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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Alvin Cheung on the SiShou Playing Cards

Born in Hong Kong, Alvin Cheung considers himself pretty ordinary, someone you might just pass by or bump into while wandering around China Town. In Alvin’s earlier days in High School he would spend much of his spare time creating Forum signatures and banners. With his creativity in high gear, Alvin started reading and studying every on-line tutorial he could find on Photo Shop and Illustrator and worked hard to keep improving his design skills.

Alvin decided to head to the United Kingdom to pursue his education and obtain his University degree. He studied Interior Design but his passion was always in graphic design.

“I have been a freelance designer since graduating, because I do not like the idea of working 9-5 for someone else at a fixed income. My dream is to build a company and start from there. I knew from heart it will be a hard journey, but the passion for design gets me motivated.”

Alvin has also been fascinated with card tricks for as long as he can remember and would go to magic shows in his area regularly. With these two passions in hand, and his creativity pushing him forward, Alvin moved forward to bring these to passions together.

“My dream is to be able to produce a deck of cards that will be used around the world to perform magic by all sorts of magicians.”

Alvin has taken that first step in his dream by producing a beautiful deck of playing cards inspired by the ancient four beasts of Chinese mythology. The deck is called SiShou and is currently live on Kickstarter. Alvin took a small break from the campaign to share a little about the project with us.

What inspired the SiShou deck?
Coming from a Chinese background, I looked into the stories of Chinese mythology. I read books, articles and watched videos about it. This inspired me to create the SiShou - Four Beasts deck. With coincidence there are also four suits in a deck. This is how I implemented each beast onto a different suit.

A little history about the myth, each beast is supposed to be a protector for part of the compass, where the Black tortoise is North, Azure dragon is East, Vermillion Bird is South, and White tiger is West. The tuck box was designed based on the placing of each beast. This is also evident in stone carvings dated 2000 years ago.

Asian themes lend themselves well to a vibrant colors, what inspired the color pallet of SiShou?
At first the deck was intended to be in a traditional red. But in order to appeal to a younger audience, I decided to have it in a teal color. The plan is to choose a pallet that appeals to card collectors and yet it does not become too different for regular poker players. 

Could you walk us through your “Creative” process, do you have a routine when designing a deck or individual card?
The creative process always starts at one single point, which is the inspiration. In this project, I took the design elements of actual stone carvings with the beasts on and converted it onto the deck. I then research on my theme and chose to use the traditional Chinese painting style that were printed on pottery for the beast designs.

For my routine when designing, I always close my eyes and imagine a complete design in my head first. This allows me to then draft out a concept that can be developed further. Once I have a draft, I would then refine the design and add details onto it to create a more intricate design. 

Have any changes been made from the original design concept?
There have been a lot of changes from the original design concept. The faces are different, the courts have been changed into beasts rather than having the human design, and the tuck box have been improved.

I also carefully chose the right color for the box to create a nice balance between modern and traditional colors.

When designing this deck, did you have a specific “group” in mind, or was it designed to cater to a wide variety of card aficionados?
At first I wanted to target everyone, but that did not seem to work in the first campaign. Right now I am trying to aim at 3 groups, card collectors, magicians, and poker players. I do not know how well it will be but the thought process of the design have been made to cater all three target audiences.

Can supporters of your project expect any surprises or “Stretch Goals” during this campaign?
I always love to surprise. It took me a year and a half to “surprise” everyone by restarting this project. If the campaign goes well, I would definitely add a few freebies into pledges. As for stretch goals, I would be aiming at including embossed tuck box, color interior, metallic ink, and maybe a different color version.

What are some of your favorite decks or designers?
I must say the one that inspired me to start this project was Tyler of Pedale Design. I really like his style of art with clean lines. I also love the inking technique of Jackson Robinson, a very talented guy.

We want to thank Alvin for his time and consideration. The SiShou deck has an amazing design and unique color pallet which lends to its concept very well. If you haven't already, head on over to the Kickstarter campaign and help Alvin's vision become a reality. You can also follow the progress and keep up on any future projects by following Alvin's Facebook page. We want to with Alvin luck on his project and are looking forward to more of his concepts and designs in the future. 

Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Alvin Cheung on the SiShou Playing Cards Reviewed by highlite23 on 10/15/2014 Rating: 5

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