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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Will Pitney and Jason Mannon of the Frontier Deck

The Frontier Deck is a Bicycle branded playing card deck inspired by wildlife illustrations of the late 19th century. This beautifully illustrated deck is designed by the Frontier Guys, Will Pitney and Jason Mannon, who both loved the outdoors when they were growing up- camping, hunting, fishing, digging holes and just romping around. So when someone suggested they make an outdoor-themed deck of cards, they just couldn't resist.

The deck will be printed by the USPCC and will feature the era-appropriate Bicycle logo from the original 1895 Expert Back deck. An era where camera exposures were still very slow, hand-drawn illustrations were the only way to capture the true vitality of the wild.

Last week, we managed to have a quick chat with Will and Jason about their design backgrounds, the inspiration and the design evolution of the Frontier deck and their thoughts on Kickstarter.

Hey guys, thanks for your time. Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
Will: Born and raised Texan, I could always be found romping around in the woods, diggin' holes and what-not. For as long as I can remember, I've been drawing and making art. This led me to getting a degree in Illustration at John Brown University and have been lucky enough to earn a living by making art.

Jason: I've been an entrepreneur with smaller scale projects since I can remember - its always a bug of mine. Now that I have my CPA license I feel I could branch out and do something a little bigger. This is my largest personal project to date.

The Frontier deck is your first Kickstarter Project. Why Kickstarter? 
Jason: To me, Kickstarter was a no brainier – yes, there are other sites but Kickstarter had the best reputation within the card community. As well as with the general public - trying to convince others in the hunting, wildlife, or outdoor community has been difficult enough. It would've been impossible with lesser known crowd funding sites.

Will: I'd been a fan of kickstarter for a while. So, when the time came for a crowdfunding platform, I felt more comfortable sticking to what I knew. Also, I saw how nice and supportive the card community was.

What is your inspiration behind the Frontier deck? How did you come up with the idea?
Will: One day, Jason showed me some really great decks on Kickstarter and asked if I had ever seen any that were hunting themed. After a bit of research, nether of us were able to find a playing card deck like it. So, after much debate, I decided to make my own. In the fist few weeks, I decided on the vintage theme and to change the theme from 'hunting' to 'outdoors'. Doing so, we expanded the scope of the deck to encompass a larger variety of amazing wildlife. Also, in the beginning, there was only supposed to be one deck. However, after finishing The Frontier Deck, I couldn't stand leaving out so many great animals. Thus, the Predator Edition was born.

Jason: As an outdoor lover I looked for a deck that had high design - needless to say the options were limited. That's when I approached will with the idea, kind of halfheartedly. Needless to say he took it farther than my expectations. I love this deck - I cant wait to get it in the hands of our backers.

I agree, it is a beautiful deck. How much time did you spend working on the deck? 
Will: One full year! The Frontier Deck stands as the longest personal project I have ever undertaken.

Jason: My time will come...handling fulfillment my time will come.

Can you briefly go through the design evolution of one of your unique card design?
Will: The Ace of Spade was one of the last cards made. Mainly to save the best for last and have all the experience from drawing the other cards under my belt. So, when the time came, it was simply a matter of combining all the other elements from the deck into one cohesive card. With an emphasis on continuity, the iconic Bison was drawn, set on dots, framed in plants and set in the shape of the spade.

What are your thoughts about the continuous strong growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter?
Jason: I love it - I think its really great. Its doing nothing but pushing the level of design further.

Will: While there are some valid complaints about flooding of sub-quality decks, I think its great. Playing cards are a canvas to the designers for them to tell us of a time, place or thing they are really passionate about. All the while, be a tool for fun and games. The more growth we see, the more people can share their stories.

Finally, what are your favorite playing card decks?
Jason: I think the deck that started it all off for us was the Federal 52 deck - I was so impressed by it and was my first experience into the card community. Currently I love the Muertos and the Memento decks. Those are just the ones off the top of my head, like in the previous question there are so many good ones.

Will: Monarchs by Theory11 – Very classy. Much quality. Wow.
Whispering Imps by Chris Chelko – A perfect marriage of nouveau design and history.
Bruce Lee Playing Cards by Dan & Dave – I've always been a fan of this martial arts legend and its simple design is very fitting.
Spider-Man Playing Cards by Marvel – This was the first deck of cards I ever bought with my own money and is still fun to shuffle every now and again.

Awesome! Thanks again for your time guys and all the best! 

The Frontier deck is available in two editions: the Frontier deck (Blue) and the Predetor Edition (Red). Pledge starts from $10 and there are multiple add-ons available such as Uncut Sheet and Poster Prints. There are also multiple rewards that will be unlocked once the project hits its set stretch goals.

Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Will Pitney and Jason Mannon of the Frontier Deck Reviewed by Ivan on 6/15/2014 Rating: 5

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