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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Justin Meitz of the Kids Deck

The Kids Deck is a deck of playing cards specifically designed for kids and magicians. These aren't the intricately designed cards that everyone is familiar with, but cards that kids will love to use and magicians will perform with. This deck will be available on Kickstarter from August 15.

Created by Justin Meitz, a professional Magician, the Kids deck consists of 3 decks, a red & blue backed deck containing 52 beautifully hand drawn cards done in a kids style. The third deck includes alphabet cards (A-Z) and numbers (1-26), appropriately named the ABC123 deck.  Kids will be able to practice multiplication with the numbers and memory games with the letters.

Between his busy schedule, we were able to catch-up with Justin for a quick Q&A on his design background, the inspiration & design evolution behind the Kids deck and his thoughts on Kickstarter.

Can you tell us about yourself and what is your creative background?
Sure, I am a third generation professional magician, learning magic from my grandfather, and absolutely love my job. I travel around the world performing my unique brand of stand up magic specializing in VIP events, trade shows, and corporate entertainment. I also had another job which really inspired the Kids Deck to come to life. I graduated from the University of Nevada Reno with a Bachelors of Science in education and a minor in elementary education. I spent 7 years teaching 2nd & 5th grade which was so much fun! 4 years ago I retired to focus on my projects.

I created Magic House Publishing and published the award winning picture book The Amazing Alexander which Lance Burton says "This is an amazing story!" I have also published instructional DVD's for magicians and teach over 100 magic students around the country.

My number one rule in life is what I live by, Rule 1 - Have Fun!

This is your first Kickstarter Project. Why Kickstarter?
That is a great question. When I came out with my first book, it was done very traditionally. You write, find an illustrator, publish, and try to sell the product. I really wanted to try something different and all my research pointed to Kickstarter. I haven’t even launched the Kids Deck yet and I am so happy with the process that I am launching The Amazing Alexander 2 on Kickstarter later this year.

What is your inspiration behind the Kids deck? How did you come up with the idea?
During my time as a teacher I always had my students use playing cards for multiplication and memory games. But, normal playing cards are pretty boring, especially to kids. I searched and searched but could never find a deck of cards specifically designed for kids. On the flip side, as a magician I wanted a fun deck of cards to use with when performing kid shows. And yes I still perform kid shows. If you are a magician don’t let anyone scare you away from performing kid shows or make you think they are for an entry level magicians. A large portion of my business model is school shows and private kid parties! Ok, back to my inspiration for the kids deck :) I could not find a deck of cards that kids could easily relate to during a show. Normal Bicycle cards to kids are super plain and “adult like” and other magicians were using Disney, Warner Bros., and Harry Potter themed cards. Nothing that you could easily relate a story with during a party. I decided it was time to stop looking and put out a deck of cards for kids they would love using and cards magicians could work with.

Magicians, just imagine “Hey kids, I want to show you a card trick, but actually one I learned when I was your age. And, I want to show you a deck of cards that I made when I was your age!” Now you are “ effectively selling” the idea of the trick to the kids in a way they can understand and as a bonus you can give the deck to the birthday child when you are done with the routine. Win win!

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 am really lucky, I have the best team that I could possibly ask for. My artist Breanne Craig is an amazing artist, actually specializing in pet portraits. My designer, Jason Mead, can see things that normal people can’t. He will take an idea I have in my head and create an absolute master piece...just look at the card box! I have an editor, a photographer, and a videographer. This entire team has worked together to create the Kids Deck and without one of them it wouldn’t have happened.

I spent many coffee shop meetings sketching out card ideas and trying to think like a kid. I also have a lot of younger kids as magic students so I asked opinions and took those to the drawing board. When designing a “Kids deck” you would think you could do whatever, but actually everything was planned out pretty systematically. We wanted the decks to look like a kid drew them but at the same time make sure kids could easily identify what suit and number the card was. All in all it was a super fun project and the entire team said this deck made us feel like a kid again!

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
There were two moments that were unexpected when it came to the original design. First, from the get go I knew I wanted a red and blue backed kids deck. About half way thru the design process I called my artist and asked her to draw a couple letters. The ABC123 deck was born which meant that kids could learn from fun cards and not even realize it...we call that MISDIRECTION! And magicians could now have vibrant alphabet cards for awesome magic tricks instead of boring black block letters.

Second, my artist started drawing different back designs and one of them really caught my eye. Not only was it great looking, I instantly realized I could use it as a one way “stripper deck”. Normally you would never want this with a deck of cards but remember, this is a deck for kids as well as kids becoming magicians. Part of the Kickstart project includes a DVD for kids and magicians called Card Tricks For Kids - No Rabbits Required. Magicians use Stripper Decks all the time but this made it possible for kids to use the deck as a Stripper Deck, without the Stripper portion. The idea is you show the cards to a layman, have them select out a card, and then put it back the same way you would a stripper deck...reversing the orientation of the card in the pack. 98% of people will never realize what is happening. And other than die hard card fanatics, having cards this way really doesn't matter.

What are your thoughts about the continuous strong growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter?
You know what I love about playing cards, especially for kids, it isn’t TV and video games. Playing cards bring people together. Whether you are playing poker in a casino, or playing Rook at a family reunion, or having someone “pick a card”, you are interacting with a group of “humans.” I think people have a hard time with that today...everything is face down engulfed in our phones. I have a lot of respect for all these artists and card collectors creating new decks. I think it is only going to grow and really feel fortunate to have an opportunity to share my deck with all of you.

Finally, what are your favorite playing card decks?
Since I perform full time, my go to deck is a Bicycle red back. Everyone knows Bicycle and it plays well to a full house of people. I have found that anytime I work with an “artsy deck”, people automatically wonder if its a “special deck” or gimmicked in some way. With that being said, I have a good card collection at home and full framed card sheets hanging in my office. I also make a lot of gaffed cards so playing cards in general are part of my life. But, the Black Tiger and Ghost decks were some of my first “different decks” that I purchased back in the day. Arcane and Artifice are very artsy and the Infinity deck just feels good in my hand. I recently backed the Different Deck and gave a lot of those decks to my students which they really like. I look forward to seeing new and upcoming projects!

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

Pledge starts from $9 and the Kids Deck will be printed by the USPCC. Also, the project includes an instructional DVD, "Card Tricks for Kids...No Rabbits Required" which has the title "For Kids" but there are some sweet tricks packed into that DVD including a sweet David Regal effect called Letter Perfect... and a pretty awesome T-Shirt for kids.

Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Justin Meitz of the Kids Deck Reviewed by Ivan on 8/14/2014 Rating: 5

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