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Kickstarter: Apothecary by Seasons Playing Cards - Launch Day!



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

The teasers have come to an end and the long wait is over. We've reached launch day for the beautiful new project from Seasons Playing Cards, Apothecary. Launching today Monday October 17th on Kickstater, 5:00pm CST...you'll want to be there.

Designed by Alexander Chin, Apothecary promises to be a project like no other. Alex was kind enough to take some time away from the project to give us and our readers a little insight into this "Journey" that is Apothecary.

What was the inspiration behind Apothecary?
I love themes that involve a temporary notion to them like a disappearing season or an event.  All my projects usually start out with a question I try to solve. The big drive in the direction of this project came was figuring out how to visualize intangible concepts. Imagine being able to box up an "insight" or "curiosity".  How cool would that be? So the question that really started this all off was "In what context does any of this make sense?".

From there the concept drove itself into a slightly more magical direction. I stumbled upon the theme of curiosity cabinets and ended up side-stepping that theme into the medicinal Apothecary, something that currently straddles between old and retroactively modern.  When I looked and saw how the idea could flourish in this new frame that's when I knew this was the right theme to pursue.

You are known for very intricate and unique design elements, how did that process begin for Apothecary?
Most of the process is caught up in "map-making" for the specific concept. Once I can see the end goal the production process is pretty consistent with my other releases. I always sketch things out in pencil and go through several rounds of scanning, printing, and revising on vellum for the right kind of composition that gives me that "feels right" vibe. Then it's making sure the contrast balance is there and finally getting to the details.

I'll almost always ink the details first and then re-do them in Illustrator. It takes twice as much work but for some reason if I try doing the intricate line work in the computer I always freeze up and I'll lose a day because I'm too worried I'll mess up. I think that's similar to "blank page effect" for a writer? After the vector work, I'll bring it from AI to PS to finish off the shading and coloring. To me the computer is just the tool to polish. Everything is just easier when I try to keep things by hand. 



Are there any unique features or points of interest in the Apothecary decks?
The Apothecary sways towards a healing aspect and I wanted to play off that by literally creating a faux Apothecary for Seasons. I created a custom logo monogram for the deck and framed each deck to be an actual "prescription". Each deck has an "Ingredient Log" and "Directions of Use" on them which I had loads of fun writing. These are small print items you won't notice at first but collectors will get a kick out of when they take the time to examine the deck. There is also a KS exclusive "Black Label" edition of each deck that involves metallic engraved sleeves that were hand produced. At the end of the campaign I'll hand wrap each of these special decks and number, date, and sign each of the decks to make them truly special. These labels really push the decks to the finish line and really embody the Apothecary experience.  They're probably my favorite piece so far.

What is truly unique about this campaign though is the interactive journey of Apothecary Tales that will coincide with the campaign. To keep backers engaged throughout the campaign there will be chapter releases to coincide with updates. It's a custom website that includes a reading and audio portion. It was super fun to design and I think others will also appreciate the added level of experience.


How much time and research went into the development of this project?
Every Seasons release so far has been born out of a bigger picture, this one included. To plan it literally starts out with an Excel sheet. Weird right? But since I plan all my releases with multiple variables I end up creating and revising a lot of matrixes. For this one I ended up creating a matrix that covered fields of season, title, suit, body part that is healed, purpose, medium/form, stage, and possible ingredient list for each. What this basically means is that each deck will have a list of traits that represent this deck specifically that will differentiate it from the other decks of the same line in the collection. I'll compare the decks and see what works with what and where problems might arise. Conflicts in the table of what works for a two-deck launch may change if you expand the table into a 4-deck launch and so on.  It was because of the size of this project and the search for the theme that this launch got postponed for so long. 

Normally I never have this many items but because I'm trying to represent an invisible concept it was something I felt needed more definition. For example "Purified Primavera Ponderings" is represented by a "club" that blooms in "spring, that helps your "curiosity" that is soaked in a "liquid" in the stage of a "seed". Again, you probably won't see all these things on there, but for when I'm designing it definitely helps the art and design direction when I am able to solidify traits to an intangible concept.

You've had a very successful track record with Seasons Playing Cards, does it get easier or does it become more challenging each time? 
It's a bit of both. When you're green your worry points differ from when you've got a few under your belt. When I first started shipping and video worried me to no end, now that worry has shifted to momentum-maintenance and social pressure. When you launch a successful project all of a sudden you have a bar that you set to achieve and the pressure becomes much greater than when you first start out when it's just a dream that you can get funded. It's a completely different perspective. Even art production isn't immune to the change. Although the art gets easier to produce, because you're expected to push the envelope and your style, you're almost always testing out new ideas which means new challenges and potential failures.

Overall I'd say that even though you might get a bit more comfortable with the Kickstarter process, as a whole, the worry and challenges still remain - and I think that's a good thing.

What are your thoughts on the climate of the Playing Card Industry, specifically when it comes to Custom Cards?
Predicting the future is always tough. If I had to guess, I think I'd stick with my safe answer I've said since the beginning which is that hyper-customization is definitely going to popularize with even lower runs and higher personalization with the rate of technology. But a less confident answer is probably the change in assumptions for what we see as important. Is card handling of utmost priority still or do other elements supersede that priority? Do boxes still need to fit on the shelf? If not, are custom collector boxes going to rise in popularity (as seen with carat cases)? I think the big answer to how people will react to these questions, at least on the business side, is how they want to position their company and what demographic is going to reward them for that positive behavior in change. 














Seasons Playing Cards is more than just about Playing Cards, what other projects do you have going on that pertain to the Playing Card community? 
Seasons has always been about an interactive card experience. One of my passion projects is Portfolio52.com which is now the world's largest interactive playing card database.  I love cards and it's always been my goal to help change the way that people look at playing cards. One of the best ways to do that is to lower the barriers of entry into card discovery so that they're not limited to the marketing on their social media feeds or to the provisions of a few industry giants. The second thing is to make collecting easier to help people stay interested in the hobby without harder things like inventory management. Portfolio52 is a site that addresses all of these problems for you.  Version 2.0 released just last week.

The site allows you to know at a glance exactly how many decks you have and track which decks you're looking for. You can make personal notes and reviews. By creating an open source community database P52 anyone is able to add, edit, and improve the database so that over time you'll be able to search for decks on your terms and find decks that are perfect for your collection. In response to your previous question, if there was any one thing I would have to guess that would change the climate of the industry, I could see Portfolio52 be that disruptor by opening the doors to a wider demographic of people that would begin to dictate change in the market with their wider unseen interests.

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

We would like to thank Alex for taking the time to chat with us about his new project and Seasons Playing Cards. Be sure to set yourself a reminder for this Kickstarter launch, and join the journey. 


You can follow all things Seasons Playing Card related on their Facebook page. 

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