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Designers: Traction Gives an Inside Look into the Development of Bicycle Espionage Playing Cards

Bicycle® Espionage is an all-new deck that launched on December 1 for members of Bicycle®’s Club 808. It’s another deck by the team at Traction, so invited them to share more behind their process and about the deck. Enjoy!

The minute Traction knew this deck was a go, we had ideas for conveying secrecy in every element of the design along with a sense of the unexpected. Illustrators Emily Webb and Ronny Young returned to craft the aesthetic and character design for Bicycle® Espionage after the success of the Bicycle® Sideshow Freaks Deck.

“What’s great is that it’s not just a James Bond-style deck,” said Ronny. “It pulls from the entire spy genre over the last 50 years. It would've been easy to go after every 007 type, the women, the villains—licensing aside. But we wanted every kind of agent to have a shot.”

The element of secrecy is first evident in the tuck, which is all one color except for a slight variant in the embossed details. The minimal, clean design on the front makes it look even more classified. “I think the best part of the tuck is how you really have to pick it up and move it around to notice all the little details,” said Emily. And of course, the tuck opens to the side instead of to the top, as though it’s actually a cigarette case with built-in knockout gas, or a business card holder that doubles as a parachute.



The cards themselves are completely custom. Custom court cards, custom pips, custom back design. The backs are black with an 80% gray overlay, making them subtle and stylish nods to secrecy.

The court cards are an amalgamation of every genre of undercover agent; you’ll see everyone from a tuxedoed gentleman, to a ninja woman, to a mad scientist in the employ of an agent. “The art style on the court cards is definitely heavy on the shadows,” said Emily. “Same with the pips. It shows that each character is literally operating in the shadows.”


Bicycle® Espionage was released in the Club 808 VIP Shop on December 1. Uncut sheets are also currently available in the same shop.

Here are process photos of the court cards:

Jack of Clubs Sketch

Jack of Clubs SketchThis card didn't change much from sketch to finish, but we love the detail of the scar over the eye and the buttons on his coat.

King of Diamonds Sketch

Kind of Diamonds SketchThe final version of this card contains even more shadows for a mysterious look and feel.

King of Spades

King of Spades SketchWe ended up leaving out the two knives on the final card to keep the design clean and focused.

Queen of Clubs Sketch
Queen of Clubs Sketch - This ninja woman's hair changed considerably from where we started here. The kanji on her headband means "strength."

Post Author: Katherine Monasterio

About Traction: Traction is a design firm located in Cincinnati, OH. They specialize in high end branding and creative projects for a multitude of clients such as The United States Playing Card Company, NBA, Mindbody, Prilosec OTC and many more including local and national brands.
Designers: Traction Gives an Inside Look into the Development of Bicycle Espionage Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 12/03/2013 Rating: 5

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