Designers: Artist Taylor Eshelman Discusses Upcoming Bicycle Tinker Deck

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Designers: Artist Taylor Eshelman Discusses Upcoming Bicycle Tinker Deck

Coming soon to Kickstarter, the Tinker Deck is the creation of artist Taylor Eshelman aka Tesh of Utah. Tesh's Tinker Deck is a Steampunk deck of playing cards that is gear heavy with metal texture and great depth and contrast. Tesh has been blogging about the deck process on his blog Tish Tosh Tesh for most of the year where it has caught the attention of playing card enthusiasts. Although the artwork is still waiting approval from USPCC and could be subject to change based on their requirements, Tesh hopes to launch the project in mid to late September of this year.

This is Tesh's third project on Kickstarter. The first two projects were dice projects. Unsuccessfully funding the first dice project, Tesh came back swinging with a second dice project that funded 2,546% over the original asking goal that just finished up it's funding period on August 25. In fact, the Steampunk deck project is actually an extension of the dice project, which goes by the same name as the deck - Tinker Dice. With a successful project already funded, Tesh is busy working on the dice project as he waits for final word from USPCC.

We were able to catch up with Tesh to discuss his upcoming deck project and the inspiration behind it all. Read further to get the inside scoop....

Tuck Case: On your previous Kickstarter project page you mention you are a technical artist and animator in the video game industry, can you talk more on your design career?
Tesh: My BFA is in computer animation, and I've always been interested in games and game design. I work as a technical artist, dabbling in design a bit, but on my own, I design games and do game-related art. As a youth, I wanted to design video games, but purely as a practical matter, these days the design I do on my own in my spare time is for card and board games. I have several full game ideas, but it seemed prudent to get my foot in the door by offering artistic variations of existing games, hence the dice designs and playing card designs, then work in my own designs once I have some more people to bounce ideas off of. Even before that, I was offering custom art, some game-related, via Zazzle, just as a way to make a little money on the side once the creative urge hit.

Tuck Case: Can you give us some background on the Tinker Deck project?
Tesh: I started working on the Tinker Deck back in January of 2013 and first posted about it on my blog.
I'd designed some dice previously, the Gearpunk Dice on Shapeways, and it seemed a natural extension of that sort of "gaming art" ethos to dive into making art for a deck of standard playing cards. I've long been fascinated with machinery and history, so when I ran into the Steampunk world, it seemed like a good outlet for some of the art projects I do in my spare time.

The Tinker Deck grew out of those trends, aided and abetted by a trip to a local mining and semi-ghost town that had some excellent old machinery to examine. It's been through three major revisions and plenty of little fixes since then, and there's always more that I could do, but at some point it just needs to be released into the wild.

Tuck Case: What stock and finish will the Tinker deck feature?
Tesh: The Tinker Deck will be a standard Bicycle deck, with normal Bicycle stock and the "air cushion" finish we see on most decks Bicycle offers. At least, that's the goal of the Kickstarter campaign. If it fails to reach the financing goals, we'll just offer the deck via a Print on Demand service, which would mean different stock and finish. We considered foreign printers who claim to be comparable to Bicycle stock and finish for a better price to make the Kickstarter goal more viable and offer better prices to customers, but ultimately decided to go with Bicycle.

Tuck Case: Is this your first venture into card design?
Taylor Eshelman: This is my first playing card design project, though I've done card designs for a variety of projects that haven't yet seen the light of day. These were other card games, from a TCG to a simpler, single deck game. Playing cards, or at least, playing card collectors, have a different set of design and product elements they like to see, as opposed to a casual family gamer or a TCG player, which is why I made the major revisions between deck iterations and why we're going to offer it via Bicycle instead of other printers.

An older version of the deck is available now at, but it has seen some great upgrades since then, and if we can make the Kickstarter a success, the Bicycle cards themselves will also be an upgrade, and all for a cheaper price per deck in the end.

It's been a bit of a learning curve, but I've read compelling arguments that collectors are at least one major axis for success via Kickstarter, which is important for leveraging the economy of scale to get good prices. Collectors seem to strongly prefer Bicycle and things like symmetrical card backs and indices near the edges, so I've been happy to take the time to learn what people are looking for and tweak where it makes sense to do so.

Tuck Case: You previously ran a successful Kickstarter for the metal dice, will the dice be offered as an add-on or stretch goal with the Tinker Deck?
Tesh: Yes, the Tinker Metal Dice will be featured in the Tinker Deck campaign. We're going to offer a limited number of a variety of types as add-ons. We're not sure about stretch goals at the moment. We have several ideas, primary among them an alternate deck with "rusted" faces and backs, but it's undecided at this point whether that would be the first (big) stretch goal, or if we'll go with smaller ones and do the Rusty Tinker Deck as another campaign afterwards. It will depend heavily on backer and community feedback.
If we do make Tinker Metal Dice into stretch goals for the Tinker Deck, it will be to get together another "print run" of the dice, but again, which dice out of the mix we wind up doing will depend heavily on the community as well.

Incidentally, we'll also be offering backers the option of "taking over history" and supplanting the portraits of historical figures with their own faces and even costumes as premium pledge tiers. This will naturally introduce another round of Bicycle approval, but we're hoping that it's worth the fun factor.

The Rust Back Design:

Designers: Artist Taylor Eshelman Discusses Upcoming Bicycle Tinker Deck Reviewed by Ivan on 8/29/2013 Rating: 5


  1. We've officially launched! Many thanks for the writeup, Scott!

  2. We reached our base funding goal a little while ago. We're still angling for the Rusty Tinker Deck alternate art option as a stretch goal, but the Tinker Deck will be a reality. Thanks for your support!


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