Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Lorenzo Gaggiotti of Requiem Playing Cards

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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Lorenzo Gaggiotti of Requiem Playing Cards

After months of hard work and anticipation, Requiem Playing Cards is now LIVE on Kickstarter. Created by Sweden based Italian artist/designer Lorenzo Gaggiotti, this unique set of playing cards is unlike any other... it is gory and dark yet beautiful in a weird way - this deck will not be to everyone's liking.

One of our most anticipated 2014 project, Requiem is custom designed and features darkness and pain as a theme. The illustrations for the Courts, Jokers and Aces are very dark. The suits are made out of broken Hearts, Clubs with thorns, cracked Diamonds and dry leaves as Spades. Pips are unique and the gold metalic ink on this blood red deck gives it a touch of elegance.

Between his busy schedule, we were able to catch-up with Lorenzo for a quick Q&A on his design background, the story behind Requiem, the design evolution and on the topic of crowd-funding.

We are a big fan of your work. Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
I am a graphic designer, product designer and illustrator. I started drawing since the age of 3, when I learned to keep a pencil in my hand. My mother is a painter so I grew up between colors, shapes and canvases. Drawing is a passion and I never get tired of it, but I mostly love deep concepts and the idea behind a design. "Honor the concept" is one my motto, followed by "quality over quantity". So every time I design something it starts from a concept that takes weeks or months to be defined and clear. Simplicity is easy to read, but very hard to make.

I am Italian and I moved to Stockholm 4 years ago to start a new life in the cold north, which I enjoy it. I’ve always been interested in card decks, and I've been always "annoyed" by the standard design of the courts. Then in 2011 I found out the custom-decks-world and I got extremely excited. I wanted to make my own deck. To be honest this is the second one; the first one is now in the pipeline of HOPC and - spoiler alert - is very different from Requiem.

Requiem is your first Kickstarter Project. What inspired you to launched your own kickstarter project?
Actually I wanted to find a producer to sell the project and avoid the production and the distribution processes. Nobody was interested in investing on Requiem. I tried the big company such as Theory11, Ellusionist and many more, but I didn't even get an answer. I got a few replies from others, but they were not interested to buy and produce this special deck. I know, it´s quite different and dark. Kickstarter is a very good platform to show the design and raise the funds, create the orders and start a successful project. There is a lot of work behind a KS campaign, I´ll do my best to listen and reply to everybody, and follow step by step the campaign.

What is your inspiration behind Requiem Playing Cards? How did you come up with the idea? Oh...this is the key-question. Well, in a few words my soul has been maltreated as boyfriend, man and human being. You will read in the box and in the 55th card the sentence "chronicles of a lost love". So it´s a production of my suffering soul after my ex decided to end a relationship in a drastic and hectic way.

A classic broken-hearted story (see the pips). It´s a thing happened in June 2013. All the courts, the jokers and the aces describe a feeling (with a Latin name) and a specific date (day and month) with roman numerals. It´s a deck full of symbols and meanings (often untold or hidden). I just can say that the Queen of Spades is her. Art and creativity is a way for me to release and transform dark energy into beauty, shapes, colors and in this case a card deck. Somebody writes songs, I made Requiem.

Ok, Requiem is not as sexy as rock band member, but the creative process is often quite the same.

How much time was spend working on the deck?
The project started first with the joker Malum Ignavum the 5th of August 2013. Then I saw the potential for a deck and I decided to make all the 56 cards, using as concept the darkness of those days. The first “real” card I started drawing was the Ace of Clubs. It was the starting point for a structure, a template. The valve was finally open. It took 4 months drawing, changing, tweaking, redesigning and finalizing the cards, without counting the KS campaign and all the necessary graphics.

Wow! Can you briefly go through the design evolution for the Ace of Clubs?
About the Ace of Clubs, in the beginning I was not really sure of the final result, I tried some inked illustration and see how it could work. Then I noticed that was difficult to see the symbol and I did a club-shaped-bush with a flower on the top. In Italian we call clubs "fiori" and it means flowers.

The courts, as the standard bicycle decks, are inside a golden rectangle with simple horizontal symmetry. The red background was a choice inspired by my cheap ink-jet printer. One day I tried to print a black background, but the cartridge was almost empty and I got a maroon dark-blood-red color instead. It was a beautiful mistake that made me decide to use a deep red as background.

The courts are totally redesigned focusing on those bad feeling. The illustrations show darkness, blood and tears, sadness and pain. Sometimes they are quite creepy, or slightly gross. I wanted to avoid the copy-paste abuse and make all the pips different from each other. Of course I use copy-paste as working tool, but not to create an entire deck. Each heart has different cracks all over the deck, same for the rest of the pips through the 4 suites. I wanted the aces to be important, so they have an illustration.

What are your thoughts about the exponential increase of playing card projects on kickstarter?
I think it´s a win-win-win situation for designers, backers and Kickstarter itself. Often I see the tendency of ripping-off and copy-pasting an existing standard deck, just changing the color and sell it as the groundbreaking deck of the month. Seriously?

Someone sells a 5 minutes job as a big design piece. And the difference from a previous production is just the color of the backs. The faces are standard as the previous production. I just don't like it: poor, superficial, and boring. People use the word "minimalistic" instead of "copy-pasting". Minimalism is not that. Simplicity is hard to achieve. A review of such deck on Youtube should be 10 second long, saying: "take the old production and change the color from red to blue, or black, or purple". So you have 5 reviews in 10 seconds. Kickstarter offers a chance to make a real custom deck, where everything is redesigned.

Skilled designers know that it is a hard job. Months of work. Ok, they might be too artistic or too decorated. But why not? It's ART.

Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks?
Sentinels by Theory11 (Designed by Hatch SF) and Federal 52 (Designed by Jackson Robinson) are my favourite. I love the design of both decks even if they are very different. Vector graphics for Sentinels on white background: neat. Ink detailed drawings and vector graphics on Federal 52: artistic, warm and full of details. Details make the difference in my opinion. After the quality of the illustrations of course. Both decks are consistent, beautifully designed and executed.

Thank you for your time Lorenzo. All the best!

Available in Beige and Light Blue tuck box, Requiem will be printed by the USPCC. Pledge starts from $13 and there are multiple add-ons available such as T-Shirts and Prints... printed in Sweden!

There are also multiple rewards that will be unlocked once the project hits their set stretch goals. Most notable is the Augmented Reality app (free download for iOS and Android). This App will show hidden details and symbolic meanings of the illustrated cards.!

Requiem will be due out to backers on April 2014.
Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Lorenzo Gaggiotti of Requiem Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 1/11/2014 Rating: 5


  1. Great article, Ivan! (as always) Lorenzo is already $4000 funded after less than 3 hours "live". It should be an easy run to the finish line with many stretch goals accomplished along the way!

  2. Thanks Indigo and Mike!

    It's been a long journey for Lorenzo. I hope aspiring KS designers will be inspired by story behind Requiem.


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