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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Ben Kolozsi of Choice Playing Cards

Beautifully illustrated by Ben Kolozsi, Choice playing cards are a contemporary deck inspired by the history and hand drawn playing cards of the past. This deck has been designed with simplicity in mind. The Ace of Spades and courts are custom and meticulously hand illustrated while the minimalistic back design enhances displays and card flourishes, which have already proven to be quite popular amongst cardists.

We reached out to Ben and we had a chat about his design background, the inspiration behind Choice playing cards, the design evolution of the deck and Kickstarter.

Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
I always like art but really starting loving it when I was around 13-14 years old. In high school I had an amazing teacher that pushed me and would enter me in competitions which I ended up winning several times. That really gave me the push needed to purse art as a carrier. I started attending Savannah College of Art in Design in 2004 and soon found Illustration was perfect for me. My minor was to be Interactive Design and Game Development and it ended up turning into a second major which kept me at SCAD until 2011. I graduated both fields with high marks as well as a few more competition wins under my belt.

What is your inspiration behind the Choice Playing Cards? How did you come up with the idea?
While working in restaurants in Savannah, I found a local design and film firm that agreed to give me an internship and hopefully a job. After about two weeks they asked me for a year unpaid internship. I laughed and walked out. Kinda in a rough spot and slightly bored I rediscovers magic from when I was a kid, and it had changed. I found many custom decks and soon my brain began to dream and dream big. At first I though I would be the next big Cardist but soon realized while I love it, I am no pro. So I stuck to what I am good at and that is how Choice was born.

Unfortunately, your first project was only 48% funded. Did you get any help or feedback from your supporters after your first project and how did you incorporate it into the current project?
Yes I did! Many friends and I talked about what I did right, as well as wrong. It really gave me a lot of insight into what the other side of the counter felt like. For my first campaign I launched without all the artwork complete as well as shown. I also had all the bells and whistles attached and no stretch goals. Another thing, I was trying to do everything and was dragging with the weight. This time I contact a team of people as well as research fulfillment centers. I came up with the best balanced campaign I could create. It now has a lower goal because of some solid stretch goals. The artwork is 100% complete and Expert card company has already received and reviewed the files. We are good to go!

Can you briefly go through the design evolution of one of your unique card design?
Yeah of course I would love to explain how I create a court card. I start in a pencil and sketch book. I do anywhere from 3 to 20 sketches of how I want the royal to general look. Usually takes me around a week per card. After I have a design I like, I begin with the dead center of the card and careful draw towards the crown.

As I go I am also measure the proportions in order to keep all the royals consecutive. I have to be very aware of how the design is going to intersect, that's the hardest part and most time consuming. Laying out a single card in the final design like this takes anywhere from several days to a week. I will then resize and blow the image up and transfer it to a large piece of watercolor paper. Using copics pens, sharpies and the classic pen and nib I slowly ink all of my precious line work. I only work about 20 min at a time in order to keep my hand accurate and steady. As long as I am pacing myself this takes a couple days.

From here I scan the final ink into the computer and begin to duplicate and mirror each card using photoshop. You must be careful during this party to remember how you pre planned each card. Once that is complete I have to take it into illustrator and using multiple tools and techniques turn the raster image into a vector for print.

Boom, done!

From the project page, what are a few of your favorite reward levels and why? 
Easily the Ryan Edwards handcrafted card clip, Jamie Grant's AIP bottles and of course the DVD. Having a team of amazing people behind me is part of why, but their work is also incredible. Really excited to get these in hand myself!

What are your thoughts about the continuous strong growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter?
It's incredible! As an artist it is awesome to see the support and passion many people have. I am proud myself to join in on both sides, including supporting others work.

Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks? 
I have way to many favorites and all for different reasons, be it slights, cardistry or the artwork. On my coffee table now is the red Choice deck, blue Ohio studs, yellow Noc v3, Hollingworth, D&D vintage plaid, launch Virts, Edo Huang's Nautical deck and a Portals wine deck. I'm honestly to scared to use the Hollingworth, but holy cow it's epic!

Thank you for your time and all the best, Ben. If you like what you’ve read here and want to support the Choice playing cards, you can find it on Kickstarter here

Choice Playing Cards will be printed EPCC with the same stock and finish as the popular NOC v3's. Pledge starts from $9 and there are multiple add-ons available such as the cardistry tutorial DVD featuring eight flourishes by the Choice Team, Jamie D. Grant's "Anything is Possible" bottle and Ryan Edward's hand-crafted card clips.
Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Ben Kolozsi of Choice Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 10/02/2014 Rating: 5

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