Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Ben Vierck of Four Point Playing Cards

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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Ben Vierck of Four Point Playing Cards

Four Point is a custom deck of playing cards designed by Ben Vierck. This expertly crafted deck is inspired by the intricate designs of money, ancient symbols, impossible geometry, and yoga mudras. This deck is not only beautifully illustrated but also very well thought out!

Each suit represents a unique theme and each court embodies a variation of that theme. For example, the Diamonds represent material power or money. The Ace is a symbolic representation, the Jack is the downfall of money (greed), the Queen is the misuse of money (decadence), and the King is the ideal (control). There are also some subtle relationships between the cards with hidden meanings incorporated by Ben for his backers to discover.

We caught up with Ben to talk about his design background, the inspiration behind Four Point Playing Cards, the evolution of design of the deck and Kickstarter.
Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
I’m an artist and designer in San Francisco, California. Some of my earliest memories are of drawing and it’s how I’ve spent the bulk of my free-time since childhood. I’m passionate about all things creative, and studied painting and industrial design in school. From building furniture to illustrating playing cards; from painting murals to inventing a better chainsaw (I have a few patents in the lawn and garden industry) my goal is to create interesting artifacts and objects that people genuinely enjoy.

Four Point Playing Cards is you first Kickstarter Project. Why Kickstarter? 
The “crowd-funding” movement, and especially Kickstarter, is brilliant. It allows creators (the artists and designers of the world) to directly fund their projects without having to find traditional “investment.” I love seeing the return to small scale manufacturing, where a creator’s vision can become a reality with less compromise. Kickstarter provides the financial and marketing platform so creators can focus on what they do best - create.

Can you describe the Four Point Playing Cards and why you’re passionate about it?
Four Point Playing Cards is unique deck of cards inspired by the designs of money, ancient cultures, and geometry. Each court card, ace, joker, card back and tuck box was originally illustrated by hand in charcoal and ink. A deck of 52 cards represents a unique medium to tell a story through imagery. I’ve always loved the intricate design of money, specifically the U.S. dollar bill, with all it’s hidden symbolism. When it came to designing my own cards, I wanted to include subtle relationships between the cards with plenty of hidden meanings for people to discover later.

My passion for this project springs primarily from my love of playing cards. My friends and family play cards all the time, it’s our tradition. I wanted to create something that we’d all enjoy playing with for years to come.

Second, I’ve been designing consumer products for the past decade and this project represents not only a departure in the type of work, but also freedom of design. I’m used to working with an entire team of people - marketers, engineers, executives who all have a say in the product. This deck is my first product that can be entirely how I envision it, with minimal compromise.

How much time did you spend working on the deck and can you briefly go through the design evolution of one of your unique card design?
I’ve spent the last eight months researching, sketching, drawing and refining this deck, although I’ve been quietly thinking about my own playing cards for substantially longer.

I began the project by writing a back-story, involving each House (suit) and all the characters within it. Each suit representing a unique theme and each court embodying a variation of that theme. For example, the Diamonds represent material power or money. The Ace is a symbolic representation, the Jack is the downfall of money (greed), the Queen is the misuse of money (decadence), and the King is the ideal (control). The same is true for all the other suits, although I don’t want to give all my secrets away.

I set-up a framework of symbols then let improvisation take over, allowing the individual pieces to be spontaneous. You might notice, that the cards are not perfect mirror images. There are many differences from top to bottom, some subtle and others more obvious.

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
My favorite idea was using yoga mudras on each court card. A mudra is a symbolic gesture of the hand and fingers, mainly used in Hinduism and Buddhism. I really enjoy Hindu mythology; the epic Mahabharata is one of my absolute favorite stories. As court cards traditionally include the hands, I felt like it was a great way to further the story and hint at the underlying meaning behind each card. For example, the Queen of Hearts uses a mudra called “Karana,” intended to expel demons.

What are your thoughts about the continuous strong growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter?
It’s amazing to see all these creators and artists turn their visions into reality. Even a few years ago, it was substantially more difficult to mass produce your own product. Also, playing cards are a great medium to tell a story; it’s a mini-package of 52 pieces of original art that fits in your pocket. So personally, I don’t think you can own too many card decks unlike other products, like microwaves.

Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks? 
I’m a huge fan of Artisans, by Simon Frouws; the Misc Goods Deck, by Tyler Deeb (funded on Kickstarter in 2012) and the simplicity of a standard deck of Bee, Club Specials. Although, I truly appreciate any deck that uses all original art for the court cards.

Thank you Ben for your time and sharing with us your Kickstarter project! All the best! 

Pledge starts from $13 and Four Point Playing Cards will be printed by the USPCC. Also, add-ons such as original art, limited-edition poster print, t-shirt, bandana and uncut sheet are available.

There are also multiple rewards that will be unlocked once the project hits their set stretch goals. Most notable is the Mint Edition deck, a fully custom deck with premium charcoal tuck box with embossed silver and money inspired green and grey ink on the cards. Don't miss out!

Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Ben Vierck of Four Point Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 8/06/2014 Rating: 5

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