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News: 7 Questions with Gustavo Borboa of The Kingdom of the Dead Playing Cards



The Kingdom of the Dead Playing Cards by Sextante Studio is inspired by the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead. The deck is a reinterpretation of one of the oldest traditions, the design respects the classic images of playing cards. The team at Sextante Studio, headed by Gustavo Borboa have reimagined the symbolism, colors and traditional characters into a modern aesthetic.

We were able to catch-up with Gustavo for a quick chat about the team at Sextante Studio and the design and idea behind The Kingdom of the Dead Playing Cards.

For those of us who don’t know, tell us a little about yourself and Sextante Studio?
I am a professional illustrator and since I was a child, I tried to sell my drawings and finally, people pay for my work, that’s amazing! I have worked on comic books, graphic novels and publicity illustration for marketing agencies and sales companies. I love to illustrating children's book and I have also an artistic career which I developed in addition to my design career. I founded Sextante Studio with some partners like Carlos Maccelli- Architect & Designer, we offer creative solutions to clients around the world.


What do you guys love most about being a designer? And what are some favorite projects you’ve worked on?
I think, the best part is making dreams a reality. I mean, as designers, we can take an idea and turn it into real life. My first comic book collection was one of my favorites, it was like a dream. Of course, our most recent project, the Mexican designed playing cards deck.

Can you describe the Kingdom of the Dead Playing Cards? and why you’re passionate about it?
El reino de los muertos (The Kingdom of the Dead) is a professional deck of cards inspired by the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead. It is a collector’s item as the graphics and figures have great artistic value. The members of the court —the King, Queen and Jack—, are works of art that were painted by hand in watercolor. The traditional figures in the cards have been reimagined in the rich traditions of Mexico.

The deck is produced in accordance with international standards, from texturized linen cardstock imported from France and complies with the quality requirements for use in casinos. The project is a reinterpretation of one of our oldest traditions, the design respects the classic images of playing cards. We have reimagined the symbolism, colors and traditional characters into modern aesthetics. Each image was created with profound respect and significant research. Bright and cheery colors are contrasted with dark, elegant borders.


The traditional figures are transformed into irreverent and playful characters with a touch of solemnity. The illustrations are dynamic and detailed. There are textures of perforated paper. Playing with these cards will be an experience that will take you on a journey through the layers of tradition encapsulated in each card.

Talk to us a bit about going from the first draft to the final version. How did you get to this finished product?
At first, I analyzed the geometry of the classic court figures and discovered a lot of interesting details. I took the main shapes and created a grid, in which I placed my new characters. After that, I defined the outlines and shapes with ink and digitalized the first drawing. The next step was to print those outlines over special cotton paper to create a guide path to paint over with watercolors. Finally, we took a high-resolution picture of the artwork and proceeded with the digital manipulation to get the final card images.

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
To share that ancient and magic feeling with the users. I think the users can feel the magic and the power of the traditions through the images. That’s the result of months of work, research, analysis and design.



What’s next? Can we expect more deck designs from Sextante Studio?
Sure, we are thinking about taking other historical concepts maybe from other parts of the world and maybe related to magic.

Finally, what are your favorite playing cards?
I love Contraband from Theory11

Thanks for your time, Gustavo! 


The Kingdom of the Dead Playing Cards deck is printed by Cartamundi with texturized linen cardstock imported from France. Available for sale now here from USD$10.5 for a single deck (excludes shipping).

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