. We'd been friends a long time and I've always admired his talent. I had recently finished a Kickstarter playing card deck - Fanangled - and thought another deck with Bob would be incredible. We met for lunch and discussed several things we could do but came back to the playing card deck idea. As Bob says, we knew it was going to be based on life and death - I knew I wanted Bob to draw skeletons and the face cards in a deck lend themselves perfectly to having one side be life and the other death.
How much time did you spend working on the deck?
Bob: This is embarrassing. It took me two years to do all the illustrations. Like I said, I'm slow, but I also have a day job and illustration commissions so I ended up with nights and weekends to work. Stewart was awesome at subtly reminding me on occasion when I was a little too quiet and we kept up a decent pace. Without question the longest single project I've ever done and one that was a lesson in self-discipline and consistency.
Stewart: Ha. This is my longest project to date. While Bob did take a lot of time I wasn't Sir Speedy. We started this project just as I was closing my design studio and moving my family to Utah to start a new job. On top of that I knew Bob's illustrations were going to be incredible so I felt more pressure than normal when designing all the pips, the tuck case, choosing the right fonts, etc. I designed four of five versions of everything before choosing a final direction.
Talk to us about going from the first draft to the final version. How did you get to this finished product? How did you get feedback?
Bob: First draft to final version wasn't a huge shift - we both agreed quickly on the concept and the first sketch nailed the overall idea - where we had some great back and forth was in figuring out how the illustrations would sit on the card: Should they be framed, should they be cropped, etc. He would take the sketches, drop them in layout and we would just make decisions quickly. He was in the process of moving to Utah at the time we started so we did almost all of this through email - might seem like a cold way to work, but we were so decisive this way it made for a really efficient process.
Feedback loops were pretty funny - we'd both just show things to the people we work with and see what they had to say then tweak if we needed to. Probably the biggest challenge for me was solving the jokers - they weren't going to be done the same way as the cards (traditional card looking elements), they were going to be more flowing, so I had to figure out how to keep the life/death aspect of that while trying to have a more flowing style. Also had to figure out how best to break the illustration over the three cards so they could read as a single element, but function as individual cards as well.
Stewart: What Bob said. ;-)
What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
Bob: For me, it was the card back. I knew how cool and intricate card backs could be so I went right away to the intertwined vines. Having the quadrants break from living vines to dead was a breakthrough for me - loved having them mirrored, but different.
Stewart: My biggest break thru was the discovery of the Fates. I liked the life/death direction but I wanted a stronger concept for the deck. So I spent a lot of time doing research and thinking, and one day I found a website talking about the three sisters - The Moirai. Perfect.
What’s next? Can we expect to see more card designs in the future from you guys?
Bob: I'd do it again - just need a worthy theme (critical since the projects are so time-consuming) and maybe a moment to breathe and enjoy seeing this one come to fruition (hopefully).
Stewart: I certainly hope so. I loved working with Bob and I personally feel we've made an incredible deck. I hope our KS project funds. If it doesn't I feel my chances of talking Bob into another project are pretty slim.
Finally, what are your favorite playing cards?
Bob: When I was doing research on these, I came across so many decks that I thought were cool. I always return to the classic style of deck though - and it was why I made sure my faces and styles paid homage to them. But seriously, when you look at the old English/German/French decks, there was some magic in those cards. Can't imagine what it took to get them produced.
Stewart: So funny that Bob should pick the old European decks. Those are my favorite as well. I lived in Germany for a short spell and I loved the decks I played with over there. But I also have to say that the Federal 52 deck by Jackson Robinson is what inspired me to want to try to design a deck. Love his artwork!
Thank you for your time, guys. The artwork is incredible! At the time of writing, the project is only 55% funded with 21 days to go. If you want to support Moirai Playing Cards, you can find it on Kickstarter here!
Pledge starts from $12 and the deck will be printed by the USPCC on Bicycle playing card stock with an Air Cushion (linen finish). Dealer chip and t-shirts are available as an add-on.