Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Chris Edgerly of Dia de los Muertos Playing Cards

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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Chris Edgerly of Dia de los Muertos Playing Cards

Dia de Los Muertos Bicycle Playing Cards is a Deck inspired by the art and traditions of the Day of the Dead -  a traditional Meso-American holiday dedicated to the ancestors; it honors both death and the cycle of life. Created by the team at Edgy Brothers, this beautifully illustrated deck pays homage to the spiritual and cultural event as it is celebrated today: full of color, detail and character.

We caught up with Chirs Edgerly, one of the founders of Edgy Brothers to talk about his company, the inspiration behind the Dia De Los Muertos Playing Cards, the evolution of design of the deck and Kickstarter.

Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
Our company, Edgy Brothers, started in 2011 mainly to do t-shirt designs. It was myself (Chris Edgerly) and my wife (Geraldine Planchart) and my brother David Edgerly - our resident artist. But David was so busy doing freelance work that we could only devote so much time to getting the designs going. Dave's got the design background - he's worked in graphic design, animation, illustration, you name it. Geraldine's and my backgrounds are more in the performing arts, though we've found that gives us a valuable p.o.v. for design. You're constantly thinking of not just the visual idea, but how it connects with an audience, how it tells its story.

This is Edgy Brothers’ first Kickstarter Project. Why Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is the perfect storefront. They've done all the heavy lifting for you. The backers are already there, looking all over the site for something to inspire them. Some are niche backers, who pledge in just one area, and others are generous across a wide landscape of concepts. Naturally you've got to do whatever you can to pull other card enthusiasts into the site to see your work, but in this case, virtually every hardcore collector knows about Kickstarter.

What is your inspiration behind the Dia De Los Muertos Playing Cards? How did you come up with the idea?
We've always been inspired by Dia de los Muertos. One of our first t-shirt designs was of a Flamenco-dancing skeleton. We've still got a few shirts of it (we sell them on our site.) And my wife Geraldine is Venezuelan, and everyone in the Latin culture knows Dia de los Muertos and the strong connection to those who have passed on. It's such a wonderful, mysterious, vibrant aesthetic, and, like Latin culture, is also quite bold. Hard not to be inspired by that. So, the idea then was how best to represent that on a deck of cards, keeping the modern, popular style of Dia de los Muertos in tune with the older, more historic side of it.

How much time did you spend working on the deck?
We spent a couple of months, at least. David had just finished the art work for a successfully funded campaign he did with a couple of friends, the Edgar Allen Poe deck, and was ready to jump right in with this one. We had to discuss the concept for a bit before we were happy with what card would be represented by what character, and from there he started sending us designs for notes (he lives in Austin, we're in Los Angeles.) After that, it was back and forth for weeks, tweaking, sometimes starting from scratch, etc. Meanwhile we also worked on the project page and everything else that comes with running a campaign, as we found out.

Can you briefly go through the design evolution of one of your unique card design?
Let's take the Jack of Spades and the Jack of Hearts. You'd think they're both Jacks, no big deal, just a minor difference here and there, right? But they were elusive. The color scheme was crucial - we knew we wanted Mariachi for the Jacks, but once we juxtaposed the red of the Heart with the colors inside the border and the border itself, it didn't always work. And then what works with the Heart doesn't work with the black of the Spade. So, after this long back and forth we finally realized that the solution was two different borders: one more rustic and bronze/copper shaded for the Heart and one more silver/grey for the Spade. Then we had to deal with the negative space of the card design, which was harder to fill with a skeleton, being as they're obviously slimmer than a person, unless you want to do a bulky, broad skeleton and that didn't work.

So, we found ways to put filigree in just the right spots to complete the design. In the interim, we toyed with adding and subtracting different colors and flowers, juggling all these classic Dia de los Muertos elements that we wanted to include but some of them just didn't work with the rest of the design. It's knowing what to leave out sometimes. And while all this is going on, David is methodically cranking out this unbelievable art work and you hardly want to reject any of it because you know on your best day you couldn't do that yourself. But the perk of being family is you get to be honest. And he prefers being challenged instead of having someone who just says "yes" to everything.

57% of the top projects in 2012 missed their delivery dates? What are your thoughts?
We studied a lot of campaigns - and not just up until they got funded. We looked at their post-funding updates, at comments from backers who were sometimes understandably impatient with a very loooong fulfillment process. And we realized that both sides have to understand the other for this all to work. Backers who get behind a lot of campaigns are the coolest. They know fulfillment takes months, and they accept it. In fact, they're suspicious of creators who promise short fulfillment windows.

Newer backers, however, are amazed at the window of time between when they pledge their money and when they get their deck. But Bicycle - who almost everyone uses - has their process, and it takes weeks. And that's assuming you've got the art work finished as soon as the campaign ends, which doesn't always happen. Then you've got to use a good fund manager (we're using Backerkit for this campaign) to keep everything in order and communicate with your fulfillment center so things get shipped on time and to the right place.

They key is being realistic. If you've got several different add ons and complicated pledge levels, you've got a lot of sorting out to do before everyone gets what they pledged. And communicating with backers is crucial. You have to use regular updates to explain where you are in the process so they don't think you forgot about them. To help with that, we pledge campaigns regularly so we can not just support the creators but to get a sense of what it's like to be a backer and experience that wait.

Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks? 
There are too many to mention. Some we only found about after they had ended because we're so new to Kickstarter, and you just kick yourself for not being one of the early backers. Uusi's Pagan deck was very cool and original. House of Playing Cards' Imperial deck had a nice design choice as well but it was also over when we found it. But we managed to back Elite's One Million deck, the Steampunk Goggles deck, and the Diploma Bicycle deck, which unfortunately didn't get funded. We also loved Jackson Robinson's Federal Decks, which were long since closed after we discovered them. We did back his Independence deck.

We're just like any backer - we're looking for something to surprise and amaze us. Lot of that to be found on Kickstarter. We plan on mentioning other ongoing campaigns in one of our updates a little later in our campaign. Gotta send out your support.

That's very nice Chris! Congrats on reaching the funding goal! :)

Pledge starts from $12 and the Dia de Los Muertos Bicycle Playing Cards will be the USPCC. There are also multiple rewards that are waiting to be unlocked once the project hits its stretch goals. The most notable is the black deck at $25k and painted deck at $50k! Add-ons such as dice, dealer coin and shot glass are available.

Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Chris Edgerly of Dia de los Muertos Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 3/15/2014 Rating: 5

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